New data about GSS (Shabac) unorthodox methods at Erez Crossing
4 May 2009
New data and 30 new testimonies show: Rise in the number of patients interrogated; interrogation of minors; Policy conducted in full “cooperation of High Court, Legal Advisor to Government;” says PHR director Hadas Ziv
Data and new testimonies collected by Physicians for Human Rights – Israel (PHR-I) and presented today (Monday May 4) at the UN Committee Against Torture in Geneva, indicates a rise in the number of Palestinian patients interrogated and forced to provide information as a precondition to exit Gaza for medical care. The information also exposes a series of new practical measures employed by the GSS. PHR-Israel has learned that:
- GSS has interrogated minors,
- photographed patients against their will,
- detained patients for undisclosed periods of time for interrogation,
- implemented interrogations without prior notice;
- Harassed, accused, cursed and intimidated patients during interrogations;
- Patients that did not cooperate were returned to Gaza without receiving a permit to exit for medical treatment.
Between January 2008 and March 2009, at least 438 patients have been summoned for GSS interrogations at Erez Crossing, as a precondition for the review of their applications for an exit permit for the purpose of accessing medical treatment outside the Strip. The data points to an increase in the ratio of the number of interrogations to the total number of applications submitted to the authorities at Erez Crossing: from 1.45% in January 2008 to 17% in January 2009.
About a year ago, PHR published a report which exposed the ways in which the GSS operates systematically in order to recruit patients as collaborators. Since the release of this report, the GSS has continued its policies despite international criticism that these policies negate the International Treaty Against Torture and general codes of Medical Ethics.
Collaboration as a condition for exiting for treatment:
…they asked me: “What’s your full name, where did you study, what did you study, where do you work, why do you want to go out, which area do you live in, who lives around you and who are the neighbors?” They asked me to provide information on some of the people who live in my neighborhood. I said to them: “I don’t know them and I know nothing about the people around me. I’m only concerned with myself.” Then the interrogator asked me about someone called Amer. I said: “The whole town is full of Amers, which Amer are you talking about?” Then he asked me about someone called Hisar, someone called Aladia and finally he asked me if I know Hamas people and who I know among the activists. I said:” I don’t like politics and all those things.” The interrogator said: “I understand that you don’t want to answer me and that you don’t want to work with us, so go back to Gaza.”
Taken from testimony of “R”, a patient referred for orthopedic treatment at Saint George Hospital in East Jerusalem. The testimony was taken on September 22, 2008.
Detaining patients for undisclosed periods of time:
…When he didn’t get an answer which satisfied him, he ordered the other man to take me to another room. They took me there and closed the door and I was left alone there. After 45 minutes the interrogator opened the door and said: “Do you want to answer my questions now or not? If you tell me which members of your family belong to the Hamas and which to the Islamic Jihad, I’ll let you leave Gaza for the hospital”. I said: “There aren’t any people like that in my family”. At 16.30 the interrogator said: “Enough. Take him and send him back to Gaza”. I said: “If it’s to Gaza – then to Gaza it will be."
From the testimony of W., who was interrogated on 8.12.08. The testimony was submitted to PHR-Israel on 17.12.08. The patient suffered from kidney stones and was referred for treatment to St. Joseph hospital in East Jerusalem.
R., a 17.5 years old cancer patient who is being treated at Sheba Medical Center in Israel, arrived at the Erez Crossing after having been informed by PHR-Israel that her departure, accompanied by her mother, had been approved. When they reached the crossing point at 9 a.m they were told to sit and wait in the departure hall. At around 11.30 three GSS men in civilian dress came over and asked R. to follow them for interrogation. Despite the girl’s tears and pleading, one of the GSS men threatened that if she did not accompany him, he would send her back to Gaza. R. was separated from her mother and taken for interrogation. All this time, her mother was locked in the adjacent room and told to wait for her daughter. The interrogation lasted an hour, and in its course, the girl’s cell phone was taken, she was questioned about her uncle and her father, their place of employment etc. On conclusion of the interrogation, the girl was taken back to her mother, and at the end of the day, around 17.00 she was permitted to leave for Israel
From the testimony of R., who was interrogated on 29.1.09. Testimony submitted to PHR-Israel on the same day. The patient suffers from a malignant tumor on the leg and is being treated at Shiba Medical Center in Israel.
