How Israel tortures Palestinians

Sketch of a person sitting on another chained person on the ground

Sketch depicts one of several stress positions Israeli prison officers use against Palestinian detainees. (via Addameer)

Israel is committing crimes against humanity by torturing Palestinian detainees, prisoners rights group Addameer suggested in a recent report.

Israel’s denial of fair trials to prisoners may also constitute war crimes, the group stated.

Addameer had been collecting evidence on Israel’s use of torture and ill-treatment against Palestinian detainees since late August.

Prison officers were found to have ill-treated some 50 detainees, studied by the prisoners rights group, of whom about half were subjected to torture.

Detainees included women, university students, union workers, human rights defenders and Palestinians lawmakers.

An Israeli court in Jerusalem issued a gag order on 10 September that barred Addameer and the general public from publishing information on cases of Palestinians being held at the Russian Compound, a notorious Israeli detention center in Jerusalem.

The court renewed the order twice after that, until it expired on 7 December.


“Since its creation, the occupying state developed and enforced laws and practices that led to both: the systematic use of torture and to absolute impunity for the perpetrator of this crime,” Addameer writes in a report that goes into some detail about the forms of torture Israeli prison officers employ.

These include beatings, sleep deprivation, stress positions, sexual harassment and others.

More than 70 Palestinians have died after torture in Israeli custody since 1967, according to Addameer’s research.

This number includes 23 prisoners who died after Israel ratified the United Nations convention against torture in October 1991.

Still, not a single individual or entity was ever held accountable.

Overall, some 220 Palestinians have died in Israeli custody since 1967.


Israeli officers “hit, slapped, punched, poked (using their fingers), and kicked the detainees,” in some cases causing them life-threatening injuries.

To make matters worse, officers sometimes blindfolded detainees “so they would not expect the beating or know where it is coming from,” according to the report.

Beatings would sometimes last dozens of hours and be done by more than five different officers at once.

The complicity of Israeli doctors in crimes of torture is not to be ignored, Addameer stressed.

In some cases, Israeli doctors faked medical assessments of detainees, qualifying them for further interrogation despite there being clear signs of torture on their bodies.

Stress positions

To maximize pain and pressure, Israeli officers would sometimes force detainees into stress positions before beating them.

Stress positions not only impose physical pain on detainees, but are means of applying psychological pressure as well.

A sketch of the “banana” position, in which detainees’ hands and legs are tied to the legs of a chair, while interrogators exert pressure on their body, causing severe pain to the abdomen.

Mahmoud Nasser APA images

In almost all stress positions, Addameer says, detainees are forced to maintain a position designed to make them lose balance, giving cause to Israeli officers to beat them.

One such position has the detainee’s legs cuffed to the legs of the chair and the hands to the other side, forcing their back to arch over the seat of the chair.

Interrogators can then either sit on or beat the detainee’s abdomen.

A sketch of the so-called “banana position” was published by Addameer on Twitter, along with other such positions:

The Palestinian chair

Israeli officers went on to teach one method of torture to American occupation forces in Iraq torturing detainees at the Abu Ghraib prison.

Dubbed “the Palestinian chair,” according to Eric Fair, a former American interrogator at the prison, the stress position has detainees crouch their bodies on the chair, with their weight centered on their thighs.

“They call it the Palestinian chair,” Fair wrote in his memoir “Consequence,” referring to two American army sergeants.

“They say the Israelis taught them how to build it during a joint training exercise. I assume it’s called the Palestinian chair because that’s who was forced to sit in it,” he wrote.

“They say everyone breaks in the chair.”

In his memoir, Fair describes the self-disgust he went on to live with having witnessed a detainee tortured in the Palestinian chair.

“Witnessing a man being tortured in the Palestinian chair requires the witness to either seek justice or cover his face. … I’ll spend the rest of my life covering my face,” he wrote.

“Having seen the Palestinian chair, it’s impossible to deny that it has all been wrong.”

US-Israeli cooperation

Other shared tactics between Israeli and American interrogators and occupiers include sleep deprivation and a variety of psychological tortures including threats of rape.

Cooperation between the United States and Israel also extends to joint police trainings.

