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B'Tselem: Palestinian children tortured to force confession

February 13, 2014 at 12:32 am

The Israeli human rights organization B’Tselem issued a report on Thursday stating that “Palestinian citizens, mostly minors, have been subjected to harassment and torture at the hands of Israeli interrogators in an attempt to force them to confess to private security offenses related to throwing stones.”

The organization added that since November 2009, it has received dozens of statements made by Palestinian residents of Bethlehem and the Hebron districts, mostly minors, where they spoke about their exposure to extreme violence during interrogation, and either the threat of torture or actual torture itself at Gush Etzion police station.

It is clear from the statements that the investigators asked those minors to confess to the offenses, mostly stone throwing, and in the vast majority of the cases, the investigators had only stopped using violence against them upon their confession to the charges.

The report included a statement made by a 14 year-old minor from the village of Hosan in Bethlehem, in which he said “the interrogator brought me to a room, he grabbed my head and began to hit my head on the wall, and then punched me with his fist, slapped me and kicked me on my leg.”

“The pain was a tremendous and I felt that I was unable to stand on my feet. Then the detective offended me verbally in a very vulgar way where he called my mother bad names. He threatened to rape me and commit sexual acts with me if I wouldn’t confess to throwing stones.”

“I was very scared of his threats because he was too harsh and we were alone in the room, and I remembered what I saw in the news when British and American soldiers raped and photographed naked Iraqi citizens.”

B’Tselem said that by July 2013 its researchers had gathered 64 testimonies from throughout the eight Palestinian towns located south of the West Bank. In the statements, Palestinians spoke about the violence perpetrated against them by detectives in Gush Etzion police station, including 56 minors.

The report noted that the interrogations included slapping, punching, kicking and beating using different tools, such as a gun or stick, and some said they had been subjected to sexual threats against them or the women of their families, or “electric shock” torture that would affect their fertility.

The detainees confirmed in their statements that “only after confessing to throwing stones were they taken to another room where another investigator wearing police uniforms asked them to repeat their confessions so that they were taped, and then they were ordered to sign a document that is written Hebrew, a language they do not know, without realizing what they had to sign on to.”

The organization said it has sent the testimonies to the Police Investigations Department (Mahash), but the majority of Palestinians who testified declined to submit a complaint to the “Mahash” for fear of reprisals by the police and the Israeli security services, while Mahash has not even finished its probe into complaints that were file in June of last year.

The Israeli police has denied that its detectives are committing such acts during the interrogation of Palestinian detainees, while also refusing to comment on B’Tselem’s report, claiming that Mahash is still investigating the complaints that have been filed.