Mon 27-May-2024

Euro-Med calls for sending int’l delegation to Israeli jails and detention sites

Saturday 23-December-2023

The Euro-Med Human Rights Monitor launched on Saturday an urgent appeal for the immediate formation of an international delegation to visit Israeli prisons and army detention camps, where more than 8,000 Palestinian detainees are currently held, as evidence mounts of widespread violations, mass arrests, forced disappearances, torture, ill-treatment and even executions.

In a formal letter addressed to the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, the UN Committee on Enforced Disappearances, and the International Committee of the Red Cross, the Euro-Med Monitor called for taking prompt action to disclose the fate and incarceration conditions of Palestinian detainees, particularly those from the Gaza Strip.

According to Euro-Med’s estimates, Israel is currently detaining more than 8,000 Palestinians, including about 1,200-1,400 from the Gaza Strip who were detained following the October 7 events.

The letter highlighted that shortly after their arrest, detainees have been subjected to systematic abuse such as being stripped of their clothes, handcuffed, blindfolded, severely beaten, harassed, sexually assaulted, deprived of sleep, food, water, and basic hygiene, and humiliated in front of cameras.

During the last 11 weeks, the Israeli authorities frequently used the administrative detention policy against Palestinians, extended the use of emergency measures that permit inhumane and degrading treatment of detainees, and failed to adequately investigate reports of torture and death incidents in jails and detention places.

Euro-Med informed the international bodies that the number of Palestinians being held in administrative detention — a tactic Israel employs to arrest people without charge or trial — has reached an unprecedented level, while the fate and whereabouts of many of them remain unknown.

“Administrative detention was one of the main tools that Israel used to implement its decades-long apartheid regime against Palestinians, and it has become a tool of torture and humiliation,” Euro-Med underscored.

Over the past few weeks, the Israeli army deliberately published shocking footage and photos showing Palestinian detainees almost naked and blindfolded, kneeling on the ground guarded by Israeli soldiers, or being taken aboard military trucks to unknown places.

The letter highlighted how testimonies from newly released prisoners or their lawyers as well as video footage confirm the harsh conditions, torture, and ill-treatment that the Palestinian detainees were exposed to at the hands of Israeli forces.

“These horrific scenes reveal that the detainees were subjected to severe beatings and deliberate humiliation, but such practices may go unreported due to the detainees’ lack of legal representation, their fear of reprisals, and the international monitoring bodies’ failure to access Israeli detention centers and prisons. As a result, crimes and torture not only continue, but their horrifying effects get worse,” Euro-Med said.

Testimonies gathered by Euro-Med teams confirmed reports published earlier by Haaretz newspaper about the exposure of Gazan detainees to Israeli field executions.

“Other detainees died after being subjected to extreme torture and mistreatment in the ‘Sde Teman’ army camp, located between Beersheba and Gaza,” Euro-Med pointed out.

“The aforementioned camp was turned into a ‘new Guantánamo prison,’ where detainees are held in very harsh conditions akin to open-air chicken cages without access to food or drinks for long periods of time, while being prevented from meeting with lawyers or receiving Red Cross visits.”

“This camp houses detainees of all ages, from young children to elderly people. In fenced compounds, they are subjected to tough investigation while wearing blindfolds and having their hands tied. According to the testimonies, lights are turned on and intensely shone upon them at night with the intention of exhausting and torturing them.”

Euro-Med’s letter highlighted that “torture and other forms of ill-treatment against protected persons in the occupied territories are illegal under international law and should not be tolerated, adding that “doing so would jeopardize the rule of law and damage the standing of the international legal system.”

The letter urged the international bodies to shoulder their obligations through urgently visiting Israeli jails and checking on Palestinian detainees’ incarceration conditions.

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