The HyperTexts

Why Israel Abuses and Tortures Palestinian Children

Israel abuses and tortures Palestinian children? Why? The reasons are the oldest in the book: racism, the fascist idea that "might makes right" and the ability of rich robber barons to steal land and water from a much poorer, weaker people while using oceans of propaganda to convince the rest of the world that the victims "deserve" their unjust fate. It has happened many times before in human history: for instance, when white robber barons stole land and water from Native Americans in the Wild, Wild West; when Germans robbed, falsely imprisoned and murdered Jews and other "undesirables" during the Holocaust; and in apartheidist South Africa. The world should know better by now, and indeed around the world today we are seeing protests against Israel's inhumane treatment of Palestinians. How many children are "terrorists"? Why are Palestinian children being abused and tortured by Israel, one of the world's military superpowers? When will the madness end?

by Michael R. Burch, an editor of Holocaust and Nakba poetry

The house of the little Palestinian girl in the picture above was destroyed by the government of Israel. Why?

If we are to have real peace in the world,
we will have to begin with the children.

I am an editor and publisher of Holocaust and Nakba poetry. I hope you will agree with me when I say that nothing is more reprehensible than rich, powerful men torturing and abusing innocent children in their lust to obtain money, land and power. Unfortunately, such things happened in the past. During the Holocaust, rich powerful Germans like Hitler and his henchmen tortured and abused millions of Jewish, Gypsy, Slavic and other children. Why? Because they wanted to steal the land, homes and property of the children's parents, and they didn't care how many lives they trampled in the process. Similar things happened to Native American children who were forced to walk the Trail of Tears. Why? Because the white supremacists running the U.S. government at the time wanted their parents' land and natural resources. Today, millions of Palestinian children and their mothers are walking a new Trail of Tears, because rich, powerful Israeli Jews want to continue stealing land, water and other natural resources in the West Bank, even though Israel has already taken more than 80% of the Palestinians' land (see the maps below). Torture greatly compounds the suffering of Palestinian children, and clearly demonstrates the cruelty and depravity of the people in power. The picture above and the maps below are closely related, because Israel has destroyed thousands of Palestinian homes since the Nakba ("Catastrophe") began in 1948.

Map 1 of 1946 Palestine shows more than 90% of the land belonging to Palestinians; at this point Jewish settlers had paid for most of the land they occupied
Map 2 of 1947 U.N. partition plan of Israel and Palestine; the land in the white areas was not "given" to Israel; Israeli Jews stole the additional land
Map 3 of 1967 borders of Israel and Palestine; these are the "1967 lines" aka as the "1949 armistice lines"; once again Israeli Jews stole the additional land
Map 4 of 2000 borders shows how Israel keeps stealing land outside its legal borders, creating discontiguous Palestinian

Apartheid is a crime against humanity. Israel has deprived millions of Palestinians of their liberty and property. It has perpetuated a system of gross racial discrimination and inequality. It has systematically incarcerated and tortured thousands of Palestinians, contrary to the rules of international law. It has, in particular, waged a war against a civilian population, in particular children.óNelson Mandela in an open letter to Thomas Friedman

If you want peace and democracy, I will support you. If you want formal apartheid, we will not support you. If you want to support racial discrimination and ethnic cleansing, we will oppose you.óNelson Mandela, concluding the same letter to Thomas Friedman

If anyone understands such things, it's Nelson Mandela, who battled apartheid and ethnic cleansing most of his life in South Africa, working to finally ending the madness, after which he became president of South Africa and later a Nobel Peace Prize Laureate and an icon of peace to billions of people around the world. Other Nobel Peace Prize Laureates, including Desmond Tutu and Jimmy Carter, have sternly criticized Israel's racism, apartheid and ethnic cleansing of Palestinians. Mohandas Gandhi and Albert Einstein, perhaps the greatest Jewish intellectual of all time, also strongly opposed Jews robbing Palestinians of their land, freedom, human rights and representative government.

But if we are going to discuss Israel's abuse and torture of children, it seem to me that we must answer two very important questions: First, how can we be sure that Israel really is abusing and torturing children? Then second, why in the name of heaven would a nation that calls itself a civilized modern democracy do such terrible things to innocent children?

