Israeli security staff are alleged to have tortured Palestinian suspects raising further concerns over what rights group have described as the “systematic use of torture and ill-treatment at Israeli interrogation centres.”
Three Palestinians standing trial for carrying out an attack in which 17-year-old Rina Shnerb was killed in the occupied West Bank in August, displayed signs of torture. According to the Times of Israel, one of the men was hospitalised with kidney failure and 11 broken ribs. Another was nearly unrecognisable to his wife when he was wheeled into a courtroom. A third was stitched up after being attacked by a security dog.
Lawyers and family members of the three main suspects are reported saying that they were tortured to the point of being hospitalised. Several other Palestinians swept up by the Shin Bet internal security service said they were threatened, beaten, forced into painful stress positions and denied sleep.
Forty-four-year-old Samer Arbeed, believed by Israeli officials to be the mastermind of the attack was beaten and interrogated for 36 hours. He was left with kidney failure and 11 broken ribs. The Shin Bet, Israel’s security agency, attempted to downplay Arbeed’s injury saying that he “did not feel well” during interrogation and was taken to a hospital. They provided no further detail.
The wife of a second suspect, Walid Hanatsheh, said she was unable to recognise her 51-year-old husband when she saw him 60 days after his arrest. “He was brought into court in a wheelchair,” she said. “He looked very old, his beard was plucked from several places and his eyes were deep inside his head. He was not himself,” she said.
The third suspect, 22-year-old Qassem Barghouti, was bitten in his genitals by a security dog when authorities raided his home near the West Bank city of Ramallah.
This is the second time in a month that Israel’s security officials have been accused of torturing Palestinians. The father of captive Mais Abu-Ghosh, a student of Birzeit University and from Qalandiya refugee camp, north of occupied Jerusalem, divulged that his daughter was subjected to harsh investigation and torture at Al-Maskubiya Investigation Centre, since her arrest on 29 August.
The allegations are consistent with Addameer’s report on the “systematic use of torture and ill-treatment at Israeli interrogation centres”. The Prisoner Support and Human Rights Association, which has been following the case of the three Palestinian suspects closely, said that “since its creation, the occupying state enforced and developed laws and practices that led to both the systematic use of torture and to absolute impunity for the perpetrator of this crime.”
Israeli human rights group have also voiced their concerns. Rachel Stroumsa, the executive director of the Public Committee Against Torture in Israel, described the allegations of torture as being “very credible” and line up with the testimony her group has gathered from other detainees over the years.
“Torture is forbidden absolutely,” Strousma said. “There are things we do not do. We don’t rape. We don’t enslave people. We don’t torture. That’s a moral code. It’s also a legal code which Israel is bound to.”