Thursday, August 30, 2007

Palestinians Being Tortured in Israeli Prisons

Portion of article below; link to whole here:

"Today, more than 8,000 Palestinians are locked in Israel's prisons, most without due process. For the majority, their crime is resisting a nation that violently stole 90 percent of their parents' and grandparents' land and possessions and expelled them to wretched detention camps in Gaza, the West Bank, and Lebanon. (See, The Simple Explanation for Mid-East Strife) These sons and grandsons were imprisoned for crimes ranging from stone-throwing at Israeli tanks to violent terrorist activity. As prisoners, they have virtually no rights. Many are held without charge or trial. They can be legally tortured without restraint. Since at least 1967, the government of Israel has vehemently denied that it uses torture, and Israel signed the 1987 Landau Agreement banning most forms of torture. [1] But in 1995 a secret government report (not released until 2000) admitted Israel does torture. [2] In 1999 Israel's Supreme Court ruled that torture can be employed as a "necessity" in exceptional cases when officers have reason to believe they can prevent a crime. This has created a loophole, exempting interrogators/torturers from punishment as long as they claim they tortured in the national interest. [3]

"Since every Palestinian prisoner may be viewed as possessing information valuable to preventing terrorist attacks, virtually all have been tortured. The Palestine Monitor reports that since 1987 the Israeli Security Agency has tortured at least 850 Palestinians a year during interrogations. Since the Supreme Court ruling in 1999, according to the Israeli human rights organization B'Tselm, 85 percent of Palestinian prisoners are still subjected to torture. The Monitor asserts that during the first Intifada (1987-1993), Israeli security "interrogated approximately 23,000 Palestinians." The Public Committee Against Torture (PCAT) estimates that almost all suffered some torture during interrogation. [4]

"The Palestine Monitor says that methods of interrogation and torture frequently used by Israeli security service include:

"Tying up detainees in painful positions for hours or days.
Containment in tiny cramped spaces (for days, prisoners have been stuffed in boxes about 2 feet square and 5 feet high, often with spiked floors).
Prolonged beatings.
Enclosing the detainee's head in a sack (often soaked with urine and feces). Violent "shaking" (Physicians for Human Rights says this has caused brain damage, even death). [5]
Bending body in extremely painful positions.
Prolonged exposure to extreme cold or heat.
Sexual, verbal, and psychological abuse.
Threats against the individual's life or family members' lives.
Playing extremely loud music.
Choking and pulling out hair (prisoners have been forced to swallow hair).
Intentional tightening of handcuffs (According to Amnesty International, the handcuffs used by the Israeli Security forces are in themselves a form of torture, "the plastic handcuffs tighten on the detainee's wrist, causing intense pain; former detainees describe their wrists becoming blue as a result of their tightening and adult men screaming with pain as they begged to be taken off."
Putting head of prisoner in toilet bowl. [6]

"Some prisoners are guilty of terrorist acts, including attempted suicide bombings. As victims of injustice, they have also committed injustice. Yet international law forbids torturing prisoners, military or civilian, even to obtain vital information. The Old Testament, ostensibly respected by Israel's government, also gives no sanction to torture, even of Israel's bitterest enemies. The implicit message of the Old Testament is that torture is barbaric, unthinkable among God's chosen people.[ 7]

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