There have been many reports of Israel torturing children, and I have included a number of such reports on this page. Evidence of Israel's abuse of children is clear and irrefutable. One of the worst forms of child abuse is the destruction of Palestinian homes. A variety of sources, including Jewish historians like Benny Morris and Ilan Pappe, have confirmed that, beginning in 1948, the government of Israel destroyed hundreds of Palestinian villages, leaving approximately 750,000 Palestinians homeless, destitute refugees. Most of the victims were noncombatant farmers and their families. Since 1967, the Israeli Committee Against Home Demolitions (ICAHD) has tracked and reported more that 24,000 more home demolitions. Israel has also destroyed thousands of valuable olive trees, which were the main source of income to many Palestinian farm families. To rob children and parents of their homes and ability to earn money is a terrible form of child abuse. No other nation in the free world has targeted an ethnic group for such large-scale home demolitions, so Israel's claims to be a modern democracy ring hollow.

Why would a nation like Israel do such terrible things to innocent children? As has happened at other times in man's dark past, racism can make it possible for one group of human beings to dehumanize and demonize another, to such an extent that terrible atrocities become possible. Unless the government, laws and courts of a nation protect everyone equally, the worst elements of a racist society soon begin to prey on the defenseless. This happened in the Confederacy, with American slavery, and in the South after the Civil War, when the federal and state governments failed to prevent the KKK from attacking and sometimes lynching African Americans. Today, as we will soon see, the government, laws and courts of Israel have failed to protect Palestinians from the worst elements of Israeli society. As a result, Palestinian children have become the defenseless prey of racist thugs and robber barons. Unfortunately, some of the worst thugs wear military uniforms.

For anyone who has doubts about whether the Palestinians are the victims of racism, apartheid and ethnic cleansing, please allow me to cite people we can trust: the best-known and most-respected men of peace ...

Mohandas Gandhi, the father of modern nonviolent protest, wrote, "What is going on in Palestine today cannot be justified by any moral code of conduct ... And now a word to the Jews in Palestine. I have no doubt that they are going about it the wrong way ... A religious act cannot be performed with the aid of the bayonet or the bomb. They can settle in Palestine only by the goodwill of the Arabs. ... There are hundreds of ways of reasoning with the Arabs, if only they will discard the help of the British bayonet. As it is, they are co-sharers with the British in despoiling a people who have done no wrong to them. I am not defending the Arab excesses. I wish they had chosen the way of non-violence in resisting what they rightly regarded as an unwarrantable encroachment upon their country. But according to the accepted canons of right and wrong, nothing can be said against the Arab resistance in the face of overwhelming odds."

Nobel Peace Prize laureate Desmond Tutu asked, "Have our Jewish sisters and brothers forgotten their humiliation? Have they forgotten the collective punishment, the home demolitions, in their own history [the Holocaust] so soon? Have they turned their backs on their profound and noble religious traditions?"

Nobel Peace Prize laureate Nelson Mandela, in a memo to Thomas L. Friedman, a columnist for the New York Times, compared Israeli apartheid to South African apartheid, saying, "As to the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Gaza . . . the so-called 'Palestinian autonomous areas' are bantustans. These are restricted entities within the power structure of the Israeli apartheid system."

Nobel Peace Prize laureate Jimmy Carter compared the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians to the ethnic cleansing of Native Americans: "I equated the ejection of Palestinians from their previous homes within the State of Israel to the forcing of Lower Creek Indians from the Georgia land where our family farm was now located; they had been moved west to Oklahoma on the Trail of Tears to make room for our white ancestors."

These good and wise men have clearly stated the case against Israeli racism, apartheid and ethnic cleansing of Palestinians. Only the very gullible believe what racist robber barons say about their victims. Anyone compassionate person with a sense of justice knows that ethnic cleansing is wrong. So if you are a compassionate person with a sense of justice, who believes that all children are entitled to equality and justice, please consider doing everything within your power to help Palestinian children enjoy the same rights and freedoms as other children.

Now, here are a series of articles about Israel's abuse and torture of innocent children ...

