ISA Agents Tortured S.A. during Interrogation

S.A., 31

On 13 July 2005, at around 2:00 PM, while I was driving my taxi inside Israel , near Baqa al-Gharbyia, ISA men stopped the taxi and took me out. They tied my hands behind my back with plastic handcuffs, covered my eyes with a piece of cloth and put me in their car. There were dogs in the car too. While I was inside, one of the ISA agents hit me on the neck.

The car stopped some place I didn't know and they got me out and took me into a room where there were uniformed police officers. They took the blindfold off, kept my hands tied at the back and sat me on an ordinary plastic chair. One of the men in the room introduced himself as an ISA man. They asked me what my name was and I gave them a false name. I had a fake Israeli ID and I used the details that appeared in it. The ISA man told me it wasn't true and that they already knew who I really was. He said that they day before I was arrested I helped I man from the Territories get from Tulkarem to Netanya and he blew himself up with an explosive device there. I tried to explain to him that I did drive someone I didn't know to Netanya, and he did have a bag, but I didn't know there was an explosive device in it.

Other than my work as a taxi drive I used to steal cars and move them to the Territories. I was sent to jail a few times in the past for criminal offenses related to auto theft and breaking into vehicles. When I took the man, who, I later found out, blew himself up in Netanya, people from the Territories told me that he was a car thief like me and that he was going into Israel to steal new cars. I thought if I helped him steal, I could make a lot of money because it was new cars. I told the ISA man I didn't know the bag had an explosive device in it and that I thought it had tools for breaking in. I was held there for two hours. They didn't use any violence against me and they told me I would get a life sentence.

Then they put me in a car and took me to the Petach Tikva detention facility. I don't know what time it was, because my eyes were covered and I couldn't see if it was light or dark, but I think it was already dark. When I got there, I was asked if I had medical problems. I said I didn't. I knew I was in Petach Tikva by what the ISA man who was with me in the car had said.

After they asked me about my medical condition, they took me back into the interrogation room. There were three interrogators who kept going in and out. They sat me on a metal chair which was attached to the floor. It had a seat and a back rest from plastic. They cuffed my hands behind the back rest and attached the cuffs to a ring which was attached to the back of the chair. The legs of the chair had cuffs attached to them, which were used to bind my legs.

I think the interrogation started at 7:00 or 8:00 PM. I was tied to chair the whole time until the next day ( 14 July 2005 ) at 7:00 AM , when they let me go to the bathroom for the first time since they arrested me.

After the bathroom I was taken to tiny cell. I stayed there for about half an hour, during which they gave me breakfast. Then they took me to the interrogation room and tied me to the chair in the same way. I was interrogated until about 1:00 PM , and then they released one of my hands, and left the other tied to the chair from behind. They brought me lunch and half an hour or an hour later, they tied my hand to the back again. Then they continued to interrogate me until about 9:00 PM. Then they put me back in the cell. Actually, from the moment the interrogation started in Petach Tikva [at approximately 8:00 PM on 13 July 2005 ] until the next day at 9:30 PM , I wasn't allowed to sleep at all. The interrogators switched and interrogated me more or less continuously.

During this interrogation, they didn't use direct physical violence against me, but they swore at me all the time and threatened me with a life sentence.

On 14 July 2005 , at around 9:30 PM , I was allowed to sleep until the next day. Then it was Saturday and they didn't interrogate me until the evening. In the evening they took me and sat me on the chair again. They tied my hands behind the back rest and my legs to the cuffs at the base of the chair. I stayed in the interrogation room until the next day [ Sunday, 16 July 2005 ]. I didn't sleep at all that night. In the morning, at around 7:00 or 8:00 AM , I was taken to the cell, to go to the bathroom and I was brought breakfast. The break in the cell lasted about half an hour and then they took me back for interrogation.

I had severe back pains because I had been sitting tied to the chair for so long. There was only one break in the interrogation, for an hour, which was when I got my lunch, while still tied to the chair with only one hand released to eat. I stayed in the interrogation room until the evening. I could see through the interrogation room window that it had gotten dark out. In the evening, they took me to the cell and let me sleep until the morning.

I was held in Petach Tikva for 15 days. On the days that followed 16 July 2005 , I was interrogated every day, including Friday and Saturday, except for two days during which I wasn't interrogated at all. This was after they used a particularly harsh method against me. The interrogation would start every day at 8:00 or 9:00 AM and last until 8:00 or 9:00 PM , with a lunch break in the middle.

