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HC Hearing on Force Interrogations

A nine-judge panel of the High Court of Justice convened today to continue discussion of the use of physical force in interrogations. Under consideration were six petitions filed by human rights organizations which challenge the interrogation methods currently used by the General Security Service in interrogations of Palestinians. This hearing is the third concerning these petitions: the Court first met in January 1997, again in May 1998 and again today.

The State's representative, Attorney Shai Nitsan, continued his presentation from May. He argued that the "moderate physical pressure" used by the GSS does not constitute torture, but that in the case of a "ticking bomb" even torture would be justified by the "defense of necessity."

This is the defense in the Israeli penal code which allows an individual to commit an illegal act to avert a greater danger. In this case, he claimed, torture would be the lesser of two evils, the alternative being a terrorist attack./>

When Nitsan concluded, Attorney Avigdor Feldman, epresenting the Public Committee Against Torture, made a few introductory remarks. Court President, Aaron Barak, then adjourned the discussion. No date was set for a future hearing.