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Israel forces unlawfully abusing Palestinian detainees: rights groups

Palestinian detainees have been subjected to "cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment," and at times torture by Israel's Shin Bet Security Agency in violation of international and domestic law, according to a report [text, PDF, press release] released Tuesday by human rights groups B'Tselem and HaMoked [advocacy websites]. The details of the report, "Kept in the Dark," are based on the testimony of 121 Palestinians held in the detention facility in 2009. The report, which details the treatment of Palestinian detainees held by Shin Bet in the Petach-Tikva interrogation facility, says that in 30 percent of the cases, physical violence is used towards the detainees, either during the initial arrest or on the way to the detention facility. This alleged torture and ill-treatment violates several international legal instruments such as the Geneva Conventions, International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the Convention Against Torture and the Rome Statute. The practices also violate a 1999 Israeli Supreme Court decision, which held that Shin Bet interrogations must be held in a "reasonable and fair manner, without violating the detainee's dignity." The report explained:

The acts described in this report as the routine practice in interrogations at the Shin Bet facility in Petach-Tikva breach the absolute prohibition on cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment. There are also cases in the report that caused severe suffering that amounts to torture. Alongside the general prohibition on torture and on cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment, Israel's handling and treatment of the detainees as revealed in this report breaches various codes regarding detention conditions.
The Israeli Justice Ministry has denied the allegations [JP report], claiming that Israel's military procedures respect the law.

Israel has faced repeated criticism by human rights organizations for its treatment of Palestinian detainees. In June 2009, the Public Committee Against Torture in Israel (PCATI) [advocacy website] alleged that shackling techniques used by Israel Defense Forces (IDF) and the Shin Bet against Palestinian detainees were unjustifiably harsh and constituted torture [JURIST report]. In June 2008, PCATI alleged that Israeli soldiers regularly beat [JURIST report] and abuse Palestinian detainees even after they have been arrested and no longer pose a threat. PCATI said military violence against detainees is "reinforced by a weak legal system which conducts only a small number of investigations and legal proceedings that concern cases of abuse by soldiers." The Israeli military has denied treating prisoners in any way prohibited by national or international law.

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