Text size

Palestinian security prisoners have alleged that guards and Prisons Service officers at Nafha Prison deliberately humiliated them during the hunger strike. The inmates, some of whom have been in prison for over a decade, said they had never before experienced such humiliating treatment from prison guards and officers.

In an effort to break the hunger strike, the Prison Service transfered inmates between facilities. Some 60 inmates were moved for a week from Ashkelon to Nafha prison on August 23, the sixth day of the strike.

Written and oral testimony obtained by Haaretz alleges that guards and officers, acting under the guise of conducting searches, humiliated inmates by forcing each to undress (separately), then to perform squats and walk around in front of the guards. According to the inmates, the guards and officers taunted them and even hit several inmates.

On their first night at Nafha the prisoners were not given blankets, a change of clothes and toiletries. During the rest of the week, their personal toiletries and towels were not returned.

The inmates identified two of the officers as "Dudu" and "Samer T." They also identified two intelligence interrogators: Amir S. and Eli C.

The testimony of A., an inmate in his twenties, states: "First they had us pass through the electromagnetic gate, which detects metals on the body. They had me go through several times, even though nothing was found... Afterward they took me to a room that resembled a cage, where 12 policemen demanded I undress... When I was completely naked, they came near and demanded that I spread my legs farther apart. I refused, because there was no security or other reason for it. They forced me violently... When I moved my leg back in, they handcuffed me from behind and beat me badly... on my hips, my face, and kicked my hands and legs and all over my body. In the end they released the handcuffs and said: `You're in solitary in Nafha, not Ashkelon.'"

The testimony of P., in his thirties, reads: "We arrived at the prison around noon. They uncuffed us and shoved us violently into the waiting room, where we remained about four hours... There was no toilet... They forced me to undress...until I was totally naked. Then the search began with the metal detector...and then came the manual search.

"They demanded that I sit down and stand up several times, then asked me to lift my legs like a dog urinating by a tree or fence so they could run the detector over the most sensitive and inner areas, then asked me to tilt my body forward and one policeman began examining the anus with a flashlight...

"During the search there were five officers around me... Throughout, they laughed and taunted my appearance... We didn't sleep at night, despite being tired, because the guards banged on the doors with their feet and with clubs..."

AE., in his forties, recounted: "Three policemen stood at the entrance with clubs, and another five were inside the room swinging the clubs as if ready to hit. They demanded that I undress completely... While I was undressing, they shoved me and swung the clubs toward me. They brought their faces close up and shouted and cursed me, even though I said nothing and did as I was told...

"The one called Dudu demanded that I do squats, then told me to walk around in circles. They laughed and taunted me. Then they told me to stand facing them and spread my legs as far as possible... They ran the detector over my skin..."

H., in his late-twenties, said he had to perform squats while naked, was examined from behind with the metal detector and then manually, and that the officers and guards exchanged wisecracks. "They also kicked me with their feet, took out fruit and began to eat it in front of me."

Prison Service spokesman Ofer Lefler said in response that "hundreds of dispatches were found in the past year on inmates' bodies...including cellphones smuggled inside their bodies. All of the dispatches included operational directives and guidance for hostile terrorist activity...

Throughout this past year we held talks with the terrorists, the security prisoners, and explained that the day we find nothing, the strip searches will also cease... Nobody enjoys looking at a man's loins, but it's done discreetly to preserve the inmate's dignity."