Desmond Tutu, writing about the similarities between South African and Israeli apartheid

I've been very deeply distressed in my visit to the Holy Land; it reminded me so much of what happened to us black people in South Africa. I have seen the humiliation of the Palestinians at checkpoints and roadblocks, suffering like us when young white police officers prevented us from moving about.

On one of my visits to the Holy Land I drove to a church with the Anglican bishop in Jerusalem. I could hear tears in his voice as he pointed to Jewish settlements. I thought of the desire of Israelis for security. But what of the Palestinians who have lost their land and homes?

I have experienced Palestinians pointing to what were their homes, now occupied by Jewish Israelis. I was walking with Canon Naim Ateek (the head of the Sabeel Ecumenical Centre) in Jerusalem. He pointed and said: "Our home was over there. We were driven out of our home; it is now occupied by Israeli Jews."

My heart aches. I say why are our memories so short. Have our Jewish sisters and brothers forgotten their humiliation? Have they forgotten the collective punishment, the home demolitions, in their own history so soon? Have they turned their backs on their profound and noble religious traditions? Have they forgotten that God cares deeply about the downtrodden?

Israel will never get true security and safety through oppressing another people. A true peace can ultimately be built only on justice. We condemn the violence of suicide bombers, and we condemn the corruption of young minds taught hatred; but we also condemn the violence of military incursions in the occupied lands, and the inhumanity that won't let ambulances reach the injured.

The military action of recent days, I predict with certainty, will not provide the security and peace Israelis want; it will only intensify the hatred.

Desmond Tutu is right, Israel is a racist state
by Danny Glenwright

Desmond Tutu is a dishonest bigot. At least according to a group of 350 or so South Africans who recently took time out of their lives to put their names to a petition calling for Tutu to be removed as patron of South African Holocaust centres.

It’s the funniest thing I’ve read in months. I had to check the top of my screen to see if it was April Fools’ Day.

The group accuses Tutu, winner of a Nobel Peace Prize and one of the most respected men in the entire world, of dishonestly calling Israel a racist society. How outrageous! What blasphemy.

Sadly, it’s the truth.

But let’s get some facts straight first. Desmond Tutu is internationally famous for his vocal, decades-long stand against apartheid in South Africa, and more recently the apartheid structure currently characterising Israel/Palestine. Indeed, South Africa and beyond, there are not many noble causes Tutu has not spent at least some of his 79 years campaigning on behalf of. From HIV and Aids to homophobia to poverty, Tutu is a living legend. The list of international humanitarian awards he has won is almost as long as his remarkable CV.

Israel would be so lucky to have a public figure and humanitarian of Tutu’s stature. Instead, unfortunately for Israelis, its politicians and leaders are more often in the news for rape (see Katsav, Moshe, former president); graft (see Sharon, Ariel, former prime minister); racism (see Lieberman, Avigdor, current foreign minister) and piracy (see MV Mavi Marmara, Gaza aid flotilla). If the 350 good citizens of South Africa are looking for dishonesty and racism, they should get on the first flight to Tel Aviv.
Israel is currently illegally occupying Palestinian land, which it has held in direct contravention of international law since 1967. It is the longest illegal military occupation in history and it continues voraciously. Illegal Israeli settlements are going up as I write. Israeli leaders lie about this fact on a daily basis. So does much of the Israeli media and academia.

J Street, a non-profit American advocacy group made up mostly of Jews, writes on its website that “Israel’s settlements … have, for over forty years, been an obstacle to peace. They have … eroded the country’s ability to uphold the rule of law” and “the arrangements that have been made for the benefit of settlers and for security — checkpoints, settler-only roads, the route of the security barrier — have all made daily life more difficult for Palestinians”.

The situation in the Middle East is complex and next to hopeless. The list of atrocities committed by the state of Israel and its American sponsors against the Palestinian people could fill encyclopaedias. And yes, the Palestinians have also committed atrocities against the Israeli people, nobody denies that. However, anyone with a basic, honest knowledge of the politics of the region (admitting my connection: I lived and worked in the West Bank and Israel for almost two years) would have to be blind, deaf and mute to think this age-old conflict is somehow a fight between two equal sides.

This fact aside, Israel is a racist country with racist laws.

Rather than dredge up the typical, accurate and very long list of crimes committed by Israel (see eight-metre-high apartheid wall; illicit use of white phosphorus; targeted assassinations; home demolitions; open-air Gaza concentration camp; Sabra, Shatila, Gaza and Jenin refugee camp massacres, among many others) it might be appropriate to mention some blatant examples of racism which are not often cited.

Before the establishment of the state of Israel in 1948 and the (well-documented) ethnic cleansing of more than 800 000 Palestinians, 531 villages and almost 100 000 Bedouins, the Bedouin owned 98% of the Negev. From that day until the present, the Israeli government has ignored their claim and stolen most of it from them.

I met several Negev Bedouin, including Atiya Al Atameen, whose village has no running water, no electricity, no paved roads, no garbage collection, no telephone or postal service, no transport system and no healthcare. The land under his village has been desiccated — the water used to provide forests and fountains in unsustainable nearby Jewish towns. His children travel eight kilometres to go to school. Homes in his village are regularly demolished by the Israeli military, crops are destroyed and poisoned, sewage from Israeli towns runs through the streets and, despite being citizens of Israel (many in his community have even served in the army), they live in fear that their village — which has existed much longer than the state of Israel — will be destroyed by it at any moment.

If all this is not bad enough, the municipality of Tel Aviv dumps its waste in the Bedouin areas of the Negev and the government houses most of its unsafe infrastructure there, including a nuclear reactor, petrochemical factories and a toxic waste incinerator. Cancer and mortality rates are higher than anywhere else in the country and one study called it a “public health crisis”.

Across the highway from Atiya’s “unrecognised” village sits a gated community of hundreds of “Jews” from India. Flown to Israel to boost Jewish numbers, their community was created in the middle of the Negev on stolen Bedouin land. They have running water, garbage collection, electricity, schools and social services, all provided by the state of Israel. They have a Disneyland oasis of trees, gardens, football pitches and parks, all courtesy of stolen Negev water resources.

Palestinians living in Israel suffer similar racism and discrimination. Their neighbourhoods are not maintained while Jewish areas are manicured on behalf of the state, their water is cut off first during droughts, and their children (many under 12 years old) are subject to arrest and detention at ages much younger than Jewish children and often held for months without being charged, usually without access to legal help or Red Cross staff.

Non-Jewish immigrants are required to pledge allegiance to the Jewish state of Israel in order to receive citizenship and Palestinians from the West Bank and Gaza married to Israeli citizens are not allowed to live in the country with their spouses. The list goes on.

Human Rights Watch, one of the world’s most respected international organisations, has said: “Palestinians face systematic discrimination merely because of their race, ethnicity, and national origin, depriving them of electricity, water, schools, and access to roads.”

There is no other word for such Israel policies but racist. The country is not a democracy, it is an ethnocracy — if you’re not Jewish you might as well get out or give up.

If Desmond Tutu was brave enough to travel to the region and say this in a world where claims of anti-Semitism are thrown around like confetti at a wedding, good for him.

We need more Desmond Tutus and we need them to speak up and to never be silenced.

Everyone should visit this tiny piece of disputed land. There is no way you will not be humbled and disgusted. I dare anyone to look at that high cement wall surrounding Palestine (jutting into its territory and stealing valuable aquifers, surrounding towns and cutting off families) and not be viscerally touched, to the core, at the tragic example of a crime against humanity and apartheid of our generation.

While we will never forget the Holocaust — and many always live in guilt — I think if we don’t work to do something about this modern tragedy we will also always be guilty at what we allowed to occur while we sat idly by and did nothing but talk about how nice peace might be for Israelis and Palestinians, if only they would hurry up and find it. Some of us would rather waste time writing ridiculous petitions against a global hero.

Danny Glenwright is a Canadian journalist and human rights do-gooder currently based in Johannesburg. For several years he has lived and worked in Africa and the Middle East, writing about human rights, gender issues and various other topics that get him worked up.

