by Khalid Amayreh
“It is a slaughter house,” “even the Gestapo didn’t do this;” I spent many years in Israeli jails, and never experienced some thing like that.” These are some of the comments and observations made by people who have just been released from Palestinian Authority (PA) lockups and detention centers.
The PA said it formally and completely stopped physical torture in its numerous detention centers as of October 2000, especially following protests by the donor countries which complained that their tax-payers’ money was being used to torture suspected political opponents in the West Bank.
However, recent reports and testimonies gathered by human rights organizations and journalists have shown that intensive, even life-threatening torture is still being widely practiced by PA security authorities with or without the knowledge of the political authorities.
In some instances, like at the Jericho prison, which has been described as most notorious in the application of torture, some prisoners and detainees are tortured 17 hours per day.
“I am subjected to the shabah (confinement to a very low and small chair while one’s hands are cuffed and tied to his back) up to 17 hours per day, I am only let go during the time of prayers, meal times, and when I have to use the bathroom,” said Mua’ath Abu Ejheishe, one of the detainees languishing at the Jericho lockup said.
Abu Ejheishe, son of Palestinian Legislative Council member Muhammed Abu Ejheishe, said he had decided to make his affidavit, knowing beforehand he would be severely punished for that.
“But I had to do it because if we don’t expose them they will even increase the torture.”
In its most recent report on the prevalence of physical and psychological torture in PA lockups and detention centers, Human Rights Watch demanded that any given victim of torture ought to be given assurances of safety in order to encourage him to testify without being worried about possible punishments.
Selected torture cases
Following a visit to the Preventive Security lockup in Jericho by a team of lawyers affiliated with the Independent Palestinian Commission for Human Rights, it became crystal clear that “graphic and barbaric” torture was being performed on 14 detainees who were being incarcerated in “shocking” conditions.or
The delegation of lawyers visited the detainees on 17 and 19 September, 2010.
The delegation met with a number of these detainees, including the above-mentioned Mua’ath abu Ejheishe, Nedal al Qawasmeh, Hamza Eleiwewi, Badr Abu Ayyash and Eyad Mujahed. The delegation asked them about their detention conditions, but both Badr and Eyad were clearly reluctant to speak up, fearing retaliation from torturers and interrogators.
As to Abu Ejheishe, he pointed out that following:
“I am a political detainee, and I am subjected to torture because I happen to be the son of an Islamist Legislative Council member. The torture I am undergoing includes long hours of beating, shabh (prolonged confinement to a small chair with one’s hands being cuffed and tried to one’s back). I was also hung from hands and feet for several hours. However, the torturers were always sure to make sure that the hanging process didn’t last for too long lest it leave irreparable damage such as paralysis, injuries to the spinal cords, dislocations to the limbs, and bone fracture.”
His father told this reporter that his son was “severely punished” for daring to speak up about the torture he had experienced.
Another detainee, named Nedal al Qawasmeh reported that he had experienced the same torture techniques. Hamza Eleiwewi reported the same thing as well.
One of the lawyers who took part in the visit reported that the PA security authority followed a variety of tactics to circumvent accountability and responsibility.
“When the relatives of some of the detainees appeal to the High Court, the Attorney-General of the Preventive Security claims that the given detainees are not in the security apparatus’s custody or that they had been released, which means the case is closed. In many cases, this is a brash lie, since at least some of the detainees in question were still in jail and being tortured. Such was the case with Mahmoud Imwasi from Bani Naim and Saleh Qawasmeh from Hebron . ”
Some of the people released recently reported that some people were being tortured to near-death.
“I saw torturers beat Muhammed al Qashish from Halhul on his face until the victim was breathing hardly. We thought he was dying. And the torturer would open his door and ask ‘has he died or not”?
Earlier this week, Palestinian lawyer Ghandi Rabaei who deals with human rights violations by the PA security apparatus issued a detailed report alleging that the Mukhabarat or General Intelligence was nearly completely unanswerable to the Justice system and government with regard to its practices against detained individuals.
In a telephone interview, Rabaei said it was amply clear that the Mukhabarat apparatus was working illegally.
“They have no right whatsoever to detain citizens for prolonged periods or, indeed, torture or mistreat detainees.”
Source: Palestine Information Centre
About the Author: Khalid Amayreh is a Journalist living in Dura, Hebron District, West Bank, occupied Palestine . He has BA in journalism: University of Oklahoma , 1981 MA in journalism, University of Southern Illinois , 1983