Israel Is Accused of Torturing a Prisoner Until His Ribs Were Broken

Now Palestinians Are Demanding Answers

“There’s no excuse for it. This is a war crime at the end of the day.”


An Israeli prison service vehicle leaves the court house in Petah Tikva, Israel, Sunday, July 6, 2014. (AP Photo/Ariel Schalit)

Alex Kane, Vice, October 8, 2019

Samir Arbeed was arrested by Israeli forces outside his workplace in the West Bank on September 25 in connection with a bomb attack that killed a 17-year-old Israeli girl. Two days later, the 44-year-old Palestinian and member of the militant Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine was rushed to the emergency room, unconscious. Six of his ribs were broken and his kidney had gone into failure.

What happened between his arrest and hospitalization is now a topic of fierce interest for Palestinians, who argue that Arbeed’s injuries are physical proof of a dark reality they’ve long known to be true: Israel’s security forces routinely torture and abuse Palestinian prisoners with impunity.

“This isn’t about two or three interrogators who have gone insane. It’s not about rotten apples. This is a whole system,” said Rachel Stroumsa, head of the Public Committee Against Torture, an independent rights watchdog based in Tel Aviv. “What we see here with Samir Arbeed is unusual in its consequences but not unusual in any other sense.”


“This isn’t about two or three interrogators who have gone insane. It’s not about rotten apples. This is a whole system.”


Since 2001, the Public Committee Against Torture in Israel has filed over 1,200 torture complaints on behalf of Palestinians to the Israeli Attorney General. The vast majority of cases have never seen the light of day, let alone result in any charges.

But Arbeed’s predicament is unique, because he ended up in the hospital with severe injuries. The Shin Bet did not respond to requests from VICE News for comment, and only told Israeli news outlets that a Shin Bet agent reported Arbeed “did not feel well” and that he was then “transferred to the hospital for medical examinations and treatment.”

“He was tortured severely,” said Sahar Francis, the director of Addameer, a Palestinian prisoner support group providing Arbeed with legal representation. “There’s no excuse for it. This is a war crime at the end of the day.”

Now, Palestinian activists and human rights watchdogs are calling for greater scrutiny of the Shin Bet’s shadowy practices, and criminal charges for the interrogators and higher-ups who approve of torture.

“Israel’s authorities must end their systematic use of torture and ensure that those responsible for the torture of Samir Arbeed, including those with command and other superior responsibility, are held to account,” said Saleh Higazi, Amnesty International’s Deputy Middle East and North Africa Director, in a statement.


ISRAELI POLICE ARREST A MAN DURING A PROTEST OUTSIDE A HOSPITAL IN JERUSALEM WHERE PALESTINIAN SUSPECT IS BEING TREATED, TUESDAY, OCT. 1, 2019. SAMIR ARBEED, A PALESTINIAN SUSPECT IN A DEADLY WEST BANK BOMBING WAS IN SEVERE CONDITION AT AN ISRAELI HOSPITAL, AS ISRAELI MEDIA REPORTED AN INVESTIGATION WAS OPENED INTO POSSIBLE WRONGDOING BY ISRAELI SECURITY OFFICERS DURING INTERROGATION. (AP PHOTO/MAHMOUD ILLEAN)

Shin Bet, Israel’s equivalent of the FBI, has long been accused of using torture tactics such as sleep deprivation, beatings, extreme pressure on the back, consecutive, periodical crouches on a suspect’s toes — known as the “frog position”— and psychological threats, including threats of rape. These tactics are typically reserved for Palestinians suspected of involvement in militant activity.

Arbeed’s story isn’t the first time the public has been confronted with the grisly details of what the shadowy Shin Bet does in carrying out its mission to protect Israelis from Palestinian militant attacks. What has changed, however, is Israeli society’s reaction to such violence.

The last time the Shin Bet’s abuse captured widespread, sustained interest was in 1984, when intelligence agents severely beat and then executed two Palestinians who had just hijacked a bus. That affair, and the attempted cover-up, resulted in the Shin Bet directing blame at a decorated army general. The charges shook Israelis to their core.

“There was huge political turmoil — one of the biggest political scandals in the country,” said Ronen Bergman, a staff writer for the New York Times Magazine and author of “Rise and Kill First: The Secret History of Israel’s Targeted Assassinations.” “[Israelis] were appalled and shocked that the Shin Bet, in order to save their necks, rebelled against democracy. They used the tools they used against spies and terrorists against their fellow generals and against the prime minister himself.”