Patients from Gaza – between the devil and the deep blue sea: patients have reported to PHR-Israel that since February 2009, Hamas police – stationed at a checkpoint a kilometer and a half south of Erez Crossing - have been preventing individuals from reaching Erez Crossing for GSS interrogations. According to the testimonies, patients claim that Hamas policy is to permit patients to reach the crossing only if they are going there in order to exit for medical treatment. In some cases patients report threats leveled at them that if they attend the interrogations they will be harmed.
PHR-Israel demands an immediate halt to the GSS policy of extortion targeted at patients requiring exit permits and demands that official bodies responsible for supervising GSS policy and practices exert their authority to revoke the policy which renders departure from Gaza for medical treatment conditional on collaboration with the GSS at Erez Crossing.
Hadas Ziv, Director of PHR: “It is incredibly dangerous for any democratic nation when a secret agency known to use unorthodox methods is allowed to operate without proper supervision or criticism. The silence of the High Court of Justice, the Legal Advisor to the Government and other official bodies implicates them as partners to the Shabac’s cynical use of patients.”
For more information:
Libby Friedlander 054-245-7682
THE LETTER: DOCTORS - PLEASE SIGN THIS LETTER VIA E-MAIL ADDRESS BELOW
Dear WMA Council Chair Dr Edward Hill and the Council
We the undersigned physicians from X countries wish to publicly protest and appeal against the recent appointment of Dr Yoram Blachar, longstanding President of the Israeli Medical Association, as President of the World Medical Association. We believe that his Presidency makes a mockery of the principles on which the WMA was founded in 1947, which was as a response to egregious abuses by German and Japanese doctors in World War Two.
The WMA’s own Declaration of Tokyo (1975) specifies that “physicians shall not countenance, condone or participate in the practice of torture or other forms of cruel, inhuman or degrading procedures, and in all situations, including armed conflict and civil conflict”. The WMA Annual General Assembly of 2007 made it clear that inaction was not an option, stating that “this is the first time the WMA has explicitly obliged doctors to document cases of torture of which they become aware. The absence of documenting and denouncing such acts might be considered as a form of tolerance and of non-assistance to the victims”.(1) There are still more recent calls from authoritative academic sources for the international medical community to go much further in actively allying itself with efforts to suppress mistreatment of prisoners. (2)
Amnesty International concluded as long ago as 1996 that Israeli doctors working with the security services “formed part of a system in which detainees are tortured, ill treated and humiliated in ways that place prison medical practice in conflict with medical ethics”. (3) Dr Blachar, already IMA President, took no action. Amnesty’s briefing to the UN Committee against Torture in September 2008 “focuses on Amnesty International’s (continuing) concerns about Israel’s failure to implement the Convention against Torture in the Occupied Palestinian Territories and the intensification of measures amounting to cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment and punishment”.(4)
A well publicised report in 2007 by the Public Committee Against Torture in Israel (PCATI), based on the detailed testimony of 9 Palestinian men tortured between 2004 and 2006, gives a graphic demonstration of the extent to which Israeli doctors continue to form an integral and everyday part of the running of interrogation suites whose output is torture. (5) The IMA have conceded that they were aware of this report, but did nothing. More recently, at a meeting on December 10 2008 in Tel Aviv, with Dr Blachar presiding only weeks after his inauguration as WMA President, Physicians for Human Rights Israel again sought to confront the IMA about this and similar evidence in the public domain.
In its 2008 annual report to the UN Committee Against Torture, the UAT Coalition, a coalition of 14 Israeli and Palestinian human rights organisations, concluded that “since the Committee last reviewed Israel, the practice of torture and ill treatment has continued unabated. The UAT Coalition wishes to inform the Committee that in its opinion the use of torture and ill treatment by Israeli authorities against Palestinians is both widespread and systematic. The UAT Coalition has recorded evidence of acts, omissions and complicity by agents of the State at all levels….until this culture of impunity is addressed this situation is unlikely to improve”.(6)
In November 2008, PCATI filed a contempt of court motion to the High Court of Justice against the government of Israel and the General Security Service for their responsibility for a policy that grants a-priori permits to use torture in interrogations. The IMA have never challenged torture as state policy in Israel.
