June 26, 2020

London - Today marks the United Nations International Day in Support of Victims of Torture. This day was announced by the UN General Assembly in 1977 with a view to the total eradication of torture and the effective functioning of the Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment (CIDT) or Punishment. On this anniversary, the International Platform of NGOs Working for Palestine (Ipalestine) reminds the international community that this day comes amidst an escalation of practices of torture and CIDT committed against Palestinians by Israel, but also by the Palestinian security services, as a result of the on-going state of political division. Thousands of Palestinians have been subjected to illegal interrogation methods that were used systematically by the Israeli General Services (GSS) over the past three decades. Thousands of Palestinians, who were convicted according to information that were forcibly taken from them after being tortured, are still detained inside the Israeli prisons. Additionally, there is a huge number of Palestinians who are until this day suffering from the social and psychological trauma of torture, despite of Israel ongoing denial of responsibilities for its crimes practiced against Palestinians in general and Palestinian prisoners in particular.

iPalestine, based on the statistics provided by Addameer civil organization, draws attention to fact that there are currently 4600 Palestinian prisoners and detainees held in Israeli prisons and detentions centers. Among those, 170 are children, 39 are women, and 373 are administrative detainees held without charge where most of them report experiencing torture and/or CIDT. Practicing torture against Palestinian prisoners and detainees in Israeli prisons and detention centers is evident in the Israeli High Court decision to permit the internal Israeli intelligence security agency (ISA) the Shabak to practice a “reasonable amount of” psychological and physical pressure on Palestinian detainees.  Accordingly, Israel’s General Security Service Law gives the ISA personnel legal immunity for practices while serving the country as long as they act “reasonably and in good faith” to quote ISA, allowing tortures to apply what is called “necessity defense”. Additionally, the Israeli law exempts the police from recording interrogation sessions with Palestinian prisoners, nevertheless, police are legally required to record interrogations with Israeli prisoners.

Civil society organizations concerned with rights of Palestinians being tortured by the Israeli occupation, including the Treatment and Rehabilitation Centre for Victims of Torture (TRC) organization, illustrate that the Israeli authorities do not apply adequate investigations with complaints against Israeli interrogators accused of using torture on Palestinian prisoners. If such investigations were to happen, those complaints are investigated in-house by an ISA agent, who is not considered to be impartial where perpetrators of torture are exempted from criminal liability by the Attorney General under the “defense of necessity”.  Moreover, the Israeli authority rejected to approve that Committee Against Torture (CAT) is authorized to receive and examine individual complaints from the Palestinian prisoners and detainees. Likewise, Israel has rejected to ratify CAT’s Optional Protocol, what allows for effective civil society oversight. Therefore, it’s clear that all of this is an obvious proof that a culture of impunity is embedded in the Israeli justice system, which is a culture that calls for and applies the violation of human rights and international law leaving its victims without any chance of justice despite of many attempts by the Palestinian civil society organizations to achieve the mentioned justice for those victims.

Civil society organizations in Palestine including Addameer Association, Al-Haq, Almezan Center, and many others working to uphold the rights of the victims of torture in Palestine assure that the torture against Palestinians is not limited on the torture in interrogations, however, it expands to include the living conditions Palestinian prisoners are forced to cope with while in Israeli prisons. They illustrates that Palestinian victims of torture in the Israeli prisons are provided with poor quality meals, prisoned in places with bad lighting and poor ventilation, are not given adequate medical care and services, are subject to solitary confinement isolating them from the outside world, along with being deprived from a fair trial. Also, violating the Palestinian prisoners’ basic rights called for in the international agreements, especially the Fourth Geneva Convention, Israel continue violating their rights by practicing oppression, humiliation, various forms of physical and psychological torture, medical negligence, naked searches, deprivation of visits, administrative detention without trial, and other inhumane practices on the Palestinian prisoners. Such measures and others are contrary to the international humanitarian law and human rights treaties and covenants, which ultimately aim to undermine the will of the prisoners, break their morale, and poses a psychosocial risk to the prisoners, their families and the entire Palestinian community.

It’s worth mentioning that the torture of Israel is not only limited on the Palestinian prisoners and detainees, however, Israel has expanded its practices which intends to humiliate and threaten the security and life of the Palestinian civilians in the occupied Palestinian lands. Until this day, Israel have imposed restrictions on the movement pf patients who are in an extreme need to move between Gaza Strip and the West Bank or the West Bank and the Occupied Palestine to receive medical treatment in hospitals in the West Bank or Occupied Palestine. The Intelligence Security Authority stops and interrogate Palestinian patients and sometimes force them sometimes in order to obtain information about relatives and friends in Gaza or the West Bank. According to Al Mezan Center for Human Rights in Palestine, there are many cases of patients who ended up being arrested in the Israeli prisons after being given permits to cross or go for an interview at Erez crossing checkpoint. These practices expand to include Israeli practices in demolishing houses of Palestinians as a punitive act, accuse innocent civilians of attempts to terroristic acts against the Israeli soldiers, and many other humiliate acts.

The International Platform of NGOs Working for Palestine, iPalestine, expresses its solidarity with victims of Israeli torture. It reiterates its condemnation of Israeli ongoing torture practices in violation of International human rights standards calling international community to support torture victims. The international community should immediately intervene to protect Palestinians by putting an end to the torture acts practiced by Israel on the Palestinians, to apply pressure on Israel to commit to its obligation within the international law, and most importantly to allow the CAT to apply its authority in holding objective and impartial investigations in terms of the complaints submitted by torture victims.

Furthermore, iPalestine invite the Palestinian Authority and Palestinian civil society represented by human rights organizations, civil organizations, prisoners' support organizations and supervisory bodies such as the Palestinian Legislative Council to play a role in promoting the protection of the rights of detainees and freed prisoners by providing all forms of economic, social and psychological support and rehabilitation for them and their families and to strengthen the ability of Palestinian society to withstand and thwart the occupation's plans to break the Palestinian will.