But 35 years on, the Israeli public barely seems to care about allegations of Shin Bet abuse anymore. Arbeed’s case has failed to generate much interest beyond local coverage, much less the sort of widespread public outcry that followed the 1984 killings.

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The Torture of Palestinian Detainee Samer al-Arabid


Palestinian Center for Human Rights, October 8, 2019

On 8 October 2019, the Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR) sent an urgent appeal to the United Nations (UN) Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, Mr. Michael Lynk, and UN Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, Mr. Nils Melzer, concerning the situation of Palestinian Detainee Samer al-Arabid, a 44 year old Palestinian, who was hospitalized after undergoing interrogation with Israeli internal security service (Shin Bet).

In its letter, PCHR explained that the use of torture by the Shin Bet to investigate Palestinian prisoners  is still permissible as the Israeli High Court in 1999 ruled that torture can be used  in “ticking time-bomb” circumstances and gave its tacit approval to the use of the defense of necessity contained in section 34(11) of the Penal Law (1977). PCHR stressed that the extra-ordinary measures used by the interrogators which led to the deterioration of Samer’ medical condition, are in violation of Israel’s obligations under Article 2(2) of the Convention against Torture, which provides that the prohibition of torture is absolute and non-derogable and that no exceptional circumstances whatsoever may be invoked to justify acts of torture. Moreover, it constitutes a grave breach of Article 147 of the Fourth Geneva Convention and Article 11 of the First Additional Protocol to the Geneva Conventions, and amounts to a war crime under Article 85 of the Protocol.

PCHR expressed its concern that resuming Samer al-Arabid’s interrogation can lead to a further deterioration in his health and endanger his life. Israel has many precedents proving the security officers involvement in torture against dozens of prisoners, the latest of which was the recent death of Nassar Majed Taqatah (31), from Bethlehem, during his interrogation, only one month after his arrest.

PCHR called on the Special Rapporteurs to publicly condemn Israel’s use of extra-ordinary measures, which amount to torture, against Palestinian prisoners and detainees, including Samer al-Arabid, and to exert pressure to prevent Israel from employing these extra-ordinary measures again if his condition improves and his interrogation continues.

To read PCHR’s urgent appeal letter, click here.

26 Groups Supporting McCollum Legislation for Palestinian Children

Wisconsin Muslim Journal, May 17, 2019

Israel has the dubious distinction of being the only country in the world that systematically prosecutes an estimated 500 to 700 children each year in military courts lacking fundamental fair trial rights. Children within the Israeli military system commonly report physical and verbal abuse from the moment of their arrest, and coercion and threats during interrogations.
— No Way To Treat A Child

Congresswoman Betty McCollum (DFL-Minn.) today announced support from national and international religious and human rights organizations in support of H.R. 2407, the Promoting Human Rights for Palestinian Children Living Under Israeli Military Occupation Act, introduced May 1, 2019.

Congresswoman McCollum released the following statement:
“Peace can only be achieved by respecting human rights, especially the rights of children,” Congresswoman McCollum said. “These organizations are committed to human rights and are working to support another generation of Palestinian children facing cruel and dehumanizing detention at the hands of Mr. Netanyahu’s military. This strong show of support is part of a growing consensus that the Palestinian people deserve justice, equality, human rights, and the right to self-determination. It is also a signal that none of the billions of taxpayer dollars in American foreign aid to Israel should be spent on inhumanely locking up Palestinian children in Israeli military detention facilities.”

The following is a list of organizations in support of H.R. 2407:
Adalah Justice Project
American Friends Service Committee
American Muslims for Palestine
Amnesty International USA
Arab American Institute
Center for Constitutional Rights
Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)
Churches for Middle East Peace
Defense for Children International – Palestine
Friends Committee on National Legislation
Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA)
Friends of Sabeel North America (FOSNA)
Indiana Center for Middle East Peace
Institute for Policy Studies, New Internationalism Project
Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP)
Mennonite Central Committee U.S. Washington Office
Palestine Legal
Presbyterian Church (USA)
Project South
Quaker Palestine Israel Network
The Episcopal Church
Tree of Life Educational Fund
United Church of Christ
United Methodist General Board of Church and Society
United Methodists for Kairos Response (UMKR)
US Campaign for Palestinian Rights

More information on H.R. 2407

Israeli Authorities Arrest Patient’s Husband While Returning to Gaza Strip

Palestinian Center for Human Rights, Ref: 64/2019, April 24, 2019

The Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR) strongly condemns that the Israeli authorities stationed at Beit Hanoun “Erez” Crossing arrested a patient’s companion, from the Gaza Strip, while returning to the Gaza Strip.