Dr Blachar went as far as to justify the use in Israel of “moderate physical pressure” (condemned as torture by the UN Committee Against Torture) in the fourth paragraph of a letter published in the international medical journal The Lancet in 1997 (7) This surely unprecedented action by the president of a national medical association has not been disowned, and renders him unfit for the office of WMA President. In the age of evidence-based medicine his rejection of the documentary record has been unprofessional and frequently contemptuous, as when on the British Medical Journal website he labelled as “the lies and filth he spews” and “anti-semitic” a BMJ publication which cited Amnesty, Johns Hopkins University, the International Court of Justice, a UN Rapporteur and Physicians for Human Rights Israel. (8) IMA membership of WMA appears to have been a figleaf: The IMA website pays lip service to medical ethics but Dr Blachar has overseen a studied failure to take the actions mandated by the Declaration of Tokyo.
We conclude that under Dr Blachar’s leadership the IMA made a decision on political grounds years ago to turn a blind eye to torture in Israel and the institutionalised involvement of doctors. On an issue that goes to the heart of the moral authority of the profession, Dr Blachar has offered shameful ethical leadership to doctors in Israel and worldwide.
It could scarcely be more scandalous that he now assumes the Presidency of the official international body overseeing medical ethics. This appointment will seriously damage the public reputation of the WMA and its work, and indeed risks making it a laughing stock. We call upon the WMA Council to oblige Dr Blachar to step down as a matter of priority. Since the WMA is mandated to ensure that its member associations conform to its codes, we also request an investigation into the IMA record highlighted above.
(50 by 22.00 hrs 2 February 2009)
1 World Medical Association. Doctors urged to document cases of torture. Press Release 8 Oct 2007.
2 Miles S, Freedman A. Medical ethics and torture: revising the Declaration of Tokyo. Lancet 2009: 373:344-48.
3 Amnesty International. “Under constant medical supervision”, torture, ill-treatment and the health professions in Israel and the Occupied Territories. London. Amnesty International. MDE 15/37/96. 1996.
4 Amnesty International. Israel/OPT. Briefing to the Committee Against Torture. MDE 15/040/2008. 2008.
5 Public Committee Against Torture in Israel. Ticking Bombs- testimonies of torture victims in Israel. PCATI 2007.
6 Defence for Children International. Palestine Section. UAT Report: Torture and ill-treatment in Israel and the OPT. 2008.
7 Blachar Y. The truth about Israeli medical ethics. Lancet 1997;350: 1247.
8 Blachar Y. Response from the Israeli Medical Association. Rapid Responses, bmj.com, 15 December 2004
Report Confirms Torture at Guantanamo
December 10, 2008
Last month, a consortium of human-rights groups from the University of California at Berkeley released a report entitled Guantanamo and Its Aftermath: U.S. Detention and Interrogation Practices and Their Impact on Detainees [pdf]. Its 136 pages prove in dispassionate prose allegations that Americans passionately debate: the U.S. government imprisoned mostly innocent men, without trial or criminal charges, at its prison in Guantanamo Bay, abused a great many of them, and tortured some.
Because a notoriously left-wing university sponsored the report, apologists for the Bush administration may dismiss it. They do so unjustly. Studies of human beings and an event's "impact" on them can never be purely objective, but this investigation comes as close as possible to pursuing and distilling the truth. For that we can thank its rigorous methodology, scrupulous reporting, and a style "devoid of rhetoric," as "the Honorable Patricia M. Wald" says in her forward.
Link provided by Mary Bedforth
Israel Medical Association: response to Derek Summerfield
Yoram Blachar President, Israel Medical Association, RamatGan, Israel 30 January 2003
Derek Summerfield once again has succeeded in imposing his simplistic view of good versus evil on your readership.1 I am genuinely pleased that Summerfield does not live in a country under the constant siege of terror, and thus does not need to grapple with complex ethical issues, but can merely dictate to others his standard of exemplary behaviour.
Torture is abhorrent and the IMA in no way endorses it. The IMA was, and remains, a signatory to the Declaration of Tokyo. Similarly, the Israeli Supreme Court banned the use of physical pressure during interrogations in 1999, and the IMA stands firmly behind the law. Even before this decision, the IMA always unequivocally stated that no doctors should be involved in torture. This last fact leads us to conclude that Summerfield is deliberately blurring the lines between Israeli government policy and the IMA's role in monitoring the conduct of its members.