UN classifies as 'inhuman' and 'cruel' solitary confinement of Palestinian children by Israel
July 20, 2012

The UN Special Rapporteur on the human rights situation in the occupied Palestinian territories, Richard Falk, condemned on Friday (July 20) the use by Israel of solitary confinement of Palestinian children. Falk asked the Israeli government to treat detained Palestinian children in accordance with international law, respecting their human rights and dignity. According to Falk, "The use of solitary confinement by Israel against children flagrantly violates international standards of human rights," Falk was indignant about Israel applying the measure as punishment for children on hunger strike.

"This pattern of abuse of Israel is serious," he says. "It is inhumane, cruel, degrading and illegal, and more worrying, is likely to affect the physical and mental health of detained minors."

"Prison conditions are generally deplorable, forcing children to sleep on the floor or on beds of concrete in windowless cells," says Falk. "Children in Palestine, especially Gaza, are also denied visits from relatives and access to lawyers. This isolates and intimidates children and expose them to mistreatment during interrogation."

Falk noted that in 53 cases reported by the NGO Defence for Children International since 2008, Palestinians between 15 and 17 years old were kept in solitary confinement for periods of 1-24 days.

UN Committee reports moments of terror that are part of daily life for Palestinians
July 20, 2012

Also on Friday (July 20), the UN Special Committee on Israeli Practices in Occupied Territories expressed grave concern over the treatment of Palestinian children detained by Israeli security forces ...

"Witnesses told the Commission that mistreatment of Palestinian children begins from the moment of detention," said Palitha TB Kohona, Ambassador, Permanent Representative of Sri Lanka to the United Nations in New York and President of the Commission, at the end of a fact-finding visit in Amman (Jordan), Cairo (Egypt) and the Gaza Strip.

"A lot of people are routinely detained. Homes with children are surrounded by Israeli soldiers during the night, sound grenades are fired toward the homes, doors are broken, shots are often fired, no warrant is presented," he noted, continuing, "Children are brutally arrested, blindfolded and are pushed to the back of military vehicles."

Ambassador Kohona explained that parents are not allowed to monitor detained children by Israel, and that family members are insulted, harassed and sometimes physically abused. According to witnesses, the arrest and transfer of children may last for hours, and often may include stops in Israeli settlements, checkpoints and police or military bases in Israel.

"Children are not informed of their rights, including the right to legal representation and no self-incrimination," he said. In 63% of cases involving Palestinian children, according to reports received, the Israeli authorities try to pressure them to become informants. "The Committee's view is that this is an unacceptable practice, which Israel must stop immediately."

"Reports of the interrogation of Palestinian children are of paramount concern to the Commission, and the conditions of detention in general," said Ambassador Kohona. "Detained Palestinian children are often denied family visits and access to legal representation, and are kept in cells with adults, denied access to education and, even at the age of 12 years, tried in Israeli military courts."

"We were dismayed to hear that Israel is continuing its practice of condemning children to prison or house arrest in homes other than their own families', in effect exiling them from their families," he said. The Commission was informed by witnesses that there were 192 children in detention, with 39 of them younger than 16 years.

The Committee also was shocked to learn that Israel puts Palestinian children in solitary confinement. "According to reports received, Israel uses solitary confinement for  12% of Palestinian children arrested," said Ambassador Kohona. "This is especially alarming when one considers that Israel holds about 500 to 700 Palestinian children every year."

In his introductory remarks, the head of the UN Special Committee drew attention to two other areas of immediate concern in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem: the Israeli practice of demolishing Palestinian houses, and Israeli settler violence against Palestinians. The experts also evaluated the economic impact of the Israeli blockade of Gaza.

"The Special Committee finds these practices by Israel deeply disturbing," said Kohona. "The mass arrests of Palestinians, the routine demolition of homes and displacement of Palestinians, widespread violence by Israeli settlers against Palestinians, and the blockade and the resulting dependency on illegal smuggling to survive, amount to a strategy to force the withdrawal of Palestinian people from their lands or marginalize them severely in order to establish and maintain a system of permanent oppression."

The Special Committee will submit a mission report to the UN General Assembly next November, with its observations and recommendations to improve the situation of human rights for those whose lives are affected by the occupation.