According to PCHR’s investigations, at approximately 12:00 on Tuesday, 23 April 2019, the Israeli authorities arrested Karam Mustafa Mohammed Tantawi (51), from al-Qal’a buildings, south of Khan Younis. Karam, who was accompanying his wife Safa’ ‘Abed al-Majeed Tantawi (47), a cancer patient, was arrested while returning to the Gaza Strip after his wife received treatment at al-Makassed Hospital in Jerusalem.

Safa’ said to PCHR’s fieldworker that on 01 April 2019, she left the Gaza Strip along with her husband to al-Makassed Hospital in Jerusalem through Beit Hanoun “Erez” Crossing. She added that she received treatment for 20 days and while she was returning to the Gaza Strip along with her husband, the Israeli authorities arrested him. She clarified that after around 15 minutes, Israeli soldiers ordered her to leave alone to the Gaza Strip, but she refused and waited until 18:00. After that, the Palestinian Civil Liaison informed her that she should return to the Gaza Strip because her husband was arrested.

It should be noted that the PCHR’s lawyer, in his capacity as the legal guardian for al-Tantawi, was prevented today from visiting him in al- Majdal Prison. The court extended his arrest until next Tuesday, 30 April 2019.

PCHR stresses that the ongoing Israeli forces policy of arresting patients and their companions is considered as violation of the international human rights law and the international humanitarian law. It also constitutes a form of inhuman and degrading punishment, which coincides with the policy of tightening the illegal closure imposed on the Gaza Strip. This aggravates the patients’ suffering as their treatment is not available in the Gaza Strip hospitals.

In light of the above, PCHR:

  • Strongly condemns the arrest of Palestinian patients and their companions during their travel to receive treatment by the Israeli authorities. PCHR also calls for their immediate release and ensuring not to put their lives in danger.
  • Calls upon the international community, including the High Contracting Parties to the Fourth Geneva Convention, to fulfill their obligations and assume their responsibilities and intervene to put an end to the Israeli forces’ violations to the international humanitarian law against Palestinians.
  • Calls for ensuring the freedom of movement of the Gaza Strip’s residents from/to the West Bank, including Jerusalem

Scars of Freedom

Addameer, 16 October 2018

“Scars of Freedom” describes the Palestinian experience of arrest, interrogation, and life in captivity that carries great political, economic, and social impact.

From the beginning of the occupation to the present day the arrest and incarceration of Palestinians has been used continuously to suppress their aspirations for independence and freedom, to oppress Palestinian prisoners, and to inflict collective punishment on their families.

Addameer has also published I’ve Been There: A Study of Torture and Inhumane Treatment in Al-Moscabiyah Interrogation Center.

The Addameer Prisoner Support and Human Rights Association is a Palestinian non-governmental, civil institution that works to support Palestinian political prisoners held in Israeli and Palestinian prisons. Established in 1992 by a group of activists interested in human rights, the center offers free legal aid to political prisoners, advocates their rights at the national and international level, and works to end torture and other violations of prisoners’ rights through monitoring, legal procedures and solidarity campaigns. Addameer is Arabic for conscience.

She slapped an Israeli soldier and was sent to prison. Now a Palestinian teen is free — and in the limelight

“We can change people’s minds
by defending our cause”

She slapped an Israeli soldier and was sent to prison. Now a Palestinian teen is free — and in the limelight
Ahed Tamimi sits July 30 in the backyard of her family house in the West Bank village of Nebi Saleh, near Ramallah. (Nasser Nasser / Associated Press)

Noga Tarnopolsky, LA Times, Aug 02, 2018

Nebi Saleh, West Bank — Two days after her release from an Israeli jail, the 17-year-old Palestinian activist Ahed Tamimi sat in her parents’ yard, wearing jeans and a tired expression, the front of her mane of blond curls tied in a bun atop her head.

TV crews from the United States, Turkey, Germany and Norway vied for on-camera interviews with her. Since her release, her representatives say, she has responded to questions from about 175 media outlets. She has six media advisors, one of them Israeli, and they have worked hard to make her the face of the Palestinian resistance.

