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From the field

ISA Agents Tortured M.H. during Ingterrogation

M.H., 29

On 15 November 2005 , at around 1:30 AM , soldiers surrounded my parents' house, threw shock grenades and ordered everyone out. We went out and the soldiers covered my eyes with a piece of cloth and tied my hands behind my back with plastic handcuffs. The soldiers put me in an army jeep and I waited there. Later, my parents told me that while I was waiting, the soldiers searched the house and turned over clothes and other objects.

The soldiers in the jeep made me lie on my stomach and kicked me. The jeep drove to an army camp. I think it was in Elon Moreh. They made me sit on the floor blindfolded and with my hands cuffed behind my back. One of the soldiers stood guard next to me. At some point, I asked him to take the handcuffs off because they were very tight and they were hurting me, but he refused and started to slap me and swear at me. I was held there for about half an hour and then I was taken to Huwwara. I was held for half an hour at most, at Huwwara too, and then they put me in another vehicle which took me to Petach Tikva.

I got to the detention facility in Petach Tikva at around 10:00 or 11:00 AM. Someone, I don't know what his professional training was, asked me if I had any medical problems. I said I didn't. Right after that, they took me to the interrogation room. I was made to sit on a metal chair with a plastic seat and back rest. The chair was fixed to the floor. They tied my hands behind the back rest and attached the handcuffs to a ring in the back of the chair. They tied my legs with legcuffs. I can't remember if they attached them to the chair's legs.

The interrogators didn't use physical violence, but threatened they would transfer me to an army investigation (tahqiq 'askari) and use interrogation methods on me that could break my back or hurt my groin, and that they would arrest my parents. Throughout the interrogation they yelled and swore at me.

At noon they took me to a very small cell, near the interrogation room, where they gave me lunch. The meal lasted 15 or 20 minutes and then they took me back to the interrogation room and tied me to the chair I sat on before. I stayed in the interrogation room until 7:00 or 8:00 PM and then they took me to a different tiny cell, where I was supposed to sleep. This cell was about 2 meters by 2 meters and there was no opening for fresh air or sunlight, only air-conditioning vents. The walls were coarsely textured, so it was impossible to lean on them. On one side of the cell, there was a hole for defecation, a sink and a water tap. There was a thin mattress and blankets on the floor. They reeked.

The food I was given was of very poor quality and not enough to be filling. The breakfast included a hard boiled egg which looked as if it had been cooked a few days before - sometimes it stank - a teaspoon of labaneh and a few slices of bread. I didn't get any salt. The lunch included wieners and a few slices of bread. The dinner included labaneh, a few slices of bread and cold tea.

The cell's ceiling had a lamp which was on 24 hours a day, probably to disturb my sleep. At night, the wardens used to bang on the door with some kind of object and wake me up.

I was held in Petach Tikva for 14 straight days. I was interrogated from about 9:00AM to 6:00 PM every day, except Friday and Saturday. The interrogation was done in the same way I described before. Since the cell was stifling, I was exhausted and I felt like I was going to be ill. Two or three days after I got there, I was allowed to meet with a lawyer.

After 14 days, they told me my interrogation was over and I was being transferred to a regular prison. I was taken to Meggido prison, where I was put in a room about 9 meters by 5 meters. It opened into another room which was about 4 meters by 6 meters. There were ten or twelve detainees in these rooms.

During my first two days at Meggido, my vision was blurred and I felt a weakness all over the body. I could hardly stand on my feet and I had headaches and a high fever. A doctor who saw me told me I had pneumonia and gave me some medication. I think it was caused by the harsh conditions in the cell.

The detainees who were with me in Meggido treated me politely and spoke to me in a totally ordinary way. One of them introduced himself as the person in charge of the detainees and said he could contact the leaders of the organizations on the outside and that I should tell him about my interrogation, what I was interrogated about, what I had said and also what I didn't tell in the interrogation. At first, I didn't suspect him or the other detainees who were with me in the room, but little by little I started suspecting them.

At Meggido I saw sunlight and breathed fresh air for the first time since I had been arrested. There was enough food and it was of good quality. The food included fresh fruit and vegetables, meat and chicken. It was well cooked and spiced. After 11 days at Meggido, I was brought back to the detention facility in Petach Tikva.

When I was taken back to Petach Tikva, I still hadn't recovered from the pneumonia, but on the day I got there, they took me to the interrogation room. During the interrogation they told me that in Meggido I was in a room with 'asafeer (collaborators whose job is to encourage prisoners to talk) and because I didn't properly cooperate during the interrogation, I was now going to undergo a military interrogation (tahqiq `askari). That morning they got me into the interrogation room at around 9:00 AM and held me there until 7:00 AM the next morning.

The interrogators made me sit on the same chair I had sat on before and interrogated me for many hours. Until about 10:00 PM , they only used threats and curses and not physical violence. Between 10:00 PM that night and 5:00 AM the next morning, they started using physical violence. They pulled my head backwards suddenly, and pulled my shoulder back forcefully with my hands still tied behind the chair's back rest, to cause pain in my shoulders. Besides this, they would suddenly strike my forehead forcefully to prevent me from falling asleep.

At some point, between 10:00 PM and 5:00 AM , the interrogators freed me from the chair and ordered me to sit on it with my chest against the back rest. The interrogators tied my hands behind my back and my legs to the chair's base. Then, one of them stood in front of me and pushed me backwards. The other stood behind me and supported my back with his hand. At some point, the interrogator in front of me kept pushing me backwards and the one behind me stopped supporting my back, and then my back would fall backwards while my legs were still tied to the base of the chair, my behind was still on the seat. My entire upper body was arched back. It caused severe pain in my back. The interrogators repeated this many times. The interrogator who stood behind me would also pull my hands from the palms up while my hands were tied behind my back. It increased the pain in my shoulders. At a certain point he would let go of me suddenly so I would fall backwards.

At about 5:00 AM , the interrogators stopped using physical methods against me and took my testimony for about two hours. At about 7:00 AM they took me back to the cell. I was hurting all over and I couldn't sleep. At around 10:00 AM , they took me back into the interrogation room and asked me if I had anything else to say. They held me there for a short while and then took me to the detention facility's clinic. The same man who talked to me when I was there the first time, gave me a very strong, concentrated pain killer, but I was afraid to take it so I refused. Over the next three days, I wasn't interrogated at all and I was left in the cell.

After that they renewed the interrogation. They interrogated me between 8:00 AM and 11:00 PM every day, except Friday and Saturday, for five weeks. During this period of time, I met with a Red Cross representative. During these weeks they didn't use physical violence against me, but they constantly threatened they would. Every time I asked to go to the bathroom during the interrogation, it took a few hours until they would allow it. The combination of the pneumonia, the physical means they used against me, the sleep deprivation and the harsh conditions in which I was held caused me great suffering.

few days after the violent interrogation, they let me meet with a lawyer for the first time since the first few days in detentions. I was indicted at the military court in Salem for assisting persons wanted by the security forces and possession of weapons. The next hearing is on 25 July 2006 .

M.H., age 29, is single, a resident of Nablus District, working for a car part company. His testimony was given to Att. Hisham Abou Shehadeh on 8 June 2006 at the Sharon Police Detention Facility in Petach Tikva.