Torture in Israel
Besides the fact that it is illegally occupying Palestinian land, oppressing millions of Palestinians, treating non-Jewish citizens as second-class citizens, and continuously violating international law, the "only democracy in the Middle East" has one more policy to be proud of: the systematic use of torture against Palestinian prisoners.
The detention and long term imprisonment of Palestinians in Israeli prisons is a common daily ritual for the Israeli Occupying Forces (IOF). Every Palestinian family has experienced the arrest of a father, brother, husband, or cousin. With or without evidence, "administrative detention" is a common occurrence. Once the individual has been detained, the chances that they won't be tortured are very slim.
Although Israel has signed & ratified the UN Convention Against Torture in 1991, it is considered one of the states "which have made a declaration, under Article 28, that they do not recognize the competence of the Committee against Torture to investigate allegations of widespread torture within their boundaries." In fact, being a signatory of this convention did not stop Israel from continuing its policy of torture throughout its prison system. Israel's General Security Service, or Shin Bet as it is commonly known, argued that its practices were permissible under some circumstances, and "did not amount to torture." The UN Convention, however, makes it clear that torture cannot be justified under any circumstances:
No exceptional circumstances whatsoever, whether a state of war or a threat or war, internal political instability or any other public emergency, may be invoked as a justification of torture. (Article 2b).B'Tselem, the Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories, notes this on torture in Israel:
For years, torture was commonly used in General Security Service interrogations. After the Landau Commission made its recommendations, in 1987, the GSS interrogated at least 850 Palestinians a year by means of torture. The methods included violent shaking, binding the detainees in painful positions, and covering their head with a foul-smelling sack. All governmental authorities, from the IDF to the Supreme Court, took part in approving torture, in developing new methods, and in supervising them.A 1994 report by Human Rights Watch noted the following about torture policies in Israel:
Israel's two main interrogation agencies in the occupied territories engage in a systematic pattern of ill-treatment and torture - according to internationally recognized definitions of the terms - when trying to extract from Palestinian security suspects confessions or information about third parties.
The overriding strategy of Israel's interrogation agencies in getting uncooperative detainees to talk is to subject them to a coordinated, rigid and increasingly painful regime of physical constraints and psychological pressures over days and very often for three or four weeks, during which time the detainees are, almost without exception, denied visits by their lawyers and families. These measures seriously taint the voluntariness of the confessions that they help to bring about, and therefore, compromise the fundamental fairness of the military courts that try Palestinians in the occupied territories.
The methods used in nearly all interrogations are prolonged sleep deprivation; prolonged sight deprivation using blindfolds or tight-fitting hoods; forced, prolonged maintenance of body positions that grow increasingly painful; and verbal threats and insults.
These methods are almost always combined with some of the following abuses: confinement in tiny, closet-like spaces; exposure to temperature extremes, such as in deliberately overcooled rooms; prolonged toilet and hygiene deprivation; and degrading treatment, such as forcing detainees to eat and use the toilet at the same time. In a large number of cases, detainees are also moderately or severely beaten by their interrogators.
In a report to the UN Committee on Torture in 1998, HRW again noted the lack of progress in Israeli prisons: