Palestinian minors remember ordeal

Palestinian minors remember ordeal
Sat Aug 24, 2013 16:49:45

Palestinian minors in Israeli detention centers break news on their nightmare under interrogation.

Since November 2009, B’Tselem, an Israeli non-governmental organization (NGO) has received testimonies from dozens of Palestinian residents of the Bethlehem and al-Khalil (Hebron) districts, most of them minors, saying that they were subjected to threats and violence.

According to B’Tselem, sometimes amounting to torture during their interrogation at the police station at Gush Etzion, the minors were forced to make confession to alleged offences, mostly stone-throwing.

Once the interrogators managed to force the detainees to confess, interrogations were mostly stopped.

“The interrogator made me go into a room. He grabbed my head and started banging it against the wall. Then he punched me, slapped me and kicked my legs. The pain was immense, and I felt like I couldn’t stand any longer. Then he started swearing at me. He said filthy things about me and about my mother. He threatened to rape me, or perform sexual acts on me, if I didn’t confess to throwing stones. His threats really scared me, because he was very cruel and it was just the two of us in the room. I remembered what I’d seen on the news, when British and American soldiers raped and took photos of naked Iraqis,” M.H, a victim from Housan region whose full name was withheld said.

Until July 2013, B'Tselem field researchers collected 64 testimonies from residents of eight communities in the southern West Bank who reported such incidents. Fifty-six of them were minors at the time of their interrogation.

According to B’Tselem, the testimonies included severe physical violence during interrogation or questioning sessions which at times ended to tortures.

The violence committed by Israeli interrogators included slaps, punches and kicks to all parts of the body, and blows with objects, such as a gun or a stick.

Some of the former interrogatees also reported threats: in twelve cases, they claimed that the interrogator had threatened them or female relatives with sexual assault, such as rape and genital injury.

In six cases, the interrogatees claimed that the interrogators had threatened to execute them; in eight cases, the interrogators allegedly threatened to harm family members; and in five other cases, they allegedly threatened to electrocute the interrogatees, including in a way that would damage their fertility.

A dozen children said that the preliminary interrogations were carried by men in civilian clothes, and confessions were not recorded. When they confessed to stone-throwing, they were taken in another room and were interrogated by a police in uniform, and then their confessions were recorded.

Then, the minors were asked to sign a document in Hebrew, which even they couldn’t read and understand without knowing what they were signing.

From 2009 to 2013, B'Tselem sent 31 complaints to the Department for Investigation of Police (DIP) on behalf of Palestinians who reported they had been subjected to violence and threats by interrogators at the Etzion station.

In the rest of the cases that B'Tselem documented, the interrogatees or their families chose not to file a complaint with the DIP, for fear that this would result in harm to members of the family who had already been interrogated or to other relatives, or because of a general lack of trust in the Israeli justice system.


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