In December, Israeli authorities detained Ahed, then 16, after she was filmed slapping and kicking a soldier. She had just learned that a cousin had been shot and wounded with a rubber bullet by Israeli soldiers. It was not her first time in the spotlight: She had been filmed confronting soldiers in 2012 and again in 2015.

Video of the 2017 incident went viral, igniting an international debate about the nature of nonviolent resistance, the behavior of the soldier — who did not react — and the legality of child arrests.

She is, by now, the most recognized member of the Tamimi family, whose 300-plus members populate the tiny West Bank hamlet of Nebi Saleh. Her family has gained fame and notoriety for the weekly Friday protests her father, Bassem, leads against encroachment from a neighboring Jewish settlement.

Ahed Tamimi speaks sitting between her father Bassam and mother Nariman during a press conference on the outskirts of the West Bank village of Nabi Saleh on July 29, 2018.
Ahed Tamimi speaks sitting between her father Bassam and mother Nariman during a press conference on the outskirts of the West Bank village of Nabi Saleh on July 29, 2018. (Majdi Mohammed / AP)

Palestinians celebrate Ahed for her grit and courage; Israelis view her as a provocateur, if not a terrorist.

She was sentenced to eight months in an Israeli women’s prison, and was released after 7 months and 10 days. At a news conference shortly after her release, she said she hopes to become a lawyer so she can defend her people.

In that and subsequent interviews, she has seemed to alternate between standard political rhetoric — “The resistance continues until the occupation is removed” — and remarks that serve as reminders that she is still a teenager. In an interview with The Times on Tuesday, she spoke about both geopolitics and her desire to go swimming and play soccer. Because she is on probation, she declined to speak about the incident that led to her detention.

Her remarks are edited for length and clarity.

Is Israeli jail a rite of passage for Palestinian teens?

Yeah, a lot of Palestinian teens go through this. When you spend eight months in jail you come to see how many other girls go through this, including some who are now adults because they were sentenced to 10 or 12 years in jail. You still can’t call it a normal part of adolescence. For the Palestinian people it has become a normal part of life, but it is abnormal that we see it this way, and we should fight against seeing this as normal.

What do you hope to do now that’s you’re out?

I want to go swimming and swim and swim. I want to play soccer. I miss it a lot, playing in the neighborhood. I miss sitting on the couch with my brother and his friends and eating junk food so late that Dad comes out and yells at us.

Where is your brother?

Waed is 21. He’s in jail. His hearing is on Sunday.

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May 2, 2018
Memorializing 70 Years of Occupation

UW-Madison Students for Justice in Palestine

Rescheduled from April 27. Stop by to see UW SJP’s display memorializing 70 years of occupation and devastation that stills continues today in Palestine. We will be handing out literature and you can find out how you can get involved in the cause. Hope to see you all there!

Open military courtroom for Ahed’s Trial

CODEPINK

Ahed_OpenTrial.jpg
 
After a video of Ahed confronting Israeli soldiers outside her house went viral, she was arrested in the middle of the night. Overnight, she became a hero for young women throughout the world. Israel wants her case to be forgotten so they have closed her trial to the public. No media, no diplomats, no human rights observers.

Help us call on the US State Department to demand that Ahed’s trial be opened, and that they send a US official to monitor the trial.


Dear US State Department,

It is horrible that Israel has closed the courtroom for the military trial of 17-year-old Ahed Tamimi. They are trying to hide from the international community while they try a child in a military court with an over 99% conviction rate.

Seventeen-year-old Ahed Tamimi is facing up to 10 years in prison. Each year, Israel arrests and prosecutes around 700 Palestinian children in military court. Israel’s abuse of Palestinian children must stop.

We ask you to demand that Israel open the courtroom and that you send a representative of the US government to be present throughout Ahed Tamimi’s trial.

Please sign the petition

More information on Ahed Tamimi
 

New billboard campaign raises awareness about child prisoners held by Israel

Palestine Advocacy Project, Mondoweiss, March 8, 2018

Billboard in Bridgeport, CT draws comparisons between apartheid in Israel and the former apartheid regime in South Africa. (Photo: Palestine Advocacy Project)

Palestine Advocacy Project’s latest billboard ad campaign intends to raise awareness about Ahed Tamimi, the 17-year-old Palestinian activist who now faces up to 10 years in Israel’s military prison over an altercation with Israeli soldiers. Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have called for Ahed’s immediate release.