Volume 361, Issue 9355, 1 February 2003, Page 424
What is the WMA for? The case of the Israeli Medical Association
Derek Summerfield Institute of Psychiatry, De Crespigny Park, London SE5 8AB, UK
The then Head of Ethics of the Israeli Medical Association (IMA), Eran Dolev, gave an interview on Nov 25, 1999, to a four-member delegation from the Medical Foundation for the Care of Victims of Torture, London, UK, headed by the director, Helen Bamber. During the interview, Dolev stated that “a couple of broken fingers” during the interrogation of Palestinian men was a price worth paying for information. Imagine if the Head of Ethics of the British Medical Association (BMA) had said this in relation to police or army interrogations in Northern Ireland.
Dolev's admission crystallised a position that campaigners had inferred from the IMA's silence over many years on the use of torture in Israel.1 In 1996, Amnesty International concluded that Israeli doctors working with the security services “form part of a system in which detainees are tortured, ill-treated and humiliated in ways that place prison medical practice in conflict with medical ethics”.2 Amnesty also pointed to Israeli government statements that detainees were “under constant medical supervision”.2 The IMA took no action, though they have elsewhere stated that they would investigate if irregular behaviour by an individual doctor was reported to them. This stance is disingenuous: the problem is not isolated malpractice (and who would report this anyway, since the word of Palestinian detainees is discounted by the IMA who have never responded to local testimonies), but institutionalised practice—as Amnesty has made clear. The IMA have long been impervious to discreet appeals made to them from organisations such as Physicians for Human Rights (USA) and Amnesty.
5 November 2008 Derek Summerfield writes to say the long standing President of the IMA, Yoram Blachar, becomes President of the World Med Assoc. It had escaped The Medical Committee for Boycott of the Israeli Medical Association (IMA) that he had been President-elect of the WMA.
For those familiar with the role Blachar has played over many years, for him to become President of the official international watchdog on medical ethics is an event beyond satire, as when Henry Kissinger was awarded the Nobel Prize for Peace. Next thing Donald Rumsfeld is going to pop up as the head of Amnesty International...
Just for openers, the1975 Declaration of Tokyo, which forbids doctors to participate or collude with torture, is a WMA document. Yet Blachar is on record in no less than the Lancet as supporting the use of “moderate physical pressure” (the Israeli euphemism for torture, and condemned as torture by the UN Committee on Torture). This is not something you see everyday in an international medical journal from the head of a national medical association (Blachar Y. The truth about Israeli medical ethics. Lancet 1997;350:1247) . He has played a consistent and trusty role over many years in batting away approaches from both Israeli organisations (PHR-I, Public Committee Against Torture) and international ones (Amnesty, Human Rights Watch, various UN agencies, aid agencies like Medecins Sans Frontieres etc) regarding the extent of documentation in the public realm about the everyday collusion by Israeli doctors with torture as state policy.
He has refused to condemn the systematic violations of the Fourth Geneva Convention being applied in the siege of Gaza- those sections that guarantee a civilian population unimpeded access to materials and services vital to life, including health services, and which guarantee immunity to health professionals as they work. A morally abhorrent track record of quite unusual clarity.
The WMA is there to address the violations of medical ethics to which I and others have been pointing for years, but it has of course long since been sewn up. That was what Blachar was there for, I am afraid. As I have written before, when the official and ‘normal’ channels do not function or will not function, we can either give up or move on to other approaches. This is where our calls for a boycott of the IMA, and indeed the whole academic boycott campaign, come in.
On the other hand he and the IMA arguably now present a bigger target.
David Halpin suggests this article is read for a picture of the torment of a whole population.
When is the doctor a doctor? And when is he a citizen?
It's been more than a decade since British psychiatrist Derek Summerfield called for a medical academic boycott of Israel. Growing up in South Africa during apartheid, the child of a Zimbabwean Afrikana mother and British father, he knows all too well what racial discrimination and segregation means. He lived it.
Even before visiting the Palestinian territories towards the end of the first Intifada (1987-1992), where he saw for himself Israel's systematic and institutionalised torture of Palestinians, Summerfield "had always been angry at Israel".