Nelson Mandela's Open Letter to Thomas Friedman About Israel & Palestine
March 28, 2001

Dear Thomas,

I know that you and I long for peace in the Middle East, but before you continue to talk about necessary conditions from an Israeli perspective, you need to know what’s on my mind. Where to begin? How about 1964. Let me quote my own words during my trial. They are true today as they were then: “I have fought against white domination and I have fought against black domination. I have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons live together in harmony and with equal opportunities. It is an ideal which I hope to live for and to achieve. But if needs be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die.”

Today the world, black and white, recognize that Apartheid has no future. In South Africa it has been ended by our own decisive mass action in order to build peace and security. That mass campaign of defiance and other actions could only culminate in the establishment of Democracy.

Perhaps it is strange for you to observe the situation in Palestine or more specifically, the structure of political and cultural relationships between Palestinians and Israelis, as an Apartheid system. This is because you incorrectly think that the problem of Palestine began in 1967. This was demonstrated in your recent column “Bush’s First Memo” in the New York Times on March 27, 2001.

You seem to be surprised to hear that there are still problems of 1948 to be solved, the most important component of which is the right to return of Palestinian refugees. The Palestinian-Israeli conflict is not just an issue of military occupation and Israel is not a country that was established “normally” and happened to occupy another country in 1967. Palestinians are not struggling for a “state” but for freedom, liberation and equality, just like we were struggling for freedom in South Africa.

In the last few years, and especially during the reign of the Labour Party, Israel showed that it was not even willing to return what it occupied in 1967; that Settlements remain, Jerusalem would be under exclusive Israeli sovereignty, and Palestinians would not have an independent state, but would be under Israeli economic domination with Israeli control of borders, land, air, water and sea.

Israel was not thinking of a “state” but of “separation”. The value of separation is measured in terms of the ability of Israel to keep the Jewish state Jewish, and not to have a Palestinian minority that could have the opportunity to become a majority at some time in the future. If this takes place, it would force Israel to either become a secular democratic or bi-national state, or to turn into a state of Apartheid not only de facto, but also de jure.

Thomas, if you follow the polls in Israel for the last 30 or 40 years, you clearly find a vulgar racism that includes a third of the population who openly declare themselves to be racist. This racism is of the nature of “I hate Arabs” and “I wish Arabs would be dead”.

If you also follow the judicial system in Israel you will see there is discrimination against Palestinians, and if you further consider the 1967 Occupied Territories you will find there are already two judicial systems in operation that represent two different approaches to human life: one for Palestinian life and the other for Jewish life. Additionally there are two different approaches to property and to land. Palestinian property is not recognized as private property because it can be confiscated.

As to the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Gaza, there is an additional factor. The so-called “Palestinian autonomous areas” are Bantustans. These are restricted entities within the power structure of the Israeli Apartheid system.

The Palestinian state cannot be the by-product of the Jewish state, just in order to keep the Jewish purity of Israel. Israel’s racial discrimination is daily life of most Palestinians. Since Israel is a Jewish state, Israeli Jews are able to accrue special rights which non-Jews cannot do. Palestinian Arabs have no place in a “Jewish” state.

Apartheid is a crime against humanity. Israel has deprived millions of Palestinians of their liberty and property. It has perpetuated a system of gross racial discrimination and inequality. It has systematically incarcerated and tortured thousands of Palestinians, contrary to the rules of international law. It has, in particular, waged a war against a civilian population, in particular children.

The responses made by South Africa to human rights abuses emanating from the removal policies and Apartheid policies respectively, shed light on what Israeli society must necessarily go through before one can speak of a just and lasting peace in the Middle East and an end to its Apartheid policies.

Thomas, I’m not abandoning Mideast diplomacy. But I’m not going to indulge you the way your supporters do. If you want peace and democracy, I will support you. If you want formal Apartheid, we will not support you. If you want to support racial discrimination and ethnic cleansing, we will oppose you.

When you figure out what you’re about, give me a call.

Rights groups: Shin Bet torturing jailed Palestinians
Report by B'Tselem and Hamoked based on testimony of 73 prisoners, says Shin Bet defying High Court.
by Nir Hasson and AP
May.6, 2007

A report released Sunday by two human rights organizations charges that the Shin Bet security service is employing "irregular" interrogation methods including physical pressure and torture, despite High Court rulings barring such practices.

