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Over the past few months, Israeli media have given extensive coverage to the abuse and humiliation Israel Security Agency (ISA) interrogators inflicted on the Jewish detainees in the Duma torching case. Interrogation methods involving pain and suffering are unacceptable, unlawful, and there can be no justification for employing them.
Engaged, critical public debate is certainly merited when they come to light. And yet, the abuse, humiliation and torture the ISA inflicts on Palestinian detainees on a daily basis is met by both the media and the public with disregard and indifference. A new report by B’Tselem and HaMoked, Backed by the System, focuses on ISA interrogations. Affidavits collected from 116 Palestinian detainees interrogated at the ISA facility in the Shikma Prison indicate that cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment, sometimes amounting to torture, is the rule in ISA interrogations. They include such methods as extended sleep deprivation; incarceration in a small, foul-smelling cell, usually in solitary confinement; painful binding; threats and shouting; insufficient and sub-standard food; and denial of showers for weeks. In addition, the report found that interrogation authorities are also indirectly complicit in torture, by using information they know the Palestinian Authority obtained through torture.
In the report we stress that these interrogation methods are not unique to the Shikma facility and are not just the initiative of a particular interrogator or prison guard. Rather, they are part of a violent interrogation regime deliberately designed by state authorities to break the spirit and body of the interrogee. This system goes beyond the ISA, and is backed by many other authorities, including the Israel Prison Service, the IDF, the State Attorney’s Office and the High Court of Justice.