On the occasion of the UN International Day in Support of the Victims of Torture tomorrow, June 26, the Public Committee Against Torture in Israel (PCATI) published some of its finding on torture in Israel. These findings are part of a report that will be published by PCATI in the coming weeks.
The Public Committee Against Torture in Israel concludes that since the outset of the Al Aqsa Intifada in September 2000, there has been a sharp increase in the torture, ill-treatment, degradation and confinement in inhuman conditions during the interrogation of Palestinian detainees by the GSS. PCATI estimates that every month hundreds of Palestinians are subjected to some degree of torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment by the GSS in comparison to a mere “scores” of such cases during 2001.
The ill-treatment of detainees during arrest and detention includes abuse of the detainee’s family, violence during arrest and on the way to the detention facility, shackling in plastic manacles and inhuman conditions of confinement. Other forms of torture and ill-treatment include being suspended with legs up, ‘goal’ (a stone-throwing contest at the detainee), forcing the detainee to run blindfolded and tripping him, stripping (sometimes to complete nakedness), intimidation using a dog, cocking a weapon - as if intending a summary execution, and others. During GSS interrogations, the majority of the Palestinian detainees are exposed to direct violence including beating, slapping, kicking, bending the body and tying in painful positions, intentional tightening of shackles and violent shaking. In addition detainees are subjected to sleep deprivation, threats and humiliation.
According to Hannah Friedman, Executive Director of PCATI “The systems that are meant to supervise the GSS and ensure that interrogations are conducted legally, function instead as rubber stamps for GSS decisions and gatekeepers of the GSS interrogation chambers. The High Court of Justice did not accept even one of the 124 petitions submitted by the Public Committee Against Torture against preventing a meeting between detainees and their attorneys during this critical period of time during which it is highly probable that torture will be used. The Attorney General grants wholesale approval of the ‘necessity defense’ in every case of torture without exception.
According to Friedman, the achievements of the High Court of Justice ruling of 1999 which was meant to put an end to large-scale torture and ill-treatment and to limit them to lone cases of a ‘ticking bomb,’ have worn thin, not in the lease as a result of the Court’s unprepared ness to enforce the international standards which prohibit torture and ill-treatment under any circumstances and particularly in times of war’.