Tuesday, January 06, 2015

Appalling Israeli Treatment of Palestinian Prisoners

Appalling Israeli Treatment of Palestinian Prisoners

by Stephen Lendman

Thousands of Palestinians languish in Israel's gulag. There for political reasons. Brutally treated. Denied fundamental rights.

The Addameer Prisoner Support and Human Rights Association estimates over 800,000 Palestinians incarcerated since June 1967.

Around 20% of Palestine's population. About 40% of its male population. Including 10,000 women. About 8,000 children since 2000.

Held in about 17 prisons, interrogation and detention centers. All but one located inside Israel. Brazenly violating Fourth Geneva's Article 76.

Prohibiting occupying powers from detaining people they control in their own countries. Military orders govern virtually all aspects of Palestinian life.

Carrying or displaying a Palestinian flag is illegal. So is participating in peaceful demonstrations. 

Or belonging to organizations Israel opposes. Including human rights groups demanding Palestinian rights.

Palestinian detainees can be interrogated for weeks or months. Denied lawyer visits for up to 60 days.

Subjected to extreme forms of cruel, inhumane or degrading treatment. Torture by any standard. Physical and psychological.

Continuing as long as it takes to extract confessions. Most often for crimes never committed. Israel outrageously defends its practices as a legitimate way to combat terrorism.

Its state terrorism matters most. International law prohibits torture at all times, under all circumstances, with no allowed exceptions.

Since 1967, Addameer estimates around six dozen Palestinians tortured to death by Israel.

Palestinians can be arrested for any reason or none at all. Guilt by accusation suffices. Including for young children. Some too young to understand what's happening. Israel treats them like adults.

In late October, Adalah, Al Mezan and Physicians for Human Rights-Israel (called Adalah et al below) reported on "Israel’s lack of accountability for violations for international law and the use of torture and/or cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment against Palestinian prisoners and detainees held in Israeli prisons and Palestinians living in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT)."

Below are highlights of what it reported. Israel has no laws prohibiting torture. As defined by the UN Torture Convention.

The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR). Two human rights treaties to which Israel is a signatory.

According to Adalah et al, Israel has "no measures to ensure that cases of torture, ill-treatment and disproportionate use of force are independently investigated and that those responsible are prosecuted and punished."

In other words, accountability is entirely absent. Israel does what it pleases. Regardless of international law. Its own at times. Its High Court decisions it rejects.

In June 2014, an EU spokesperson on Palestinian detainees released the following statement during a mass prisoner hunger strike, saying:

"We are following with great concern reports about the deteriorating health condition of Palestinian administrative detainees who have been on a hunger strike for several weeks." 

"The EU has repeatedly expressed its concern about the extensive use by Israel of administrative detention." 

"The EU calls for the full respect of international human rights obligations toward all Palestinian detainees and prisoners."

EU actions belie its rhetoric. Doing nothing to stop brazen Israeli international law violations. Including torture and ill-treatment.

In late July during Operation Protective Edge, the UN Human Rights Council voted 17 to 1 to establish an independent, international commission of inquiry to investigate Israeli war crimes.

Its other human rights abuses since June 13. On October 20, the UN Human Rights Committee reviewed Israel's record.

Major Israeli human rights violations were cited. Including widespread use of torture and ill-treatment.

Hundreds of uncharged administratively detained Palestinians. Israel's "necessity" defense as justification for practices amounting to torture and other forms of abuse.

"(T)he near absence of investigations into complaints of suspected crimes committed by Israeli forces and others," said Adalah et al.

The use of administrative detention "as a mechanism of deterrence and punishment against Palestinian society..."

In "blatant violation of international law." Imposed to instill fear. Disrupt Palestinian social and political life. Create impossible living conditions. 

No one knowing who'll be arrested next. Why. Horrific treatment awaiting them. As of last September, around 6,200 Palestinians languished in Israel's gulag. One of the world's harshest.

Around 500 are administrative detainees. Held uncharged. Including 19 Palestinian legislators. For belonging to political parties Israel opposes.

Eighteen women are imprisoned. 201 children. Two dozen under age 16. Nearly 500 Palestinians are serving life sentences.

