Palestinians arrested by Israel from the Gaza Strip were tortured (Reuters)

The Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Monitor said that it had received new testimonies about Palestinian detainees from the Gaza Strip - including women and children - being subjected to severe torture and treatment that degrades human dignity, including nudity and sexual harassment or the threat thereof, calling for urgent international action to stop these violations.

The Observatory explained that its teams received testimonies from a group of detainees who were released during the past few days, after spending various periods of detention in which they spoke about their exposure to harsh practices, which included beating them in a “brutal and retaliatory” manner, releasing dogs at them, ghosting them for long hours, and stripping them of their clothes in a manner that detains them. Completely, depriving them of food and going to the bathroom.

The Observatory indicated that the most dangerous testimonies it received were female detainees being subjected to direct sexual harassment, explaining that a number of female detainees reported that “Israeli soldiers harassed them, including placing their hands on private parts, and forcing them to strip naked and remove their hijab.”

The Observatory added that the soldiers also directed threats of rape and indecent assault to female detainees, men and their families, as part of a process of torture and blackmail to force them to provide information about others.

The Observatory said that the report published by the Israeli media about the detention facility where Palestinians from the Gaza Strip are held “indicates its recognition of systematic torture and its disregard for human rights conventions that criminalize torture.”

The Euro-Mediterranean Observatory indicated that this report showed detainees being shackled and forced to sit on the ground in a humiliating position in the middle of an iron cage similar to the cages in which animals are held, in line with what was previously announced by Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Galant that the Palestinians in Gaza are being treated as... "animals".

Shocking testimonies

"M.N" (70 years old - who requested to remain anonymous) said: "They arrested me from my home in the Al-Amal neighborhood, west of Khan Yunis. 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 felt like I was being used as a shield." Humanly, they later arrested more and took us through a harsh torture journey to a detention center consisting of an iron cage.”

He added, "Every day we were beaten and insulted. We did not drink water inside the prison for 4 days. They poured water on the ground in front of us, until they tortured us while we were thirsty. All the time we sat on our knees, ate little, and went to the bathroom once, and the ghost repeatedly fell on the fence and tied up." "Hands up."

As for “KHN,” he said, “They arrested me at the checkpoint and forced me to take off my clothes. I was severely beaten. We were covered with blankets filled with water. We were unnaturally cold and did not drink water.” He continued, "The army transferred us to another place. We were subjected to different tortures. Each place had a different torture process. The officer would hit me on the head, and when I complained, he would hit me more. I could not sleep because of the cold."

M.W. said: “They arrested me from Beit Lahia, forced me to completely undress, detained me in the open with severe beatings, ransacked my body with their hands, and hung me by my legs from the ceiling. I was subjected to shabeh for 4 to 6 hours a day.” He added: "They threatened to rape my family, and asked for information that I did not know. They were forcing us to insult certain factions and personalities and to cheer for Israel, and to say that the dog that is allowed to maul us is the crown of our head."

“G” reported: “They arrested me at the checkpoint on the Salah al-Din Road during my displacement. They asked me to go to a sand berm, where they put a blindfold on my eyes, searched me with their hands, and asked me about Hamas and the tunnels. Then they moved me to an open place, then they took me to a detention center. They forced me to I took off my clothes. There were soldiers looking and making mean comments. They gave me only “tring” (home clothes) and no underwear to wear.”

She added: "In detention, I was subjected to interrogation several times. Each time before that, I was stripped naked by female soldiers who would put their hands on me and crowd me, and the soldiers would sometimes look and comment. There were harsh insults that I could not say, and threats of indecent assault."

Forced disappearance

The Observatory said that Israeli forces continue to forcibly hide detainees and subject them to torture and brutal violence from the moment of arrest until the moment of release for some of them.

He recalled that human rights organizations - including Israeli ones - tried to obtain information about detainees from Gaza, but their requests were rejected by the Israeli authorities, and it became clear that detainees from Gaza are being held in new detention centers set up by the Israeli army in various places in the Negev and Jerusalem. In addition to the crime of enforced disappearance, detainees are subjected to severe forms of torture, abuse, and deprivation of food and water.

The Observatory indicated that the Israeli army detains detainees for long days without a clear reason, subjects them to harsh treatment that degrades their dignity, and deliberately humiliates them, in addition to forcing them to chant for Israel, and insult and curse Palestinian factions and figures.

He confirmed that some detainees were subjected to bargaining and blackmail operations in order to cooperate with the army and the Israeli Shin Bet in exchange for alleviating their torture or obtaining some what were called privileges and their release.

He pointed out that there is no accurate number of detainees from Gaza, while the Israeli occupation army recently announced that the number of detainees is 2,300, while estimates indicate that the number of detainees - based on the testimonies of those released - is much greater than that, and amounts to several thousand.

The Observatory indicated that the “Sde Teman” camp, which is run by the Israeli army, and is located between the cities of Beersheba and Gaza, and where the majority of detainees from the Gaza Strip are held, “has been transformed into a new Guantánamo prison in which the dignity of detainees is violated and the worst forms of torture and abuse are practiced against them while depriving them of Food and treatment.

war crimes

The Euro-Mediterranean Observatory stated that it had received previous testimonies about the death of two detainees inside the “Sde Teman” camp, one of whom had an amputated foot, and Israel did not officially announce their death.

The Observatory called on Israel to immediately reveal the fate of the forcibly disappeared detainees, including revealing their names and whereabouts, and to bear its full responsibilities towards their safety and immediately stop torture and ill-treatment.

The Observatory stressed that Israel’s practice of these brutal attacks against Palestinian detainees amounts to “committing the crime of torture and inhuman treatment, which are crimes that fall within the scope of war crimes and crimes against humanity,” according to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court.

The Observatory noted that “these violations come in the context of the crime of genocide committed by Israel” in the Gaza Strip since October 7th.

The Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Monitor called on the International Committee of the Red Cross to assume its responsibilities and verify the conditions of Palestinian detainees in Israeli prisons and the conditions of their detention.

He also urged the UN rapporteur on the issue of torture and the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention to conduct an immediate and impartial investigation into the circumstances of the death of all detainees who died in Israeli prisons since Israel began its war on the Gaza Strip, and to take appropriate steps to hold those responsible accountable and provide justice to the victims.

Source: Al Jazeera