Israeli interrogators torture Palestinian detainee

24 April 2001

Israeli Shabak (the Israeli General Security Apparatus) interrogators used torture against Mohammad Faraj Allah, a Palestinian detainee at Asqalan prison. The detainee is 51 years old and lives at Ithna in the district of Hebron. Faraj Allah told LAW Society’s lawyer Labib Habib during a visit to Asqalan prison on Monday 23 April 2001 that he had undergone interrogation for three days from the first day of his arrest. He had been subjected to beating and sleep deprivation (only allowed to sleep six hours in three days) until he passed out and was taken to hospital. After treatment, the prisoner was interrogated from 10 am to 4 am for three weeks. Faraj Allah was arrested on 24 March 2001 while driving his children to school. He was attacked by seventy members of the Israeli Special Forces, who fired on his car despite the fact that he did not resist arrest. He was severely beaten by the Israeli Special Forces during the arrest; suffering a head wound that required seven stitches, and three broken ribs. Faraj Allah added that the Israeli interrogators photographed him inside a well-furnished room with someone handing him a present so that people would think he was a collaborator. When Faraj Allah protested, he was severely beaten. He has spent 26 days in solitary confinement since his arrest. Faraj Allah is Fatah Secretary in Ithna. He has high blood pressure, allergies, a kidney infection, muscle pain and rheumatism. The Israeli Shabak has used torture against Palestinian detainees at Asqalan prison before, such as “Shabeh,” which is painful shackling in contorted positions for long hours, sleep deprivation, drenching in cold water, death threats and threats of sexual abuse. Ayman El Ajluni, another Palestinian detainees tortured at Asqalan prison, told LAW that the Asqalan prison interrogators used torturous methods for the first five days of his detention. During interrogation, he was forced to sit blindfolded on a tiny chair with his hands bound behind his back. He was prevented from sleeping, threatened with death and subjected to abusive language. Yunis Al Atrash, a 41 year-old father of 12 also from Hebron, told LAW’s lawyer that special Israeli forces broke into his house in Israeli-controlled Hebron on 8 January 2001, carried out a thorough search and took him to Asqalan prison, where Shabak interrogators used torturous methods during the first five days of his detention. Al Atrash was forced to sit blindfolded on a tiny chair with his hands bound behind his back, drenched in icy water and subjected to abusive language. On 15 January 2001, LAW learnt from the office of the Israeli Attorney General that an investigation into allegations of torture brought forward by Rami Iz'oul, an 18 year-old Palestinian detainee, would not be carried out, under the pretext that it was not a matter of "public interest". The Israeli Attorney’s letter came in response to a complaint filed by LAW, through attorney Labib Habib, with the Department for Investigation of Police Misconduct on 3 December 2000. LAW had demanded an investigation into Iz'oul ’s interrogation. Rami Iz'oul was arrested by Israeli soldiers from his home in the West Bank village of Husan near Bethlehem on 30 October 2000 and has been in detention ever since. Iz'oul claims that he was beaten and had ice cold water poured over his head during interrogation. Due to the torture, Iz'oul was hospitalized for one night in Jerusalem’s Hadassa hospital. The 18 year-old reported that after being discharged from the hospital he was beaten again and threatened into signing a false confession. On 6 September 1999, the Israeli High Court issued a judgment outlawing specific interrogation methods amounting to torture. The High Court further stated that a reasonable interrogation was necessarily one free of torture, cruel and inhuman treatment. The Court highlighted that "brutal and inhuman means" were prohibited during interrogation and that human dignity includes the dignity of the suspect being interrogated. LAW believes that the practices used during the interrogation of Rami Iz'oul amount to "brutal and inhuman means" and are therefore in contradiction of the High Court ruling of 6 September 1999. For this reason, LAW maintains that an investigation into the allegations of torture brought forward by Rami Iz'oul is of the utmost importance and will further pursue the issue with the Israeli State Prosecutor's Office. LAW is concerned that if a proper investigation into the case is not carried out, Israeli interrogators will see it as a signal that acts of torture and ill treatment will go unpunished. Under international law, interrogation methods that constitute torture or ill treatment are absolutely prohibited and subject to universal jurisdiction.

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LAW - The Palestinian Society for the Protection of Human Rights and the Environment is a non-governmental organisation dedicated to preserving human rights through legal advocacy. LAW is affiliate to the International Commission of Jurists (ICJ), Fédération Internationale des Ligues de Droits de l'Homme (FIDH), World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT) and Member of the Euro- Mediterranean Human Rights Network.