"Watching the behaviour of young Israeli soldiers towards an elderly Palestinian man on my first day in Jerusalem at a checkpoint felt very familiar," he says. "I'd seen this in South Africa where I grew up."
4 Aug 2008
PHR-Israel published a new report on August 4, 2008 entitled: "Holding Health to Ransom: GSS Interrogation and Extortion of Palestinian Patients at Erez Crossing". Testimonies in the report reveal: GSS (Shabac) demands cooperation as a precondition for exiting Gaza for medical care In defiance of the UN Convention Against Torture, the GSS is attempting to systematically use sick patients as informers.
Since July 2007, PHR has received 32 testimonies from Gazan patients, whose exit from Gaza was prevented after refusing to cooperate with GSS interrogators at the Erez Crossing. Since October 2007, some of the Palestinian patients with referrals for medical treatment outside of Gaza are required to undergo a GSS interrogation as an integral part of the decision-making process regarding their request for an exit permit.
In a new report released on August 4th, Physicians for Human Rights-Israel (PHR-Israel) has exposed that the General Security Service (GSS- Shabac), who make the final decisions regarding exit permits, are targeting sick patients as potential collaborators, making informing and cooperation with the GSS a pre-condition for exiting Gaza. This practice constitutes a violation of The Fourth Geneva Convention and the UN Convention Against Torture, as well as criminal law.
For the first time in the report Holding Health to Ransom, Palestinian patients testify as to the process they undergo when attempting to exit Gaza for medical treatment. Eleven detailed first-person testimonies of patients who were subjected to interrogation and pressure are included in the report.
Torture coalition demands investigation into death of PA detainee
Report, United Against Torture Coalition, 3 March 2008 in Electronic Intifada
Torture coalition demands investigation into death of PA detainee
Majd al-Barghouti died on 22 February, while he was being illegally detained by the General Intelligence Service (GIS) of the Palestinian Authority (PA) in Ramallah. The forensic medical report, ordered by the Palestinian Attorney General, calls the sudden death "natural" and lists the cause of death as heart failure, due to an abnormally enlarged heart. Although the report states that there were no signs of violence on any part of the body, it notes that there were dark colored marks on his arms, right knee and right thigh, "which were not related to the cause of death." There is evidence "including photographs" indicating that prior to his death, Sheikh Majid 'Abdul 'Aziz Mustafa al-Barghouti, 44 years old, was subjected to torture and ill-treatment. He might also have been a victim of medical negligence during his detention. The United Against Torture (AUT) Coalition expresses its deep concern over the sudden death of al-Barghouti, as well as his illegal detention, which is part of an ongoing wave of mass arrests and illegal detentions being carried out by the PA. The UAT Coalition strongly supports the establishment of an independent investigation committee to examine the circumstances surrounding Majid al-Barghouti's death. We also call for the mandate of the investigation committee to be expanded to include Mr. Barghouti's illegal detention, as well as the illegal detention of large numbers of other Palestinian citizens.
According to reports, Majid al-Barghouti was arrested on 14 February, eight days prior to his death. Two civilian cars with Palestinian license plates entered Koubar village, outside of Ramallah, and four masked men confronted al-Barghouti when he emerged from the local mosque, where he served as Imam. When al-Barghouti called for help, one of the men identified himself as an officer of the Palestinian General Intelligence Service and took al-Barghouti to GIS headquarters in the north of al-Bireh for interrogation. He was not brought before judicial authorities within 24 hours of his arrest, as required by Palestinian Penal Law. No visits were permitted to Majd al-Barghouti throughout his detention.
Posted: 05 Jul 2008 03:36 AM CDT
Iqbal Tamimi and I urge you to please write to the addresses below to ask for formal investigation on an incident of torture of a child by Israeli soldiers who stormed his house. Abuse and torture is always wrong, but to do it to a child is absolutely evil and cannot remain unchallenged. Not only was he physically and psychologically abused, his family was strip searched, humiliated and their possessions were destroyed. Can we just sit and watch something like this? Can normalisation with Israel happen when something like this IS normal??
