[Pnews] Torture and Ill-Treatment Beyond Interrogation: Violent Raids against Palestinian Prisoners in Israeli Occupation Prisons

Prisoner News ppnews at freedomarchives.org
Thu Jul 1 20:01:15 EDT 2021

addameer.org <https://www.addameer.org/media/4429> Torture and
Ill-Treatment Beyond Interrogation: Violent Raids against Palestinian
Prisoners in Israeli Occupation Prisons
June 30, 2021

For over 29 years, Addameer Prisoner Support and Human Rights Association
has documented the systematic use of torture by the Israeli occupation
regime against Palestinian prisoners and detainees in Israeli prisons and
interrogation centers. Despite the absolute prohibition on torture under
international law, Israeli Occupation Forces routinely employ physical and
psychological torture, along with degrading and inhumane treatment, against
Palestinian detainees. Such practices begin with the violent arrest of
Palestinian detainees, who are often brutalized and beaten, and escalate
during interrogation[1] when detainees are subjected to various forms of
torture, including physical assaults, beatings, positional torture
and psychological torture. Torture and ill-treatment persist, beyond
interrogation, as a staple condition throughout Palestinian prisoners’
incarceration in Israeli prisons and detention centers.

To mark the International Day in Support of Victims of Torture, in light of
the recent raid in Ofer Prison and the closing of investigations in the
previous Naqab raid
Addameer seeks to highlight an underexamined, yet blatant case of torture
and ill-treatment against Palestinian prisoners’: Israeli violent raids on
Palestinian prisoners held in Israeli prisons. Prison raids by Israeli
Occupation Forces special units, extremely violent in nature, give way to a
host of abuses and human rights violations and serve as one method of
collective punishment, torture, and ill-treatment of Palestinian prisoners
and detainees.

Israel systematically exploits any excuse to deploy its special forces into
prisons to attack and harass the Palestinian prisoners and detainees.
Addameer alone documented more than 25 attacks in the Israeli prisons
throughout 2020. During these attacks, the special forces shackle the
prisoners, often physically assaulting them without any regard to their
medical conditions and using tear gas and pepper spray, along with a
plethora of other tactics to further abuse them. More often than not, the
prisoners report sustaining grave injuries due to the brutality of the
attacks. Additionally, the Israeli forces often confiscate the prisoners’
belongings, as well as all electronics and appliances in the prison rooms

*Recent Israeli Occupation Forces’ Raid on Ofer Prison, Parallels to the
2019 Raid on Naqab Prison*

On 13 June 2021, the Drur and Alyimaz Units of the Israeli Occupation
Forces violently raided prisoners’ cells in Section 12 in Ofer prison,
forcibly searching, ransacking, and destroying electronics, as well as
confiscating all prisoners’ written material. Addameer’s lawyers confirmed
that the IOF raid conducted extensive searches in Section 12, forcibly
transferring 72 prisoners from Section 12 to Section 18 of Ofer prison as
the prison remained under lockdown.

The latest forced incursion comes in light of the re-emergence and wide
dissemination of a security camera video filming the violent IOF raid of
Palestinian prisoners in Naqab Prison in March 2019.
<https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2Cq5UjR_NB0> The event, one of the most
violent raids documented in recent years, depicted dozens of Israeli prison
officers harassing and assaulting prisoners, kicking prisoners, and beating
them with batons as they laid handcuffed for hours. An affidavit from a
Palestinian prisoner witness and victim to the attack, collected by
Addameer,[2] documented the events of the crackdown which included the
firing of rubber-coated metal bullets, pepper spray, physical
assault—including kicking and beatings by baton—use of attack dogs,
positional torture, medical neglect, and ill-treatment.

[image: Ofer Prison Raid]

Of the approximately 98 prisoners in the targeted prison section, 82
suffered head injuries, dozens suffered from severe injuries, of which
about 11 were sent to the prison clinic, and one prisoner sustained grave
injuries leading to a two-day coma and his near-death.[3] Other serious
injuries included severe bruising, broken bones, and deep cuts. Due to the
severity of their conditions, twelve prisoners were transferred to the
hospital by ambulance or a medical helicopter. The remaining injured
prisoners were left for hours handcuffed, subject to retaliatory
ill-treatment and inhumane living conditions for days and weeks following
the raid.

The events of the IOF raid on Palestinian prisoners in Naqab Prison, beyond
constituting flagrant evidence of physical and psychological torture, serve
as a form of collective punishment and one method of torture and
ill-treatment against Palestinian prisoners and detainees. The incident
stretched out over hours, is extended in longevity by the days and weeks of
subsequent retaliatory ill-treatment, deliberate medical neglect, inhumane
living conditions, and punishment.

*“One-handed or not, the cuffs go on”: Zamel Shlouf Recounts Details of the
Attack in Eshel Prison*

In another such case in 2020, Addameer documented Israeli occupation
forces’ raid on Eshel prison. At six in the morning on 12 October
2020, a Massada
special forces unit <https://youtu.be/VKv28W6NajA> raided Eshel prison.
Prisoner Zamel Shlouf, 41 years old from Gaza, recounts the details of the
attack to Addameer’s lawyer, “The prisoners were asleep but I heard other
prisoners yelling “Massada”; I immediately stood up. That’s when I saw a
Massada unit member raising his weapon at me from the window in the cell
door; he ordered me to get down on the ground and put my hands on my head.
When the unit opened the cell door, one soldier yanked on my clothes,
grabbing me by the nape and asked me why I was there. I told him that he
asked me to lay on the ground in that position. That’s when the soldier
started to kick me in the right side of my pelvis; it was extremely painful
and humiliating.”