When I had been there for six or seven days, the interrogators told me that they were going to use a method used in military interrogation (tahqiq 'askari) against me. They sat me on a bench with no back, with my feet on the floor. They cuffed my legs and tied my hands, with cuffs, behind my back. Then they told me to bend backwards with my behind on the bench. Only my behind and my lower back were supported by the bench and my body was arched. At some point they brought more cuffs and attached one side to the handcuff chain and the other to the legcuffs chain. This stretched my body even more and it was very difficult.

At that point, the interrogators lifted the bench from both sides and let go suddenly. I heard something rip in the area between my groin and lower abdomen. I fainted. I don't know how long I was remained unconscious. When I woke up I felt my face was wet from the water they had splashed on me.

I felt excruciating pain in the groin and the lower abdomen, and I noticed that part of my body had swollen. They took me to the detention facility's clinic. Someone examined me there. I don't know what his training was, but he didn't recommend an examination by an expert or hospitalization and didn't give me any medicine. He just ordered to take me back to the cell. I stayed there for two days without being interrogated. Then they took me back for interrogation and interrogated me every day from morning to night.

The pain in the groin and lower abdomen continued for weeks and I didn't get any medical treatment. No expert saw me and no x-rays were done.

In the two days when I was in the cell without being interrogated, they put another detainee in the cell. I don't know if he was a regular detainee or an informer ('asfoor). He told me to confess to whatever the interrogators were accusing me of and even to make up a factual description in order to convince them, even though it wasn't what really happened. When I went back into the interrogation room I really did tell a whole imaginary story about how I knew that the suicide bomber was intending to carry out an attack.

When I was taken back into the interrogation room and told this story, the interrogators gave me a polygraph test. I don't know what the results of the test were, but I think they didn't believe what I had told them. I told the story because I hoped it would end the interrogation and that maybe I'd also get medical treatment.

The cell I was held in was maybe about 2 meters by 2 meters and there was no opening to let in fresh air or sunlight. The walls were so coarsely textured that it was impossible to lean on them. On one side there was a hole in the floor for defecating. The light in the ceiling was on 24 hours a day and it made it hard to fall asleep. In the cell one loses the sense of time. I could tell day and night only by the meals they brought me and by the window in the interrogation room.

The food they gave me in the cell was of very poor quality and not enough to be filling. The breakfast included a hard boiled egg which was often old and smelly and some bread slices. The lunch included mushy, cold pasta and bread slices. The dinner was generally like the breakfast and sometimes included a cucumber or tomato.

After 15 days in Petach Tikva, I was told that the interrogation was over and that I was going to a regular prison. They took me to Meggido and put me in a spacious room with more detainees. The food there was better than the food in the cell, and there was more of it. The meals included fresh meat, chicken and fresh fruit and vegetables. Some of the detainees, who introduced themselves as the prisoners' leaders, approached me. They said they could contact the Palestinian organizations outside the prison and that I should tell them what I said and didn't say in the interrogation.

They held me at Meggido for nine days. Because of all the questions the detainees asked me about the interrogation, I suspected they were collaborators ('asafeer') and that their job was to encourage me to talk. I was arrested in the past and I know that detainees usually don't ask one another such questions. While I was there, the detainees were polite and respectful toward me and didn't use violence against me.

 

After nine days, they took me back to Petach Tikva and held me there for a month. On the day I went back, they brought my brother and put him in my cell. He stayed for four days and then I didn't see him anymore. I think he was released. For the first 15 days, I was interrogated every day, except Friday and Saturday, between 8:00 AM and 8:00 PM , approximately, with a lunch break. After 15 days, they stopped interrogating me. At some point, when they no longer interrogated me, I met with a Red Cross representative. About 25 or 26 days after I was arrested, I was taken to a hearing on the extension of my detention. It was there that I first met my lawyer. That day, the lawyer only translated the proceedings for me and I didn't have a chance to talk to him or tell him what happened to me in the interrogation.

A month after I came back from Meggido to Petach Tikva, I was transferred to Gilboa prison where I was examined by a doctor for the fist time. The doctor said I apparently had an inguinal hernia and that I needed an operation. At Gilboa prison, I met my lawyer and for the first time, I was able to tell him about my interrogation and consult with him.

was indicted for assisting a suicide bomber who caused the deaths of five people. The hearing was set for 4 June 2006 at the military court in Salem.

S.A. , 31, is a resident of Tulkarem District. His testimony was given to Att. Hisham Abou Shehadeh on 31 May 2006 at the Sharon Police Detention Facility in Petach Tiqvah.