Information transmitted to the Government
352. By letter dated 26 August 1993 the Special Rapporteur informed the Government that he had received information according to which the practice of torture in military interrogation centres still persisted. Methods included severe beating, hooding, prolonged handcuffing, tying in painful positions, confinement in tiny and airless spaces, electric shocks, sleep deprivation, exposure to extreme temperatures and prolonged solitary confinement.
353. Another prevailing complaint concerned the lack of access to medical facilities. Detainees who are in need of physical or mental health-care treatment are often denied access to doctors or are not allowed to receive medication. In addition, Israeli physicians and other medical personnel have allegedly been involved in certifying detainees' fitness to undergo some of the methods of interrogation reportedly used by the Israeli authorities; in examining and providing treatment to victims before allowing them to be returned to interrogation; and in covering up abuses by interrogators. The following individual cases were reported:
(a) Samir Omar, a 17-year-old from al-Shati' refugee camp in the Gaza Strip, died on 31 May 1992. He had been arrested on 13 May and detained in the interrogation section of Gaza central prison until 21 May. Upon release, he reportedly stated that during interrogation he had been hooded, kept in a very cold cell, deprived of food and forced to sit on a chair for four days. He also said that he had been beaten all over his body, including his genitals, and hit on the head with a hammer.
(b) Mustafa Mahmud Mustafa 'Abd al-Hadi Barakat, a resident of the West Bank village of Anabta, died on 4 August 1992 in the Tulkarm detention centre, about 36 hours after his arrest on 3 August. He reportedly died from an asthma attack brought about by the conditions of detention and interrogation, in particular the use of hooding. He was allegedly subjected to severe mistreatment, which led to his first attack of asthma in eight years.
(c) Ayman Sa'id Hasan Nassar was arrested on 20 March 1993 during a military operation in Deir al-Balah refugee camp in Gaza. He and three others were reportedly taken to the beach nearby, where they were allegedly kicked and beaten on the face and chest. Subsequently, they were taken to Ashkelon prison, where they were reportedly placed in solitary confinement and subjected to further beatings, prolonged shackling, hooding with dirty sacks and sleep deprivation, and prevented from using the toilet for several days. On 23 March Ayman Nassar was admitted to the intensive care unit in Barzalai hospital suffering from acute respiratory distress syndrome, but he died on 2 April.
(d) Husniyeh Abdel Qader, from the Balata refugee camp, was arrested on 9 April 1992. She was detained at the Kishon detention centre, where she was held in solitary confinement with her hands cuffed behind her back and her head in a dirty bag during the first four days of her detention. She was released on 14 September 1992.
(e) Hassan Badr 'Abdallah Zubeidi, from 'Anabta, Tulkarem district, was arrested on 25 September 1992 and during 33 days detained at Tulkarm and Far'a prisons. Since his release, Mr. Zubeidi, who had been in perfect health before his arrest, was said to suffer from "acute catatonia", a mental disorder associated with a near total lack of response or association with the outside world.
(f) Youssef Farahat, from the Nusseirat refugee camp, was arrested on 24 January 1992 and taken to the Gaza central prison. He was reportedly tortured, in particular by being placed in a cell called "the refrigerator" (a small and totally dark cell into which cold air is pumped through a single opening in the ceiling) for 10 to 15 hours a day.
(g) Ghazi Abdul Rahim Omar, a resident of the village of Algason, was arrested on 25 September 1992 and taken to the Tulkarm detention centre. On 3 November, his family was informed that Ghazi Omar was hospitalized at Ha'emek hospital in a serious condition because of a kidney problem, which seemed to have been caused by severe beatings.
(h) Nader Raji Qumsieh was arrested between 3 and 4 May 1993 at his home in Beit Sahur, in the West Bank, and taken to a military detention centre in Bethlehem. He remained in solitary confinement until 6 May, when he was reportedly moved to the Dhahiriyyah detention centre for interrogation. He sustained an injury to his scrotum while under interrogation, as was evident from his medical records. One medical report claimed that Nader Qumsieh said he had fallen downstairs, whereas he had repeatedly stated that he had been injured in Dhahiriyyah as a result of torture.
354. By the same letter the Special Rapporteur reminded the Government of a number of cases transmitted in 1992 regarding which no reply had been received.
355. The Special Rapporteur sent an urgent appeal to the Government on 16 July 1993 on behalf of Muhammad Ya'qub 'Abd al-Wader al-Nubani, a Palestinian from the village of Mazari' al-Nubani near Ramallah, who was reportedly arrested by Israeli forces in the town of Bir Zeit on 22 April 1993 and taken to the Ramallah prison. On 9 June 1993, he was said to have stated in an affidavit that he had been kept hooded for long periods, tied by the hands and feet and kept in a painful position on a low chair, and deprived of sleep. Fears were expressed that he might continue to be subjected to this kind of treatment.
Information received from the Government on cases included in previous reports
356. On 20 January 1993 the Government transmitted information on the case of I'taf Daoud Hussein I'Elian who, according to the information received by the Special Rapporteur, had been kept in an isolation cell at the Tel Mund central prison for three and a half years and denied medical care. The Government stated that neither physical punishment nor torture of any kind had been inflicted upon Ms. I'Elian at any time during her detention in the Prisons Service facility. Ms. I'Elian, a member of the terrorist organization known as the Islamic Jihad (Islamic Holy War), had refused to observe the rules and regulations governing the conduct of prison inmates. Nevertheless, there was no basis for the reports that she had been held in solitary confinement for three and a half years, or for any similarly extended period. In a periodic medical visit, Prisons Service doctors had diagnosed a deviated nasal septum and recommended an operation be carried out in the near future at a suitable hospital (Ms. I'Elian had undergone an earlier nasal operation about two years previously). Ms. I'Elian at one point proclaimed a hunger strike. However, daily medical examinations, which were customary in such cases, revealed the fact of her being fed in secret by her inmate colleagues. At this point the prisoner terminated her "hunger strike".
357. With regard to the code of medical ethics, the Government quoted the report issued by the Israeli Medical Association (No. 29962 of 13 September 1992):
(a) Representatives of the International Committee of the Red Cross regularly visit the prison and there have been no specific complaints;
(b) Ten inmates (among them Ms. I'Elian) agreed to be examined by a physician member of the Israeli Medical Association (not in the presence of the prison's medical team). In Ms. I'Elian's case, there were no medical findings other than a deviated septum.
(c) In its report, the Israeli Medical Association also noted the general conditions prevailing in the prison: the inmates were accommodated in rooms of six beds; the food was identical to that served to women-soldiers in the Israeli Defence Forces; and every room was equipped with a television set. The prison had a library providing inmates with reading material, as well as study material for those inmates wishing to prepare for academic examinations.
358. The Special Rapporteur notes that in the past two years the Government has so far only responded to one case, namely, one that was the basis of an urgent appeal. The Special Rapporteur is aware of the difficulties faced by the security forces during the prolonged occupation. He hopes recent political developments will materially affect the situation. Nevertheless, he is concerned about the numerous reports of ill-treatment frequently amounting to torture, as well as allegations of medical personnel involvement in procedures requiring them to certify prisoners as fit for interrogation where such treatment is used.