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Israel doctors enabling Shin Bet’s ‘torture industry’, says veteran activist

A group of people stage a demonstration in front of the Israel’s West Bank separation wall to show their support to the Palestinian prisoners in Bethlehem, West Bank on 22 March 2019 [Wisam Hashlamoun/Anadolu Agency]
A group of people stage a demonstration in front of the Israel’s West Bank separation wall to show their support to the Palestinian prisoners held in Israeli prions on 22 March 2019 [Wisam Hashlamoun/Anadolu Agency]

A veteran Israeli activist has accused doctors of enabling the torture of Palestinian prisoners.

Writing in +972 Magazine, Dr. Ruchama Marton, who founded Physicians for Human Rights – Israel (PHR), declared how “troubled” she has been by the way that “Israeli doctors cooperate with and enable Israel’s torture industry”.

Addressing the current case of Samer Arbeed, a Palestinian detainee hospitalised after being tortured during interrogation, Marton dismissed the “absurd” denial issued by Shin Bet, who rejected the claim that their agents were somehow responsible for his condition.

Marton recounted how, in the mid-1990s, two Shin Bet medical documents came to light which “asked doctors to sign off on torture in accordance with several previously agreed-upon clauses”.

PHR subsequently urged the Israel Medical Association to “join the struggle against torture”, Marton wrote, but the body was merely “satisfied with putting our statements while doing nothing to prevent the Shin Bet’s doctors from cooperating with torture”.

READ: 73 prisoners killed due to torture in Israeli jails since 1967

According to the veteran doctor-activist, “it is not only doctors in the Shin Bet and the Israel Prison Service that collaborate with torture”, but “doctors in emergency rooms across Israel write false medical opinions in accordance with the demands of the Shin Bet.”

“History teaches us that doctors everywhere easily and effectively internalize the regime’s values, and many of them become loyal servants of the regime,” Marton wrote.

“That was the case in Nazi Germany, in the United States, and in various countries in Latin America. The same goes for Israel.”

The medical document, she continued, “allows for sleep prevention, it allows interrogators to expose prisoners to extreme temperatures, to beat them, to tie them for long hours in painful positions, to force them to stand for hours until the vessels in their feet burst, to cover their heads for prolonged periods of time, to sexually humiliate them, to break their spirits by severing their ties to family and lawyers, to keep them in isolation until they lose their sanity.”

“The doctor knows to what kind of systematic process of pain and humiliation he or she is lending their consent and approval,” Marton stated. “It is doctors who oversee the torture, examine the tortured prisoner, and write the medical opinion or the pathology report.”

She added: “Doctors, nurses, medics, and judges who know what is taking place and prefer to remain silent are all accomplices.”

READ: The international community is complicit in Israel’s torture of Palestinians

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