Ministry: 70 prisoners killed in Israeli prisons since 1967

RAMALLAH (Ma’an) — Seventy Palestinians have been killed in Israeli jails since 1967, the Palestinian Authority Ministry of Detainee Affairs said Tuesday.

The ministry’s report, released to mark the International Day in Support of Victims of Torture, said 70 prisoners died “as a result of direct violence” by Israeli authorities.

The most recent victim of direct violence was Muhammad al-Ashqar, from Tulkarem, who was killed in Israel’s Negev prison in 2007. Al-Ashqar was shot dead aged 29 during a riot that erupted after Israeli prison authorities raided cells at night.

Meanwhile, 202 prisoners died shortly after they were released from Israeli jails, the ministry said.

It said 95 percent of Palestinian prisoners were tortured and beaten by Israeli forces.

Prisoners are “brutally tortured and assaulted from the moment of arrest and while they transferred to detention centers in military vehicles even before they know what they are accused of,” the report said.

“Torture and punishment have become a policy by the Israeli intelligence rather than an individual behavior practiced only by some interrogators as the Israeli authorities claim. Interrogators and soldiers are protected by the Israeli government,” the report added.

Israeli forces practice several kinds of torture against Palestinians, including beating them in front of their wives and children, attacking them while they are handcuffed and blindfolded, releasing dogs to attack them and threatening sexual assaults, the ministry said.

Meanwhile Israeli interrogators use several techniques to pressure detainees, segregating them by prohibiting visits by their families or lawyers and questioning them in windowless cells.

Interrogators also verbally and physically abuse detainees. Prisoners report being chained to chairs in hand and leg cuffs with sacks over their heads.

Detainees are also forced to strip naked during interrogations and spat at, the ministry said, adding that interrogators threaten to demolish their homes or detain their relatives if they don’t provide information.

Prisoners say Israeli prison authorities plant Palestinian collaborators in cells, known as “bird cells.”

Collaborators, who are working with Israeli intelligence, befriend detainees to seek information and sometimes adopt interrogators’ methods of intimidation to force prisoners to talk, the ministry said, adding that they are sometimes more violent than Israeli interrogators.

When prisoners complain of torture by collaborators, the issue is often dismissed as an internal issue between detainees, the ministry said.
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