Name: Ezzat H
Age at incident: 10
Date of incident: 11 June 2008
Location: Sanniriya, Qalqiliya
A 10-year-old boy was subjected to physical abuse amounting to torture for 2.5 hours by Israeli soldiers who stormed his family’s shop on 11 June, seeking information on the location of a handgun. The boy was repeatedly beaten, slapped and punched in the head and stomach, forced to hold a stress position for half and hour, and threatened. He was deeply shocked and lost two molar teeth as a result of the assault.
On Wednesday 11 June 2008, at around 10:30am, 10-year-old Ezzat, his brother Makkawi (7) and sister Lara (8) were in their father’s shop selling animal feed and eggs in the village of Sanniriya, near the West Bank city of Qalqiliya. The children were suddenly startled to see two Israeli soldiers storm in to the shop.
Interrogation and abuse in the shop
One soldier wearing a black T-shirt started shouting in a loud, menacing voice in Arabic, “your father sent us to you to collect his gun”. A terrified Ezzat responded, “My father does not own a gun”. The soldier responded by slapping Ezzat hard across the right cheek and his brother Makawi across his face. The soldier then ordered Makkawi and Lara to leave the shop. Once the younger children had left the soldier demanded once again that Ezzat hand over his father’s gun. Although Ezzat repeated that his father did not own a gun the soldier ordered him to search for it in the sacks containing the animal feed. Ezzat kept insisting that there was no gun in the shop so the soldier slapped him once again, this time across his left cheek.
One of Ezzat’s friends, realising that something was wrong, tried to enter the shop but was kicked by the soldier standing at the door and prevented from entering. Soon a group of local people had gathered outside the shop. Some of the people in the group also tried to enter the shop but were prevented from doing so by the soldier at the door.
The soldier in the black T-shirt asked him once again to produce the gun. Ezzat answered, “We do not have anything”. The soldier responded by punching him hard in the stomach causing Ezzat to fall over on to empty egg boxes. Ezzat started screaming and crying out from pain and fear. The soldier in the black T-shirt started making fun of Ezzat and imitated him crying. Ezzat remained in the shop alone with the soldiers for a further 15 minutes when the soldier in black abruptly grabbed him by his T-shirt and dragged him out of the shop. Ezzat asked the soldier if he could lock up his father’s shop but the soldier said he wanted it to remain open so that it could be robbed. The soldier also threatened to put Ezzat in his jeep and take him away.
Once they were out of the shop, Ezzat was ordered to walk in front of the soldiers to his house, whilst a gun was pointed at his back. The soldiers hit him several times on the nape along the way. On approaching his house Ezzat saw many Israeli military officials surrounding the house and a number of green military vehicles parked outside. One of the olive coloured jeeps had the word “police” written on it.
Interrogation and abuse in the home
After arriving at the family’s home the soldier in the black T-shirt stood Ezzat in the yard and ordered him to search the flower basin for the gun. Before Ezzat had a chance to respond the soldier slapped him so violently that Ezzat fell down face first into the basin. Without giving him the chance to stand up the soldier grabbed him by his T-shirt and lifted him up roughly. He was then instructed in Arabic by another soldier to head to the guestroom.
On approaching the guestroom Ezzat could see his father standing by the door. The soldier slapped him on the neck and Ezzat fell to the ground. As Ezzat stood up the soldier slapped him a second time making him fall to the ground once again. All this happened in front of his father. He then grabbed Ezzat by his T-shirt and lifted him in to the air. The soldier told Ezzat’s father that he was going to take his son to prison. He also threatened to take Ezzat’s 19-year-old sister to prison. Ezzat was then pushed forcibly in to the guest room where his mother and four of his other siblings including his sisters Diana (19), Raghda (18), (Aya) 15 and brother Jihad (3), were being held. His mother was crying. Ezzat was also crying and when asked by his mother why he was crying, he said it was because he had been hit by the soldiers. His mother asked the soldiers to stop beating her son and to beat her instead.
After several minutes Ezzat was taken out of the guest room and slapped several times by the soldier in black, once so hard that he fell to the ground. After being moved to several locations in the house Ezzat was told to stay in the boys’ bedroom. The same soldier then left the room but would return every five minutes to slap Ezzat and also to punch him several times in the stomach. Each time this took place Ezzat would shout and scream out in pain and burst in to tears. The soldier would then imitate him and make fun of him. The soldier hit him around six times.
