Since the occupation of the Palestinian
territories during the Six Day War in 1967, Israel has arrested and imprisoned Palestinians for resisting the occupation by political or militant
means. Even after the Oslo Accords in 1994 Israel is still arresting
Palestinians in so-called Palestinian territory and transferring them to
prisons and detention centres inside Israel. The transfer in itself is a
war crime under the Fourth Geneva Convention. Furthermore, the
Israeli Security Agency (ISA) (formerly known as
General Security Service (GSS)) - the body
responsible for the interrogation of Palestinians - has for many
years systematically used torture methods against thousands of Palestinian
detainees in order to obtain information or confessions.
degrading treatment include sleep deprivation, denial of medical care, loud
music, beatings, shaking, threats of physical or sexual abuse and insults,
excessive binding of hands and feet so as to cause inflammation, prolonged
exposure to bright light causing burns to the face, and severe pressure on the
neck. One of the most famous methods used is the “Shabah position”. According to
this method the hands of the detainee are tied behind the back of a chair, and
his/her feet to the chair-legs. This position weakens the support of the
detainee’s back, and thus his ability to resist violent shaking.
Palestinian men arrested in the end of August
2002 in the West Bank
Photo from Internet
Even though strictly forbidden
under international humanitarian law,
torture in 1987.
In 1999 the decision was
superficially outlawed by a ruling of the Supreme Court of Justice. However,
this ruling did not constitute a definite legal prohibition on the use of
physical force, particularly in “special circumstances”. The court ruled on the
authority of the GSS to use those methods under Israeli law, rather than on the
legality of the methods themselves.
Israel continues to use the “self-defence” argument in an attempt
to legitimise its illegal practices, including torture and cruel, inhuman or
degrading treatment or punishment. Usually, Israeli authorities justify use of
physical and mental torture on the basis that these
practices help prevent
They do so although they are party
to the United Nations Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or
Degrading Treatment or Punishment and to the International Covenant on Civil and
Political Rights, which
prohibit the use of torture and other cruel, inhuman and degrading treatments
any and all circumstances".
November 2001, the UN Committee Against Torture has emphasized that
what Israel defines as "moderate physical
torture, and the Committee
expressed concern that Israel has failed to
pass legislation prohibiting
torture - both actions are violations of the UN Convention Against Torture and Other
Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment. Furthermore, torture is
strictly forbidden under the Fourth Geneva Convention, and is described as a
grave breach under Article 147, thus constituting a war crime.
collected and put together information on arrests, imprisonment and torture of
Palestinians in Israeli jails in order to give the interested reader an adequate
picture of the continuing human rights abuses committed against Palestinians by
the Israeli authorities.
Relevant Articles in International Humanitarian
Prisoners and Torture
and Feature Stories in the International Media