“When the Israeli special forces enter the prisons, their primary goal is a
show of force to provoke the prisoners and deliver a message that neither
the prisoner nor the prisoners’ movement has the right to an ounce of
dignity in the face of the occupation.”

*Na’el Barghouthi- Eshel Prison*

Zamel recalls, “The Massada unit did not take into consideration the
conditions of the ill prisoners in the section. The soldiers handcuffed
everyone, even prisoner Jamal Abu Al-Haija’ who is missing an arm; they
opted to handcuff him to me instead of exempting him considering his
medical condition.”

*A Brutal Assault almost Cost a Palestinian Life*

On 13 July 2020, a large number of the Yamas, Massada, and Drur special
forces units raided Ofer prison and attacked Palestinian prisoners in three
sections. Addammer documented the attack through a field interview with
released prisoner Nader Al-Qaisi, 24 years old from Bethlehem, who was held
there at the time. Al-Qaisi stated that on that day, Israeli special forces
raided the prison and took prisoner Rami Fadayel from his room without
prior notice, resulting in an altercation between the prisoners and the
prison administration. Later that day, at exactly 8 pm, sirens sounded in
the prison; the prisoners knew that the administration was preparing to
raid the sections. It became apparent that special forces units were
gathering in preparation to raid sections 16, 21, and 22.

Al-Qaisi recalls, “it was then when we started shouting and banging on the
doors to let the other sections know that we were about to be in a lot of
trouble. Mere minutes later, the special forces raided the section; there
were more than 50 masked soldiers dressed in tactical gear with protective
equipment, accompanied by military dogs. The units closed all the windows
in every room, along with the door slot used to bring in food. We
immediately knew that they were going to launch gas.” Al-Qiais recounts the
painful details of that day, “Despite everything we did, the soldiers tried
to push through the mattresses using long batons. When they failed to
dislodge the mattresses, they launched a large canister of gas (known among
the prisoners as “the poisonous powder gas”) into the room from beneath
them. Once it was clear that we were worn out, they emptied another
canister; half an hour later, they launched a third one. We started
screaming then because we thought prisoner Ali Jaradat
<https://www.addameer.org/prisoner/2787>, 65 years old from Ramallah, died
as he had lost consciousness from inhaling all that gas. This attack was
different. Normally, when the special forces raid the rooms and gas us,
they would disperse oxygen minutes later in fear of a prisoner dying from
gas inhalation. This time they didn’t care and never circulated oxygen.”

“Even though I have been arrested 11 times, this attack by the special
forces in Ofer prison was different. It was the most violent and brutal
attack I have ever witnessed.”

*Ibraheem Msaffar - Ofer Prison*

He continues, “After that, we went into the bathroom to take cover from the
gas. That’s when 4 soldiers entered the room and dragged prisoner Ali
Jaradat to the prison clinic. Immediately after that, they pushed us to the
ground; a soldier stood next to each prisoner, placing their foot on our
backs. The soldier next to me pushed his knee into my back while I was
face-down on the floor.” Al-Qaisi adds that during the raid, the special
units had confiscated all the appliances and food utensils and tableware,
and kept all the prisoners bound until the following morning; we were
uncuffed at 6 in the morning.

 *Culture of Impunity, Complicity of the Military Judicial System*

The recurrent use of prison raids as a form of punishment and ill-treatment
by Israeli occupation forces against Palestinian prisoners and detainees is
largely obscured due to suppression of evidence, beyond witness testimony,
and their characterization as “security measures.” Nevertheless, even in
obscene cases as the 2019 Naqab raid, described by a senior Israel Prison
Service official as “one of the most violent events”[4] to take place in an
Israeli prison, with wide documentation by human rights groups and security
camera evidence, no individual, system, or policy has been taken to count.
Rather than a point of exceptionality, this case belies the culture of
impunity enjoyed by the Israeli occupation and apartheid regime as it
systematically subjects Palestinian detainees to numerous violations of
their basic rights under international law. The systemic practice of
torture and ill-treatment constitutes grave violations of the Fourth Geneva
Conventions and its additional protocol of 1977, as well as the Rome
Statute of the International Criminal Court.

The Israeli military judicial system is integral in perpetuating impunity
for torture by providing legal and judicial cover for all acts of torture.
International judicial precedents concur that guarantees of a fair and
public trial include the courts' independence and impartiality, which
require the judicial system to not depend on the discretion of any branch
of the government, especially the executive branch. Israeli military courts
display a significant dependency on the discretion of the Israeli
government and intelligence agencies, which has effectively transformed the
judicial system into a tool of the occupation to legalize Israeli
violations of Palestinian human rights.

To this end, on the International Day in Support of Victims of Torture,
Addameer Prisoner Support and Human Rights Association calls for:

   - The International Criminal Court Office of the Prosecutor to initiate
   investigations into the Situation of Palestine for crimes against humanity
   and war crimes committed, taking into account the multitude of forms of
   torture and ill-treatment systematically perpetrated against Palestinian
   prisoners and detainees;
   - The United Nations Committee against Torture to pressure Israel to
   adopt adequate criminal legislation to define and penalize torture under
   Israeli laws;
   - The third States, including High Contracting Parties to the Fourth
   Geneva Convention, to take concrete measures to pressure Israel to halt its
   violations of international humanitarian and human rights law and to ensure
   an international investigation into all complaints of torture by Israeli
   Occupation Forces, followed by effective accountability for those
   responsible and redress for victims.

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