Destruction of property and use of stress positions
A short time later, five soldiers entered the room and proceeded to destroy the family’s property using hammers. In all, the soldiers destroyed wooden ventilation panels in the attic, a small refrigerator in the bedroom and it contents, damage to the kitchen, a fan and the fireplace.
Ezzat spent one hour in the bedroom alone with the soldiers. In that hour he was ordered by the same soldier to stand on one foot for half an hour, with his back against the wall and with both his hands lifted up in the air (see picture). Ezzat was exhausted by this but was too scared to put his foot down on the ground. Eventually he was told by one of the other soldiers that he could put his foot down. He was then asked to sit down in a squat position. He managed to remain in this position for two minutes and then had to stand up. A female soldier then walked in to the room and asked him to sit on the refrigerator box.
Shortly after the soldier in the black T-shirt returned accompanied by Ezzat’s older sister Diana. He proceeded to ask Ezzat whether he cared for his sister to which Ezzat responded, “Yes I do”. The soldier then asked him to tell him where the gun was hidden and that if he told him where it was hidden that he would not tell Ezzat’s father. The soldier left the room with Ezzat’s sister. He then returned to the room on his own and hit Ezzat all over his body. He left the room once again and after a while came back offering Ezzat 10 Shekels in return for telling him where the gun was. Ezzat responded that he did not care about money. This made the soldier extremely angry and he took off his helmet and started throwing it at Ezzat from two metres away. Ezzat was in extreme pain. The soldier continued to hit him with the helmet and then left the room once again returning to slap him across his face and on his stomach. This continued for some time with the soldier leaving the room and returning to hit Ezzat and to question him over the gun.
Interrogation of family
Ezzat then witnessed the soldier in the black T-shirt and the female soldier leading his sisters and mother to one of the rooms close to the boys’ bedroom. They closed the door of the room but Ezzat could hear the soldiers shouting at them. He overheard the soldier telling the female soldier to hit his mother because she was refusing to take her clothes off to be searched. After the incident was over Ezzat’s sister informed him that they were all strip searched by the female soldier, while the male soldier waited outside.
Meanwhile, a soldier wearing black sunglasses entered the bedroom in which Ezzat was being held. He walked in pointing a rifle, a few centimetres away from Ezzat’s head. Ezzat was so terrified that he began to shiver. The soldier laughed and made fun of him. He asked Ezzat to tell him where the gun was and threatened to shoot him if he didn’t. Ezzat continued to maintain that there was no weapon hidden away. The soldier, getting agitated shouted at Ezzat, “for the last time, tell me where the gun is before I shoot you”. Ezzat repeated that he did not have a gun. Hearing this, the soldier lowered his rifle and left the room. After about five minutes the soldier in the black T-shirt entered the room along with four other soldiers and said that they were leaving but would return.
The soldiers spent two and half hours in the house in total. After the incident Ezzat spent the night at his uncle’s house because he was too scared to sleep in his home. As a result of the physical assault Ezzat lost two of his molar teeth and is deeply shocked by the incident.
DCI/PS is appalled that Israeli authorities would subject a 10-year-old child to beatings, position abuse and threats over the course of several hours. The treatment of Ezzat falls within the definition of torture and other acts of cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment as defined in the UN Convention Against Torture, to which Israel is a State Party. The treatment of Ezzat also infringes numerous other international conventions to which Israel is bound, as well as Israeli military and domestic law.
DCI/PS again calls on Israel to immediately ensure its compliance with the UN Convention Against Torture and to thoroughly and impartially investigate the allegations of torture and abuse of Ezzat and bring those found responsible for such abuse to justice.
DCI/PS also calls on the EU to make the upgrade of EU-Israel bilateral relations conditional upon measurable and confirmed progress by Israel to uphold the EU human rights standards in the Occupied Palestinian Territory.
1. Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948) – article 5; Fourth Geneva Convention (1949) – articles 27 and 31 International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (1966) – article 7; and the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (1989) – articles 2(2), 3, 16 and 37(a).
2. Israeli military law establishes the specific offence of “ill treatment” which prohibits the beating or other abuse of any person in a soldier’s custody: see Military Adjudication Law, 5715-1955, Article 65. See also articles 378-382 of the Israeli penal code.
From Palestine Think Tank