Israeli human rights groups HaMoked and B’Tselem [advocacy websites] released [press release] a report Wednesday detailing alleged mistreatment of detained Palestinians. The report, entitled “Backed by the System” [text, PDF], gives first hand accounts of abuse reportedly suffered by more than 100 detainees in at the Shikma Prison. The report found that many individuals were arrested at their homes after midnight, subjected to violence during transport, and often blindfolded until they reached the prison:
Sleep deprivation, sometimes for days at a time; being bound hand and foot to a chair, with movement restricted for hours on end; being subjected to shouting, swearing, threats, spitting, and indignities; exposure to extreme cold and heat; little and substandard food; being denied the possibility to shower or change clothes for days and even weeks; incarceration in a small, foul-smelling cell, usually in solitary confinement, for many days. The above are some of the standard features of interrogation at the interrogation facility run by the Israel Security Agency (ISA) [official website] at Shikma Prison in Ashkelon, southern Israel.
The groups further allege that the Israeli government and judiciary are not only aware of the conditions and practices of the facility but that they also support them. The report calls on Israel and its supporters to prevent further abuse of detainees and adhere to previous bans on torture as an interrogation tactic.
Recent conflicts between Israel and Palestine [HRW backgrounder] over settlements in the occupied West Bank have raised concerns over possible human rights violations. UN Special Rapporteur for Palestinian Territories Makarim Wibisono [official profile] urged [JURIST report] Israel in February to address its use of excessive force against Palestinians and to charge or release all administrative detainees. Last month Human Rights Watch (HRW) [advocacy website] urged [JURIST report] businesses to cease operations in Israel settlements. In August UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon urged both sides of the conflict [JURIST report] to reconcile and move towards peace after an attack occurred in the West Bank village of Duma, where Jewish extremists allegedly set fire to a Palestinian home while the family slept. Last January Germany’s top human rights official urged Israel to cooperate with the International Criminal Court (ICC) [official website] probe into possible war crimes in Palestinian territories. After a prosecutor for the ICC announced the investigation [JURIST report], Israel’s government said that it would not work with the ICC and called for its funding to be cut.