Fri 1-March-2024

Euro-Med: Detainees kidnaped from Gaza faced grave Israeli violations

Tuesday 6-February-2024

GENEVA, (PIC)

New testimonies received by Euro-Med Human Right Monitor from recently released Palestinian detainees from the Gaza Strip, including women and children, have revealed their exposure to torture and ill-treatment by the Israeli occupation army.

Euro-Med Monitor cited revelations of crimes such as forced nudity, sexual harassment, and threats of sexual torture, and called for urgent international action to stop these violations.

“Testimonies from a group of recently released detainees who spent varying lengths of time in Israeli jails and detention centers were provided to the Euro-Med Monitor team. These individuals confirmed that they were subjected to severe beatings, dog attacks, strip searches, and denial of food and bathroom access, among other cruel practices that amount to torture.”

The most disturbing testimonies Euro-Med received concern female detainees who were directly sexually harassed.

Euro-Med quoted those female detainees, who preferred to remain unidentified due to safety concerns, as saying that “Israeli soldiers had harassed them by touching their genitals as well as making them remove their headscarves.”

Additionally, Euro-Med confirmed that “the soldiers forced the female detainees and their families into providing information about others by threatening to indecently assault and even rape them.”

A 70-year-old man who requested anonymity spoke with a Euro-Med team as well. “[Israeli soldiers] took me from my house in the neighborhood of Al-Amal in Khan Yunis,” the man, identified only as “M.N,” stated. “I told them that I was sick and could not move, but they did not care. They forced me to take off my clothes. They took me to a demolished house; I had the impression that I was used as a human shield.”

M.N. explained that the Israeli soldiers made more arrests later on and “led us to a detention facility that was nothing more than an iron cage for severe torture”. He spent 10 days confined to the prison.

“We were subjected to daily insults and beatings,” M.N. added. “We went four days without drinking [anything]. They poured water on the ground in front of us as a form of torture. We were made to sit on our knees, given little food, and only allowed to use the restroom once.”

“They asked us to evacuate, so I left with my family west of Khan Yunis,” reported another man, identified only as “K.H.N.” due to safety concerns. “[Israeli soldiers] arrested me at the checkpoint and forced me to take off my clothes. I was severely beaten. Blankets soaked with water were draped over us. We did not drink any water and were abnormally cold.”

K.H.N. stated that the Israeli army “later transferred us to another place, where we were subjected to another form of torture. Every new place had a unique method of torture. I was struck in the head by an officer, who continued to hit me after I complained.” The severe cold prevented him from falling asleep, he told Euro-Med.

“They arrested me from Beit Lahia, and forced me to completely undress,” a third man, identified as “M.W.”, told Euro-Med. “They detained me in an open area and severely beat me; I felt their hands scour my body. After severely beating me with rugs and rifle butts, they hung me by my legs. I was exposed to severe beatings for 4 to 6 hours [per day].”

He added: “They threatened to rape my family, and asked for information that I did not know. They forced us to insult certain factions and personalities, to support Israel, and to say that the dog that was attacking us was ‘a crown on our heads.’”

“They arrested me at the checkpoint on Salah al-Din Road,” a woman, identified as “G” told Euro-Med. “They asked me to head to a sand berm, where they blindfolded me, searched me with their hands, and asked me about Hamas and the tunnels.”

“Then they moved me to an open area, then [transferred] me to a detention center, where I was forced to take off my clothes,” G said further. “They provided me with nothing but [house clothes] and no underwear.”

The woman told Euro-Med that she was questioned multiple times while in custody. “Every time I was stripped nude, with the female soldiers putting their hands on me, while male soldiers occasionally made rude comments, harsh insults that I cannot [repeat], and rape threats.”

According to Euro-Med, a recent report by Israel’s own media on the detention center housing Palestinians from the Gaza Strip shows that Israel practices systematic torture, in violation of human rights agreements that were explicitly designed and implemented to prevent torture. The report shows detainees being shackled and forced to sit on the ground in iron animal-like cages — in accordance to Israeli defense minister Yoav Gallant’s October 2023 remarks that the Palestinians in Gaza are “human animals.”

Euro-Med accused the Israeli occupation forces of forcibly hiding Palestinian detainees and subjecting them to brutal violence and even severe torture from the very first moment of their arrest right up until the moment of release.

Euro-Med also accused the Israeli occupation authority of refusing requests from multiple human rights groups, including Israeli ones, seeking information about Gazan detainees.

“Detainees from the Gaza Strip are being held in newly-established Israeli army detention facilities scattered throughout the Negev and Jerusalem, where they endure severe abuse, torture, and starvation,” Euro-Med said.

Euro-Med pointed out that the number of detainees from Gaza is not known accurately. “The Israeli army recently claimed that there are 2,300 detainees in Gaza; however, estimates based on the testimonies of those released suggest that the actual number of detainees is much higher. One detainee said that Israeli officers had personally informed them that there are thousands of Gazan detainees.”

“Israel’s Sde Teman army camp, located between Beersheba and Gaza, has been turned into a Guantánamo-like prison,” Euro-Med said. “Detainees there are held in extreme conditions akin to open-air chicken cages, without access to food or drink for long periods of time.

Euro-Med highlighted testimonies it had received about the death of two detainees, one of them with an amputated foot, inside the Sde Teman camp.

Euro-Med called on Israel “to promptly reveal the names, whereabouts, and fate of all forcibly disappeared detainees, and to immediately stop its policy of torture and ill-treatment of Palestinian detainees.”

Euro-Med emphasized that “Israel’s ruthless assaults on Palestinian detainees, which violate their dignity and purposefully cause them great pain and suffering, are tantamount to crimes against humanity and/or torture, which fall under the purview of war crimes and crimes against humanity as defined by the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court.”

Euro-Med stated that “these breaches are related to Israel’s ongoing genocide in the Gaza Strip, which began on October 7, 2023. Specifically, the killing of Palestinian detainees inside detention centers is considered to be a crime of premeditated murder and an extrajudicial execution. This type of killing is prohibited by international law, especially international human rights law, international humanitarian law, and international criminal law, which considers intentionally killing civilians a war crime, according to the Rome Statute.”

“International law also prohibits arbitrary arrest and unlawful imprisonment, and considers them to be war crimes,” Euro-Med noted. “International law forbids detaining and arresting someone and depriving them of their freedom by failing to provide any information about their whereabouts or fate in an effort to deny them legal protection for an extended period of time. According to the Rome Statute, enforced disappearance is considered a crime against humanity.”

The Geneva-based rights group called on the International Committee of the Red Cross to shoulder its responsibilities and work on confirming and exposing the detention conditions of Palestinian detainees in Israeli detention camps and jails.

Euro-Med also called on the Special Rapporteur on Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, and the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention to launch an urgent and impartial investigation into Israel’s egregious violations in Gaza. “This investigation is needed to probe the Israeli army’s liquidation of Palestinian civilians after their arrest in different areas of the Gaza Strip, to hold those responsible accountable, and to provide justice to all survivors as well as the families of victims.”

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