World News

Palestinians Describe Torture and Abuse in Israeli Detention Center

The Sde Teiman military base in southern Israel has been the center of controversy following a report alleging widespread mistreatment and torture of Palestinian detainees. Since October 7, the base has reportedly detained approximately 4,000 Palestinians from Gaza, with some held for up to three months before being released or transferred into Israel’s prison system. Around 1,200 of these detainees have been released back into Gaza after being identified as civilians.

Despite their civilian status, many of these individuals underwent interrogations consistent with practices of torture, according to a report by the New York Times (NYT). Seven former detainees, whose detention was verified by the Israeli military, described forms of torture being widespread at the base. These allegations include repeated beatings during interrogations or for minor infractions, such as peeking under blindfolds or sleeping when not permitted.

Israeli soldiers speaking to the NYT corroborated these accounts of beatings, with some admitting that colleagues boasted about the beatings. At least one person reportedly died as a result of being beaten. Since October 7, at least 35 Palestinians have died at the base, although Israeli officers denied that these deaths were a result of abuse.

Other forms of torture reported by former detainees include the use of loud music to prevent detainees from sleeping and the use of electrocution in interrogations. One detainee reported that blood trickled from his ear as a result of the loud music, while others passed out from the electrocution. Some detainees were even forced to sit on metal rods fixed to the ground.

Younis Al-Hamlawi, a senior nurse at Gaza’s Al-Shifa Hospital, gave a harrowing account of his experience at the facility. He claimed that a female officer ordered two soldiers to lift him up and press his rectum against a metal stick fixed to the ground, causing him unbearable pain and bleeding. Al-Hamlawi also reported being shocked by electricity so often that he initially urinated uncontrollably, then stopped urinating for several days.

The Israeli military, in a statement to the NYT, denied the allegations of “systemic abuse” at Sde Teiman, stating that such action is “strictly prohibited”. They suggested that the accounts of detainees were inaccurate or unfounded, possibly pressured by Hamas. Israel announced plans to phase out the use of the base as a detention facility, with detainees being transferred to other prisons.

Since October 7, Israel’s war on Gaza has resulted in the death of 36,731 Palestinians, with a further 83,530 wounded. Israel has also detained thousands of Palestinians since the beginning of its ground assault, including medical personnel and journalists. Diaa al-Kahlout, the Gaza bureau chief for The New Arab’s Arabic-language sister site, Al-Araby Al-Jadeed, was among those detained. During his 33 days in Israeli custody, Kahlout reported being interrogated about his journalism and subjected to physical and psychological mistreatment.

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