Seven human rights organizations appealed to the Military Advocate General, Avichai Mandelblit, and to Attorney General Meni Mazuz, protesting the appalling conditions in which Palestinians arrested during the fighting in Gaza were held, and the humiliating and inhuman treatment to which they were subjected from the time of their arrest until their transfer to the custody of the Israeli Prison Service. The complaint was filed on behalf of HaMoked: Center for Defence of the Individual, the Public Committee Against Torture in Israel (PCATI), the Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI), Physicians for Human Rights – Israel, B'Tselem, Yesh Din and Adalah.
The complaint is based on the evidence gathered at HaMoked and the Public Committee Against Torture, which gives a shocking portrayal of the harsh, inhuman and degrading conditions in which Palestinian prisoners were held during the initial days of their incarceration. The reports indicate that many prisoners - minors as well as adults - were held for many hours – sometimes days - in pits dug in the ground, 2 to 3 meters deep, exposed to the bitter cold and harsh weather, handcuffed and blindfolded. The pits lacked basic sanitary facilities which would have allowed the prisoners appropriate toilet facilities, while food and shelter, when provided, were limited, and the detainees went hungry. More seriously, some of the detainees were held near tanks and in combat areas, in gross violation of international humanitarian law, which prohibits holding prisoners and captives in areas exposed to danger.
Inappropriate treatment of the detainees continued even after they were removed from the pits in which they had been held. For example: some were held overnight in a truck, handcuffed, with one blanket for every two people; some were held for a long time in the rain; there was a lack of blankets, food and water; and there were also incidents involving extreme violence and humiliation by soldiers and interrogators, regarding which complaints will be submitted separately. Detainees continued to be held in humiliating conditions even after being transferred to an army prison facility (located, apparently, at the Sdeh Tayman base) where, for example, they were not provided with toilets or showers.
The organizations demand an independent, comprehensive investigation to insure that such treatment of detainees is not repeated. The organizations also request that a number of additional steps be taken to preserve these detainees’ rights and insure appropriate conditions of incarceration wherever the army may hold prisoners in the future.