Court Okays Continued Use of Secret Interrogation Facility, With Conditions

High Court justices have allowed the state to continue using the secret interrogation center known as Facility 1391, Haaretz has learned. The existence of the facility, which is located on a secret army intelligence base, was first exposed in Haaretz Magazine in 2003.

The facility was most widely used to hold Lebanese suspects. It was also used to hold Palestinian detainees during the time of the IDF's Operation Defensive Shield in 2002.

Obeid, left, and Dirani
Archive: Moti Kimche

In recent years, Facility 1391 has primarily been used to interrogate detainees who are (according to materials relayed to the High Court ) neither Israeli citizens nor Palestinians. These would appear to be detainees from Arab states.

The information relayed to the High Court indicates that between 1993 and 2004, 271 detainees were held at the facility, most of them for relatively short periods. Three of the detainees - including Sheikh Abdul Karim Obeid and Mustafa Dirani, who were kidnapped in Lebanon - were held in the facility for a prolonged period of time.

Facility 1391 was reportedly the site of controversial interrogations as well. Dirani claimed that he was tortured and even raped by an interrogator who called himself "George."

Complaints were lodged by Hamoked - Center for the Defense of the Individual, which demanded that the state order the facility's closure. Former MK Zahava Gal-On (Meretz ) also demanded that the defense minister allow her, as a Knesset member, to visit the facility.

Yesterday, after years without any action taken on the High Court petitions, Supreme Court President Dorit Beinisch, along with Justices Esther Hayut and Miriam Naor, released an opinion rejecting the complaints.

In a secret arrangement, however, the defense establishment agreed to a series of procedures regarding the detention and interrogation of suspects at the facility.

Among other things, the state agreed to restrict the length of time spent by detainees at the facility; to divulge certain details about the physical location of the facility to detainees; to make use of the facility only with the authorization of senior officials; to relay a statement to anyone who inquires about a detainee confirming the person is being held at Facility 1391; to provide detainees' family members and attorneys with an address to which they can send inquiries.

Furthermore, the defense establishment agreed not to use the facility for residents of Israel or the territories.

The state's agreement with the High Court also indicates that the facility has not been in use since 2006.

Pointing out that the state acknowledges the existence of this facility, and that it is subject to monitoring, the justices rejected any comparisons drawn between Facility 1391 and other secret interrogation centers around the world.