Israel’s domestic spy agency, the Shin Bet, practices torture “as standard operating procedure in a systematic and wide-scale approach against Palestinian detainees,” which Addameer affirms could amount to a crime against humanity.

While Israel’s high court supposedly outlawed torture in 1999, it ruled that the Shin Bet can use torture in supposedly “ticking time-bomb” circumstances to investigate Palestinian prisoners.

Israel’s “ticking time-bomb” loophole was cited by US foreign spy agency the CIA to justify its torture regime – a US Senate inquiry revealed in 2014 – another example of sinister cooperation between the two states on matters of torture.


Another shared consequence of American and Israeli crimes is impunity.

Since 2001, some 1,200 complaints against Israeli interrogators were filed, according to the Public Committee Against Torture in Israel.

Every single case was closed with zero indictments.

“This Israeli illegal occupation has violated all the legal elements of an occupation under international law,” the Addameer report concludes.

There are no domestic legal means to seek justice, it adds, as those complicit are part and partial of Israel’s legal system and government.

“In fact, the agencies complicit in those crimes include the intelligence agency, military court, military prosecution, Hight Court, and even the medical staff that were involved in providing medical care and assessment for those detainees subjected to torture and ill-treatment.”

As evidence of Israeli war crimes continues to mount, so should investigations and indictments by the International Criminal Court.

Correction: An earlier version of this article misdescribed the technicality of the “Palestinian chair” stress position.




Double standard's towards certain countries it becomes with terrible cost and unimaginable, and
fear of security and anticipation of revenge I'm sure must be unbearable.
Enemy of Americans are not so strong and obviously they don't have the means but certainly,they have unbreakable motivations to revenge is there and that " White Elephant" in the room getting bigger and by the time it might becomes unignorable. For other countries keeping silent about this injustice for one reason ( economical sanction) makes them impotent and inactive and perhaps it's disturbing their humanitarian conscience.


Israel and USA ore rogue countries, who can operate outside of international laws. Sadly, the entire, so called "western world" is complicit in allowing their behavior of impunity. On the flip side, it is only a question of time before this Zionism-influence of world domination will crumble.


Israel is risking it's existence. It's hastening it's demise by committing crimes against Palestinians every day.


Israel and the United States are now a single country. Or rather, we're confronted with the liminal reality of one country living within another, much larger entity. This condition is visible in the bipartisan congressional support for Israel regardless of the issue at hand. It's certainly evident in presidential politics, especially with regard to the current occupant of the White House. In mass media we see rock-solid support for Israel and unremitting hostility towards the Palestinians. Zionist oligarchs play a leading role in campaign financing. Laws are drafted at the specific behest of Israel. The American police agencies have merged with their Israeli counterparts, sharing technologies of repression, tactics, and attitudes toward disfavored communities. In this context, the fact that torture methods are exchanged and refined ought to surprise no one.

It may be that we are seeing today an emerging, new form of state- non-territorial in scope, containing colonial nodes deep within structures of power rather than on their periphery as in previous forms of imperialism. This has always been Zionism's goal- to operate freely and decisively within the political and economic system of a larger power- the Ottoman empire, the British, the American. They appear to have largely accomplished their aims. Yet they seem increasingly distressed and concerned over the informational advances being made by the BDS campaign against all that money, power and control. I wonder why.


Read the book "A Place Outside the Law, forgotten voices from Guantanamo" by Peter Jan Honigsberg to answer your question.


I can recommemd 2 books. The torture in Guantanamo ofteen starts in the middle east. Mark Danners book Torture and truth in Abu Gharaib is the best book with photos. Then when rendition has taken place to Guantanamo i recommend the book already stated as well as Mark Fallon Unjustifiable Means. Or Witnesses of the unseen. 7 years in Guantanamo. If u specifically want to read about Palestine there is no better than Norman Finklestein. His books such as Gaza or This time we went too far, Beyond Chutzpah or Image and reality of the palestinian israel conflict are brilliant.


The zionists and their followers (the Zionistas) are living a lie. They do not worship or praise or honour their God by what they do, they abuse their God by what they do and God does not deserve to be so abused!
God forgives those who know not what they do, God will never forgive the zionists for they know Exactly what they do.

Tamara Nassar

Tamara Nassar is an assistant editor at The Electronic Intifada.