The justices also mentioned that international conventions, to which Israel is party, prohibit the use of torture and cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment. These prohibitions are absolute. There are no exceptions, and they are not to be balanced against any potential benefit. However, the High Court refrained from directly calling the GSS’s interrogation methods by their name – torture.
For reports of the Public Committee Against Torture in Israel: Flawed Defence: Torture and Ill-treatment in GSS Interrogations following the Supreme Court Ruling, 6 September 1999 – 6 September 2001 and Back to a Routine of Torture: September 2001 – April 2003, click here.The matter involved in Civ. Comp. 1278/05
As soon as he arrived at the interrogation wing, GSS interrogators began to torture, threaten, and humiliate the plaintiff. He was kept in the “shabach” position for days and nights at a time. When he tried to sleep while in this position, an interrogator kicked him or threw cold water on him. At the same time, the plaintiff was exposed to very loud noises for hours, and was at times exposed to extreme cold for extended periods of time.
He was forced to take the “frog position” (“qambaz”). The interrogators also threatened and humiliated him, bound him in painful positions, shook, kicked, and beat him, kept him in prolonged solitary confinement, and held him in harsh conditions without proper clothing for the winter season.The court actions taken by HaMoked
On 27 January 1998, when the use of physical torture against the plaintiff, including sleep deprivation, continued, HaMoked filed another petition to cease using these methods. As soon as the petition was filed, counsel for the state informed the court that it would allow the plaintiff a reasonable number of hours of sleep daily. Following this statement, HaMoked agreed to a dismissal of the petition, and on 6 February 1998, the petition was dismissed.
A short while later, the plaintiff’s family learned that he had been hospitalized in the psychiatric ward of Ayalon Prison, in Ramle. Plaintiff’s attorney, who had visited him previously, arrived at the prison on 5 March, but the plaintiff could not recognize him. A study of the medical records indicates that, on 6 February, he had been taken to Kishon Prison, in Haifa, and was later hospitalized at Rambam Hospital, in Haifa, following an attack on a Red Cross official and suspected psychosis that led to the attack. On 27 February, he was hospitalized in the psychiatric ward of Ayalon Prison pursuant to an observation order, issued by the Military Court. He was released from prison on 23 April, with a finding that he was not mentally fit to be prosecuted.
It should be noted that the plaintiff was in good physical and mental health when he was arrested. Upon release, he was in terrible condition. He was disoriented, suffered anxiety, was unable to sleep properly, and had lost his appetite. He began treatment with Dr. Mahmud Sahwil, a psychiatrist at the Center for the Treatment of Torture Victims, in Ramallah. Although his condition improved greatly following his discharge from detention, he continues to be treated at the center.
On 9 January 2005, HaMoked filed a compensation claim against the state for the plaintiff’s damages resulting from the torture he underwent – for his pain and suffering and mental injury, loss of wages, and medical expenses. The claim states that the interrogators’ acts during his detention and interrogation constitute assault, and that the state is responsible for these acts in light of the instructions given to GSS interrogators, which permitted, in advance or retroactively, the use of physical means during interrogation. The claim also contends that the state, directly or through its agents, was negligent, and breached statutory duties as set forth in Israeli and international law. HaMoked attached to the statement of claim a psychiatric opinion stating that the plaintiff is suffering from Post-traumatic Syndrome, which limits his ability to function and to work, and set his disability at 30 percent.