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From the field

The Interrogation of Palestinians During the Intifada: Follow-up to March 1991 B'Tselem Report

March 1992, Summary


The report includes the following sections:

  1. Summary of original report;
  2. Public and media reactions in Israel and abroad;
  3. Official investigations by the Knesset and Knesset committees, theIDF, the Ministry of Justice and the GSS, the internal GSS controller, the state comptroller, and the Jerusalem City Council;
  4. Other relevant developments: petition to High Court by Public Committee Against Torture, statement by ICRC, government ratification of Convention Against Torture, police interrogations in Jerusalem, petition to High Court by ACRI, and other legal developments;
  5. Follow-up and further allegations: follow-up of original B'Tselem interviewees, published reports from other human rights organizations, media reports, current patterns and allegations, and death during interrogation: Mustafa 'Akawi; and
  6. Conclusion and recommendations.

The appendices include:

  1. Arie Shavit, "Twelve Days on Gaza Beach";
  2. Extracts from Testimonies of Ayman 'Awad to IDF inquiry;
  3. Charge sheet no. 1 against police investigators in Jerusalem.

We regret to say that in March 1992 there had been little real change in the pattern of interrogation of Palestinian suspects. The methods we described in our original report continued to be used in March 1992 in a widespread and routine way. This was confirmed by every source we could find: journalists' investigations; hundreds of cases reported to human rights organizations and lawyers; the 24 members of our original group whom we re-interviewed and our 25 new interviews. These methods certainly constituted ill- treatment and corresponded to most accepted definitions of torture. The military court system continued to have little or no control over abuses in the interrogation process.

Only one serious attempt was made by an official Israeli government authority to investigate our allegations. This was the IDF inquiry headed by Maj. Gen. Vardi. The results of this inquiry largely substantiated our claims--at least in regard to IDF investigations. Vardi's recommendation however--to shift interrogations from the IDF to the GSS--hardly dealt with the overall problem, nor did it clarify the division of responsibility between the IDF and the GSS.

Even a "proper investigation" was insufficient as long as there was no real public commitment by the Israeli government to actually try to eradicate the torture and ill-treatment of Palestinian suspects. What had become apparent over 1992, was that no official source even bothered anymore to deny the existence of the illegal methods of interrogation that B'Tselem (and other organizations) had consistently reported.