Report: Soldiers Routinely Abuse Palestinian Prisoners

Anti-torture NGO accuses law enforcement agencies of ignoring cases of abuse by IDF troops.

A report by the Public Committee Against Torture in Israel (PCATI) to be released today claims that Israel Defense Force (IDF) soldiers routinely abuse Palestinian detainees and the army and law enforcement ignores the abuse.

The report contains 90 testimonies by Palestinians who were allegedly abused by IDF soldiers after being arrested during and after sweeps for wanted men between June 2006 and October 2007.

Many reports state that the alleged abuse occurred while the Palestinians were bound and did not constitute a risk to the soldiers.

The report, compiled by attorneys Noam Hofstetter, Eliahu Abram and Dr. Yuval Ginbar, states that the alleged abuse occurs in vehicles transporting the detainees to various detention centers and at the centers.

"These acts of abuse do not exclude minor detainees, who are under special protection by Israeli and international law. The soldiers do not treat the minors with care and often, as various reports show, they take advantage of their weakness."

In addition to accusing the IDF of ignoring the alleged abuses, the report says law enforcement infrequently investigates or indicts those accused of abuse.

The report also accuses the Defense Ministry, the State Comptroller's Office and the Knesset of ignoring the situation almost completely.

PCATI also notes that the IDF has no regulations governing the treatment of detainees after their arrest, and until they are delivered to the authorities for detention and questioning.

The report says that the IDF has extensively used dogs in ongoing operations in the West Bank since 2000, and that the use of dogs is intended to frighten and humiliate prisoners because a dog is considered an unclean animal in Islam.

Abdallah Nabulsi of Nablus said that he was arrested in May 2007, bound, blindfolded and placed lying down in the back of a truck.

"They put a large dog on my back. I screamed to get the dog away from me but the soldiers laughed and mocked me," he said.

"The importance of proper treatment of prisoners and detainees is brought into focus this week in particular, with the release of Israeli prisoners on the agenda," PCATI head Dr. Ishai Menuhin said over the weekend.

"We are witnesses to an inhuman attitude on the part of soldiers to prisoners, isolating them from the outside world, acting cruelly to them and cutting them off from their families who are helpless as to their condition. The phenomenon of abuse of Palestinian detainees as the report presents it does not reach this level of severity, although it is serious enough to require us to act with all our strength in order to eradicate it."