The absence of any obvious commitment to human rights and the terms of the UN Charter has led the Palestinian Minister of Prisoners’ Affairs to call for a UN boycott of Israel. Isa Qaraq’e pointed out that 178 UN Resolutions condemning Israeli violence against Palestinian prisoners since 1967 have not convinced Israel to end its illegal policies and practices.
“Torture, abuse and ritual humiliation against Palestinians in Israeli jails suggests the corruption of the security and military institutions,” claims a ministry report issued to mark the Universal Day against Torture.
In recent years, alleges the report, torture has become not only a means to extract confessions from prisoners, but also a “methodology to humiliate and degrade their humanity”. This can be seen by the photographs taken and published by Israeli soldiers and interrogators showing their handcuffed and blindfolded prisoners, it adds.
Sexual abuse of prisoners is also a major issue it is claimed, mainly against children. “They oblige the children to take their clothes off and sexual harassment occurs; they are threatened with rape.”
One of the surprising facts noted in the report is that doctors in the Israeli prison service, who are supposed to take care of the prisoners, have been reported for taking take turns in acts of torture and interrogation.
Another “brutal and illegal” fact mentioned in the report is that the prisoners go through unseen stages of torture in settlements or military bases before being taken to prison. “It is called a ‘softening-up process’ by the army and it is completely hidden.” Prisoners who have experienced this treatment confirm that it is “sadism” which “proves the brutality of the Israeli military”.
In the past, prison staff had to seek court approval for torture against individuals posing a serious risk. Today, however, torture has apparently become the norm. Israeli interrogators have been encouraged by prominent politicians and rabbis to “deal savagely” with Palestinian prisoners.
On the Universal Day against Torture, the report confirmed that Israel is the only state which practises torture explicitly within a legal framework on the grounds of “protecting national security”. New laws in Israel allow detention for up to 90 days without access to a lawyer, as well as the use of violence against prisoners during interrogation.
Minister Isa Qaraq’e said that Israeli interrogators enjoy immunity and all complaints filed against them have been neglected. He reiterated that Israel does not feel obliged to change its policies by any of the 178 resolutions issued by the UN since 1967 which condemn its harsh treatment of Palestinian prisoners.