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Israeli Security Agency Torturing Palestinian Prisoners, Report Says.

Israeli Security Agency Torturing Palestinian Prisoners, Report Says.A joint report from The Center for the Defence of the Individual and B'Tselem, an Israeli human rights group, allege grave violations of international law occurred at the hands of the Israeli government. According to the report, Shin Bet, the Israeli security agency, degrades Palestinian prisoners and prevents access to lawyers or International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC). In the case of "ticking bombs", Shin Bet has employed "special" interrogation methods, including the "shabah position" in which detainees are shackled in stress positions while hooded and listening to loud music. According to the Public Committee Against Torture in Israel, there has been a sharp increase in "torture, ill treatment, humiliation and incarceration in inhuman conditions of Palestinian detainees by the Shin Bet" since 2003.

As the result of a lawsuit filed in 1999 on behalf of Palestinian prisoners, Shin Bet must operate according to detailed methods. These rules allow the use of "moderate physical and psychological pressure" in order to extract information from detainees, including sensory deprivation. The 1999 ruling by the Israeli Supreme Court did, however, ban certain interrogation methods, such as the "shabah position." The Court did acknowledge that interrogations were likely to be unpleasant considering their intent was to break the will of the suspect. According to Shin Bet officials, interrogation methods are compliant with the 1999 ruling and that the B'Tselem report is erroneous.

According to the United Nation Convention Against Torture, torture may be defined as "any act by which severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, is intentionally inflicted on a person for such purposes as obtaining from him or a third person information or a confession." Israel is a signatory to this Convention, though nearly half of Israel Knesset members support harsh interrogation methods.

A report in 2004 suggests that Shin Bet methods were exemplified in the Abu Ghraib scandal, where US military personnel documented several cases of torture committed against Iraqi prisoners.

In related news, a New York federal judge threw out a war crimes charges against a former Shin Bet director for ordering the aerial bombing of civilian targets in an effort to assasinate HAMAS leader, Saleh Shahada.

Opinio Juris is highlighting the case.

San Fransisco Chronicle/Reuters/Guardian UK/Boston Globe
Photo: BBC



Daniel Graeber

Daniel Graeber is a writer for United Press International covering Iraq, Afghanistan and the broader Levant. He has published works on international and constitutional law pertaining to US terrorism cases and on child soldiers. His first major work, entitled The United States and Israel: The Implications of Alignment, is featured in the text, Strategic Interests in the Middle East: Opposition or Support for US Foreign Policy. He holds a MA in Diplomacy and International Conflict Management from Norwich University, where his focus was international relations theory, international law, and the role of non-state actors.

Areas of Focus:International law; Middle East; Government and Politics; non-state actors