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Palestinian expert says Israeli torture of Palestinian prisoners is 'routine'

Nov. 23, 2008 2:25 P.M. (Updated: Nov. 23, 2008 2:25 P.M.)
Ramallah - Ma'an - It came as no surprise to Abdun-Nasser Farawna when the Israeli newspaper Yedioth Ahronot published a report about a "top secret" Israeli intelligence document authorizing the use of torture against Palestinian prisoners.

Farawna, a former prisoner and an expert in prisoners' affairs, said torture "began in 1967 as a policy which later got legal coverage and judicial immunity. It aims at destroying Palestinian and Arab prisoners both physically and psychologically."

To Farawna, Israel's use of torture is neither secret nor new.

Farawna said the legalization of torture in Israel dates back at least to the report of a government commission headed by Supreme Court President Moshe Landau in 1987. Landau was charged with examining government interrogation techniques. His committee came up with a two-part report. One half of the report was kept secret and contained a list of permissible interrogation tactics.

According to Farawna, the Landau document protected Israeli intelligence officers from prosecution for torturing Palestinian prisoners. The recommendations in the document were approved by the Israeli Knesset, and have been amended since.

The central conclusion of the report, that "the exertion of a moderate degree of physical pressure cannot be avoided," has not been changed.

Farwana explains that the newly revealed Israeli document allows interrogators to use non-traditional techniques of physical and psychological torture, including slapping, violent shaking, hunger, sleep deprivation and forcing prisoners to stand for long periods.

According to the document, officers can also exert psychological pressure by accusing the prisoner of collaboration in front of other prisoners, or revealing confidential information about him. Interrogators can also arrest family members, including women, to place further pressure, or they can threaten to demolish his family home or deport him.

Farwana asserted that Israeli interrogators are still torturing Palestinian prisoners "on a daily basis."

According to Farawna's own research, 95% of Palestinians who have been imprisoned in Israel have been beaten; 89% were deprived of sleep for long times; 82% were forced to stand in difficult positions for long periods; 55% were subjected to extreme hot and cold temperatures; 50% had pressure applied to their testicles.

Furthermore, Farawna said that since 1967, 70 prisoners have died in Israeli custody as a result of torture.
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