On December 19 at 3AM, the Israeli military raided and ransacked Ahed’s home, arresting her along with her mother and cousin, and charged Ahed with 12 criminal counts, including assault and incitement.

During a protest, Ahed’s 14-year-old cousin was shot in the head at close range by an Israeli soldier. Israeli soldiers then invaded the Tamimi family’s home and threatened the entire family.

Ahed demanded the soldiers leave . After they refused, the unarmed Ahed slapped one of the heavily armed soldiers. It is clear from a video that later went viral, Ahed posed no actual threat to these soldiers.

The first billboard compares the apartheid regime in Israel with the former apartheid regime in South Africa. ​The text strikes through the name of Nelson Mandela and instead proposes Ahed Tamimi just below. Both Nelson Mandela (imprisoned for 27 years by South Africa’s apartheid government) and Ahed symbolize courageous resistance to a repressive government and apartheid systems. Ahed, who spent her 17th birthday in military prison, was arrested without charge and can be held up to 6 month with no due process rights, like so many other Palestinians. When she does go to trial, she will be in a court that has a 99.74% percent conviction rate for Palestinians. Israel’s settlers operate with virtual impunity in the Occupied West Bank.

Mona Abdo an activist with the Palestine Advocacy Project said, “Like Nelson Mandela for South Africa during apartheid, Ahed Tamimi has become a symbol of Palestine’s 50 years of resistance to Israeli’s brutal occupation and apartheid system. The world called for the release of Nelson Mandela then, and now we must call for the release of Ahed Tamimi and the 350 other child prisoners held in Israel’s military prisons.”

The second billboard picks up the focus on freeing the child prisoners in Israeli military prisons. ​According to Defense for Children International-Palestine, “Israel has the dubious distinction of being the only country in the world that systematically prosecutes an estimated 500 to 700 children each year in military courts lacking fundamental fair trial rights”. Additionally, the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) reports that ill treatment in the Israeli military detention system remains “widespread, systematic, and institutionalized throughout the process.”

Billboard in Stratford, CT focuses on child prisoners in Israeli military prisons. (Photo: Palestine Advocacy Project)
 

Ahed Tamimi is turning 17 – demand her freedom on her birthday!

Jan 30, 2018 — Dear friend,

Tomorrow, 31 January, Ahed Tamimi, the imprisoned Palestinian teen, is turning 17. Unfortunately, due to the Israeli settler colonial occupation, she will be marking her birthday behind bars in HaSharon prison awaiting a military court hearing, forcibly separated from her mother (also imprisoned) and the rest of her family.

These days are international days of action to support Ahed. You can be a part of wishing Ahed a happy birthday and sending her greetings of solidarity and freedom!

Ahed is one of over 350 imprisoned Palestinian children and over 6,100 Palestinian prisoners in total. These actions not only demand freedom for Ahed but for all of the Palestinians subject to imprisonment, occupation, apartheid and colonialism.

You can take action online!

In only seconds, you can join an online social media action to free Ahed Tamimi by joining in the Thunderclap! On 31 January, join a global campaign to tweet for Ahed Tamimi’s birthday. It’s easy to add your Twitter, Facebook or Tumblr account to the campaign: click here to join: (https://samidoun.us8.list-manage.com/track/click?u=ca6966f2db7aa619c20875634&id=a0f376c926&e=3116ec7e79).

There are many more actions you can take to support Ahed and the cause of Palestinian freedom. Check out our online action alert to learn more: (http://samidoun.net/2018/01/schedule-of-international-events-take-action-to-free-ahed-tamimi-and-all-palestinian-prisoners/)

Join us to take action in your own city, town or campus!
Join one of the many worldwide actions for Ahed Tamimi in the coming days! Add your event to the list by messaging them to us on Facebook or sending us an e-mail.

Make sure you have posters and flyers for your event: click here to download materials. We encourage you to reproduce and distribute them freely in your city! (https://samidoun.us8.list-manage.com/track/click?u=ca6966f2db7aa619c20875634&id=a58fa49701&e=3116ec7e79)

Tuesday, 30 January, Al-Khalil, Palestine. Birthday party for Ahed Tamimi, 6:00 pm, Tel Rumeida – Shuhada Street. Details: (https://www.facebook.com/events/186358621952559/)

For more information: (http://samidoun.net/)