Date: 30 / 05 / 2007 Time: 15:07
Bethlehem - Ma'an - The Public Committee Against Torture in Israel (PCATI) has issued a report documenting a number of Palestinian cases of torture endured during interrogation at the hands of the Israeli domestic intelligence service, Shin Bet.
In the report, which is entitled "Ticking Bombs", PCATI harshly criticises the Israeli High Court's approval of the use of controversial methods to interrogate Palestinians, saying that, in Israel, there is "no effective barrier – not legal and certainly not ethical – that stands in the way of using torture." The ruling, PCATI says, has been interpreted by the Shin Bet as a green light to torture almost every Palestinian detainee.
The report includes detailed accounts of nine Palestinian detainees who underwent torture, physical, sexual and psychological, at the hands of their Israeli interrogators.
In one case, Bahjat Yamen, a resident of Qalqiliya, said: “I simply felt terrified, and I had excruciating pains in my back and I felt that my back was about to really break, and I yelled and cried and begged, but the torture did not stop. When the interrogation was over, at approximately 4 in the morning, they took me down to the cell. And all the time there were noises in the cell – knocking at the door… and I would even hear my own screams during the interrogation, which they had apparently taped”.
Another detainee, Amin Ahmad Jamil Shqirat, from a-Sawahra a-Sharqiyyeh, near Bethlehem said: "The interrogators sat me on a chair, with the chair's back to the right of me. One interrogator sat facing me, and another behind me, and they forced me to wrap my legs around the legs of the chair. One of them stepped on my feet and pushed me back at a certain angle, which caused me a lot of pain around my stomach and abdominal muscles. When I tried to straighten myself, the one behind me would pull me back, until my strength was exhausted and I lay back on the floor behind me, because I could no longer restrain myself due to the cramps in my abdominal muscles.
"That's not all. When I started leaning my head back, one of the interrogators hit me in the stomach and in the abdominal muscles, and held my legs and shook them, which caused tears in my stomach.
"I insisted I was innocent, and they changed their style. They brought long metal handcuffs and bound my hands behind me with the cuffs on my arms. They would close the cuffs and press on them until the metal dug into the flesh and you felt your arm has been amputated. When I cried out in pain, they laughed and jeered”.
Luwaii Ashqar from Saida near Tulkarem reported: "the interrogators would force me to stand on my tip-toes for an hour to an hour and a half, while my hands were shackled and stretched. My hands, when they were shackled, were swollen and blue…
"From 22 April until 26 April, they gave me water only, and no food, and they would not allow me to sleep. The interrogators rotated every four hours."
According to the report, the idea of a "ticking bomb" was first coined as a literary concept by a French author in relation to the French occupation of Algeria, “which was no less brutal than the Israeli occupation of Palestinian Territories.”
PCATI explains in its introduction to the report that "the testimonies of the nine terror victims exemplify the extent to which the torture mechanism is rooted in the treatment of Palestinian detainees, and the exceedingly bureaucratic way in which torture is carried out, in an organized, almost blasé manner.”
“Today in Israel, there is no effective barrier – not legal and certainly not ethical – that stands in the way of using torture," PCATI continues. "A secret service organization such as the GSS (Shin Bet) decides independently to use torture and, afterwards, investigates itself as to whether the use of interrogation was justified.
“The Justice Ministry – from the Attorney General through the State Attorney's Office and the nameless GSS Ombudsman of Interogees' Complaints – gives systematic and blind backing to the interrogation methods of the GSS. The legal system tends to avoid torture victims' complaints,” the report said.
PCATI director Hannah Friedman warns Israel, “A state that views itself as a democracy committed to the protection of human rights cannot allow torture that is derived from the darkness of the Middle Ages.”
According to the news website of the Israeli paper Yedioth Ahronoth, the Shin Bet security agency said in response, “It must be stressed that the information derived from these interrogations helped prevent and thwart acts of terror against Israeli citizens.”
However, according to PCATI's report, "Torture does not prevent terror. Torture compromises the morality of the torturer, and the body and soul of the tortured. Torture reflects and at the same time perpetuates a view of the other as one undeserving of humane treatment, and as such, also reduces the chances of escaping the cycle of fear, hatred, mutual killing and ethical deterioration."
PCATI demands that the government of Israel "fully implement the orders of international law regarding the treatment of detainees and prisoners," including "completely and unequivocally" prohibiting torture by law.
For more information, see www.stoptorture.org.il/eng/
Science panel criticizes harsh interrogation styles
By Scott Shane
and Mark Mazzetti
Published: Wednesday, May 30, 2007
WASHINGTON - As the Bush administration completes secret new rules governing interrogations, a group of experts advising the intelligence agencies argues that the harsh techniques used since 2001 are outmoded, amateurish and unreliable.
This also applies to Israel. Torture is about fear and social control. That is all.
Torture's Dirty Secret: It Works