Almost as many were sentenced to over 20 years. In May 2012, Israel agreed to limit administration detentions to cases involving "exceptional circumstances."

Its pledges aren't worth the paper they're written on. In the past 18 months, administrative detentions more than tripled.

Around 125 Palestinian prisoners hunger struck for justice from April 25 to June 25, 2014. Israel responded harshly.

Including obstructing lawyer visits. Banning family contacts. Shackling sick hunger strikers to hospital beds. Hands and feet, 24 hours a day. Further deteriorating their health.

Basic human needs were denied. Including "going to the bathroom. (E)specially at hight when staff claimed there were not enough wardens to accompany them to the toilet," said Adalah et al.

In response to an Adalah inquiry, Israel's Health Ministry claimed no knowledge of what's ongoing.

In mid-June, Adalah and Addameer petitioned Israel's Nazareth District Court. Arguing against these practices. Saying they constitute "torture and/or cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment."

No judgment so far was rendered. During the April/June hunger strike, Adalah petitioned Israel's prison service (IPS) demanding hunger strikers be allowed family visits.

In July, it petitioned Israel's Lod District Court. "(D)emanding the cancellation of IPS instructions prohibiting family visits for prisoners participating in hunger strikes…"

Calling Israel's action "illegal." Demanding it be revoked.  Longstanding Israeli practice. Continuing today. Against any Palestinian prisoner. For any reason or none at all.

Punitive. Lawless. Barbaric. Along with numerous other forms of ill-treatment. Including force-feeding legislation.

The Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI) saying it "violates  (the) rights to bodily autonomy and dignity…(It) contravenes the fundamental rules of medical ethics.

Adalah et al calls Israel's Force-Feeding law "a legislative foundation for torture…" Violating fundamental human rights. Medical ethics.

Ill use of medicine and physicians involved. Violating Israel's Patient's Rights Law. Its international obligations. Imposed for punitive reasons.

During Operation Protective Edge, Israel arrested at least 150 Gazans. Al Mezan visited 22 detainees later released.

Reported testimonies detailing physical and psychological torture and other forms of ill-treatment.

Including beatings. Painful shackling. Stress positions. Sleep deprivation. Psychological abuse. Threats against family members.

Israel withheld information about the number of Gaza detainees. Their identifies. Whereabouts. Living conditions. Medical care given or withheld.

Some detainees were released during active combat with no coordination with ICRC representatives. "(W)ithout ensuring their safe return to Gaza," said Adalah et al.

Endangering their lives and health. During ongoing conflict, many Palestinian civilians were reported missing. Families didn't know if their loved ones were arrested, wounded or killed.

Al Mezan documented at least 19 Gazans used as human shields. At least one under age 18. Forced to stand in front of windows inside Palestinian homes.

As targets protecting Israeli soldiers. One Palestinian was handcuffed. Blindfolded. Forced to sit atop an Israeli tank attacking various targets.

Other victims were forced to walk in front of soldiers. Enter and search homes. Look for tunnels. In brazen violation of international law. Prohibiting the use of civilians as human shields.

Al Mezan documented Israeli executions of Palestinian detainees. Including six men in one house. Used as an Israeli outpost.

Their bodies later found riddled with bullet holes. Murdered in cold blood. Israel consistently violates international laws, norms and standards it's obligated to obey.

Internal investigations when conducted are whitewashed. Including cases involving torture. Other forms of ill-treatment.

Disproportionate use of force. Murder. War crimes of virtually every description. Gaza's blockade since 2007.

"Creating an environment in which collective punishment and (other) forms of ill-treatment are an omnipresent part of the daily lives of" 1.8 million people, said Adalah et al.

Exacerbated by frequent attacks at Israel's discretion. Its security forces operate unaccountably.

Enjoy immunity. No matter how horrendous their crimes. No mechanism exists to act responsibly against them. No legislative, judicial, political or other procedures.

Nothing prevents Israel from committing the highest of high crimes. Repeatedly. 

Nothing protects fundamental Palestinian rights. Victims of Israeli viciousness.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net. 

His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."


Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com. 

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