The joint report by B'Tselem and HaMoked: Center for the Defence of the Individual, was based on testimony of 73 prisoners arrested between July 2005 and March 2006. The report states that "special interrogation methods" which are considered to be torture are not employed frequently, but are used according to standing regulations.
According to the report, the physical abuse includes beating, painful binding, back bending, body stretching and prolonged sleep deprivation. The two groups say that these methods constitute torture under international law.

The report states that the methods are used to break the spirits of the prisoners under questioning, and are alleged to violate High Court rulings governing the conduct of interrogations.

A range of other practices that are aimed at breaking the interrogated prisoners' spirits are employed routinely, and may degenerate into torture, the report continues.
The authors of the report severely criticize the State Prosecutor's Office and the courts for allegedly allowing these practices to be used.

A 1999 High Court ruling declared an absolute ban on the use of torture during interrogation. But the court allowed use of methods to create pressure or discomfort as part of the questioning, but not with the aim of breaking the spirit of those under interrogation.

An exception was also made in cases defined as "ticking bombs," in which interrogation could prevent a terror attack planned to take place immediately. Under these circumstances, disciplinary steps would not be taken against interrogators who used forms of torture.

The Justice Ministry, which oversees investigations of security services, said in response to the report that the Shin Bet investigations are performed in accordance with the law.

"The report is fraught with mistakes, groundless claims and inaccuracies," the ministry said, adding that it was "based on unrepresentative examples chosen in a tendentious way to distort the existing reality."

Decrease in incidents. Since the High Court ruling was announced, the number and severity of torture incidents has significantly decreased. The writers of the report identified seven 'special' kinds of torture used in cases where fast divulsion of information is desired.

These were: sleep deprivation for over 24 hours (15 out of 73 suspects reported this), 'invisible' blows, or blows that do not leave a mark (17 cases), painful tightening of handcuffs (five cases), body stretching with hands tied to chair (six cases), turning of the head sideways or backwards while holding chin in place (eight cases), 'frog posture' or shoving subjects while forcing them to crouch on the tips of their toes (three cases), 'banana posture' or bending subjects' backs into an arch (five cases).

"These practices are clearly classified as torture under International Law, and are neither common nor negligible," the report states.

It identifies seven further methods which are commonly practiced, and may be classified as torture. These were isolation from the outside world including lawyers or the Red Cross, psychological and physical pressure exerted through conditions like solitary confinement, lack of exercise, sleep and food deprivation, shackling subjects to their chairs, swearing and insults, nude searches, threats of torture and arrest of family members, and planting of 'friendly' prisoners in detainees' cells.

The report clarifies that the last method is legitimate, but is dependant on use of more abusive practices.

According to the report, Shin Bet interrogators are supported by other authorities in Israel . "Shin Bet and soldiers do not operate in a vacuum, they are part of a system. The situation described in this document could not have come about without the support of other bodies responsible for implementing the law in Israel."

Despite over 500 complaints of abuse made to the attorney's office since 2001, no criminal investigation was launched, the groups stated. They said that this was because complaints are investigated by a member of Shin Bet, who is subordinate to the organization's head and not to an independent body.

Harsh criticism was also directed at the High Court in the report, which it said gives the seal of approval to decrees which make it possible to prevent detainees access to legal representation. Hundreds of petitions have been made on this subject, and none of them has been followed up, it said.

The report put forward various proposals. It recommended that the Shin Bet be ordered to cease interrogation practices which 'aim to damage the dignity or physical wellbeing of detainees'; that legislation be introduced prohibiting the use of torture and abuse, and that will limit 'protection of interests'; that an independent body is established to investigate complaints made by detainees; that Shin Bet interrogations be videotaped and that interrogation premises be subject to inspection by United Nations officials.

It also backed repeal of the military decree which allows the Shin Bet to prevent detainees from meeting legal professionals. The report advises that the same laws be applied to Palestinian detainees as for Israelis, and it urges that those who allegedly abused the rights of Palestinian prisoners be brought to justice.

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