Palestinian detainees held in the ISA Interrogation Facility in Petah Tikva, were subjected to ill treatment, degrading detention conditions, and prohibited interrogation methods: as indicated by six civil claims recently filed by HaMoked
HaMoked: Center for the Defense of the Individual filed six civil claims against the state, the military, the Israel Security Agency (ISA), and the Israel Prison Service (IPS), for the unacceptable treatment of detainees during arrest and throughout detention in the ISA interrogation facility in Petah Tikva.* The claims document acts of abuse, degrading treatment and even torture, and point to the relevant authorities' systematic failure to safeguard detainees' rights to dignity and bodily integrity, as well as their absolute right not to be subjected to abuse or torture. The authorities act in contravention of absolute prohibitions under both Israeli and International law.
Violence during arrest
In March 2009, a resident of the `Askar refugee camp in the Nablus area was arrested at his home, and while he was kneeling as ordered, was beaten by the soldiers. As a result of the beatings, he suffered acute lower back pain which continued for a long time. As he was brought to a military detention facility, he was examined by a physician, who, flouting his obligation, did not perform the examination as required, and failed to note the bruises on his body. The detainee did not report the bruises to the physician, for fear of retaliation. A partial copy of his medical record, obtained by HaMoked, has no medical documentation from his time in the military facility. Another plaintiff
, was arrested in Nablus and severely beaten en route to a military detention facility, this while he was lying on his back on the bottom of the vehicle, his hands cuffed. His request to loosen the tight handcuffs a little was answered by one of the soldiers tightening them up some more. Upon arrival at the facility, he was examined by a physician who, noticing his swollen hands, removed the handcuffs and reprimanded the soldiers involved.
Degradation and abuse of detainees
Another claim describes the contemptible treatment by soldiers of a youth who was arrested near Nablus in December 2008. The youth was taken to a military detention facility, handcuffed and was then left outside for the entire night. As he was lying on the ground, a soldier approached him and kicked him in the head. Other soldiers joined to ridicule him, throwing seed shells at him and continued their amusements by humiliating him further. The next morning, he was taken to an examination by a physician, who asked him whether he had been beaten by soldiers. The detainee gave an affirmative reply, and in response, was taken outside and beaten by the soldier who escorted him to the physician. Another claim
, concerning another `Askar refugee camp resident, details how he was arrested at his home while still asleep, and led, barefoot, in his sleep attire, to a muddy field. A few minutes later, the person in charge of the arrest – probably an ISA operative – coerced the plaintiff to stand in a water puddle, and asked him how he chose to die. The plaintiff was shaking with fear, preparing to die, when the ISA operative broke out laughing, saying he came only to arrest him. The soldiers stood gleefully by.
Prohibited interrogation methods and medical negligence
Intensive interrogation, extorting confessions, isolation conditions, sensory and sleep deprivation are some of the prohibited interrogation methods practiced in the Petah-Tikva interrogation facility. These methods induce extreme stress and despair in the interrogees, leading at times to their mental breakdown. In his testimony, one plaintiff described how during interrogation he broke down and became violent in the interrogation room. Another plaintiff attempted suicide while he was in solitary confinement. After receiving medical treatment he was put back in solitary confinement, and the warders shackled his hands and feet to the bed and him in an excruciatingly painful position for the entire night.
Some of the failings documented in the claims, amount to medical misconduct. One of the most disturbing cases appears in the claim of a Nablus resident, aged 19 at the time of arrest, who turned himself in to the military in March 2009. Upon his arrival at the military detention facility, he said he suffered from a neurological disorder for which he was treated with medication, and he was examined by a physician. In the evening he was taken to the Petah Tikva interrogation facility, there his medication was taken from him, and he was kept in isolation without receiving his required medications. Next day, while still in the isolation cell, he suffered a psychotic episode, became violent, went into a rage and screamed. He was released from isolation, and handed cigarettes, cakes and coffee by his interrogator, who also gave him his medication. Recklessly entrusting medical care to the interrogators' whims constitutes medical misconduct and raises concerns that the medical condition of the interrogee was exploited to make him dependent on the interrogator.
This claims document acts of wrongdoing in close succession, occurring while the plaintiffs were held in the custody of the various security agencies, and demonstrate an unacceptable state of affaires. Using each method singly, and more so in accumulation, amounts to cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment, and at times to torture. The six plaintiffs request the court to award them compensation for the damages they incurred as a result of the grievous actions of soldiers, ISA operatives, interrogators, and IPS staff.
* a joint report
by HaMoked and B'Tselem, recently published, exposes the interrogation methods and detention conditions routinely practiced in the ISA detention facility in Petah Tikva. The above plaintiffs were among those who supplied information to the report researchers.