Tuesday, April 19, 2005
posted by: salam max at 9:55 AM

I hadn't realised that 17th April was a day set aside to remember Palestinian political prisoners until after I wrote a short, angry piece about my friend who was arrested that weekend. Then Helen gave us some more details another Israeli mini-invasion of Bethlehem (see post below), and today I see this press release from the Mandela institute:
On April 17th every year, Palestinians stand unified in solidarity with Arab and Palestinian political prisoners held in Israeli custody. Thousands of Palestinians have been imprisoned as a result of their struggle for their inalienable and legitimate right to self determination and the right to an independent state with Jerusalem as its capital. [...]

The Mandela Institute vows to stand beside the Arab and Palestinian prisoners held by Israeli occupation authorities. The Institute pledges to continue the fight for the just cause of political detainees and prisoners to ensure them the minimum standards that guarantee them a dignified life pending their release
Those others who were arrested on Friday night are still being held. For sure they're being "interrogated" and for all I know they're using "reasonable physical force" (i.e. tortured). The Adameer website, another body devoted to the release of political prisoners, say this about the use of torture in Israeli prisons:

The Use of Torture during Interrogation and Detention
The ruling of the Israeli High Court of Justice on 6 September 1999, following a petition by human rights organizations to ban the use of torture during interrogation, does not forbid the use of torture but rather allows that interrogation methods deemed as torture may be used in the "necessity of defense" and in situations where a detainee is deemed a 'ticking bomb'. At most, it offers the victim of torture a small opportunity to submit a complaint if an abuse can be clearly proved. As Israel can legally hold detainees incommunicado for several weeks, GSS interrogators are able to use methods of torture without impunity. Legalized torture includes, for example, sleep deprivation and shackling for extended periods of time, amongst others.

A Palestinian detainee can be interrogated for a total period of 180 days, during which he/she can also be denied lawyer visits for a period of 60 days. After the 180 day period, charges must be brought against the detainee, or he/she must be released. During the interrogation period, a detainee is often subjected to some form of torture ranging in extremity, whether physical or psychological. In some instances, detainees have died while in custody as a result of torture. Confessions extracted through torture are admissible in court.

In practice, Palestinian detainees are submitted to the following forms of torture:

  • Routine: sleep deprivation, shabeh (position abuse), in which detainees are shackled to a chair in painful positions, squeezing of handcuffs, beatings, slaps, kicks, physical and psychological threats and humiliation;

  • Special methods: the body tied in a contorted and extremely painful position, pressure on different parts of the body, strongly shaking the detainee after being shackled for a long period of time, head covered with a filthy, soiled sack, strangulation and other means of suffocation, pulling of hair, multiple humiliations;

  • Inside the cells: sleep deprivation, handcuffed to the bed, exposure to extreme temperatures, prolonged and continuous exposure to artificial light, solitary confinement, tear gas inside the cells, inhuman detention conditions.

GSS agents can act with full impunity. If a complaint is lodged, investigations are confidential and led by a GSS agent under the authority of the State Attorney. No agent has been charged since the responsibility for investigations was transferred to the Ministry of Justice in 1994.

Other bodies like the IDF, Border Police, Police and others also use torture and inflict ill treatment upon detainees during arrest, interrogation or detention.

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