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Encyclopedia of the Palestine Problem



Part 2 of 4


Upon their arrest, detainees were beaten, their shirts were torn and used to blindfold them and their hands were tied behind their backs with electrical insulation wire. This wire has the property of tightening with every movement of the hands or body. No water was given for the first three or four days. When water was eventually provided, it was a mere ration. No food was given for three to four days, and when it was distributed, it consisted of a loaf of moldy bread which had to be shared among five men. (39)

The detainees were subjected to extreme psychological terror, punctuated by unbridled physical abuse. They were insulted and degraded at every moment. They were not permitted any sanitary facilities in their first days, and thus they had to urinate and defecate in their trousers.

Lieutenant Colonel of the Israeli Army, Dov Yermiya, provided only a few details of torturing detainees. He reported the following:

I saw one prisoner lying with his hands tied. Above him stoodan Israeli officer beating his face, stamping with the heel of his boot. The prisoner's face was already smashed from previous beatings. I asked the officer whether he had orders to do so and he answered that he had.

I saw two soldiers walking between rows of prisoners, all of whom had their hands tied. The soldiers-beat the prisoners with wooden sticks all over their bodies. In one case, I reported these cases and others. After a few days a senior officer told me, "You are causing me such trouble." (40)

What Yermiya reports is reminiscent of the Nazi concentration camp guard sadism which so shocked the civilized world. For example, when Polish Lieutenant General Wladyslaw Bortnowski was captured by the German Wehrmacht in 1939 he had been wounded in the stomach. The German General whose unit had captured him provided his own personal physician to treat his enemy's wounds. After partial healing, General Bortnowski was transferred to an SS administered concentration camp. There a sadistic Nazi guard stomped on his still unhealed stomach. The Zionist guards of today behave in the same way as their World War II SS counterparts.

Testimony abounds of brutality in Israeli concentration camps. An American journalist, Janet Stevens, who was killed in the explosion at the U.S. Embassy inBeirut, Lebanon on April 17,1983, reported the bestiality of the Israeli guards towards Abou-Hussein, a Palestinian refugee tile-layer from Tyre and his relative Abou Maher, an electrician:

Asked to describe the torture to which he was submitted, Abou Hussein continued: "I was given what is called the 'wall treatment.' The prisoner is made to stand motionless against a wall for relentless hours with his hands tied behind his back and a burlap sack over his head. The idea is to fatigue the prisoner over time (sometimes days of standing against this corridor wall) so that he breaks down, either psychologically or physically and confesses to things he didn't do."

Abou Hussein commented: "There is also an aspect of torture by 'humiliation' in this 'wall treatment.' For example, because you cannot move from the wall, you go to the toilet in your trousers, and then begin to detest yourself because you smell so foul and feel so dirty."

"I went to the bathroom in my trousers," added Abou Hussein, "but I bet the Israelis feel more embarrassed now than I felt then, because I escaped. When they took me to a tall building in Tyre for further interrogation, they locked me in a room on the sixth floor. But proof of their inefficiency is that I found a way to open the window and edge my way down a concrete post forming part of the building. No one even saw me make my getaway."

Abou Maher, 40, an electrician and a relative of Abou Hussein, also spent time in detention at Ansar and was only released, along with his son, just recently. Abou Maher agreed with Abou Hussein's observation on the futility of Israeli torture of civilians: "Before the Israeli invasion, we had the idea that the Israeli government was democratic, so as civilians we weren't afraid when the Israeli army occupied the south. All the fedayeen had already withdrawn to the Beqaa region, so when the Israelis advanced, the people who remained behind were civilians. Then we witnessed for ourselves the Israeli military occupation and its arbitrary nature. Now we know how undemocratic and indiscriminating they are. When weas civilians were taken prisoners, we were made to wear not prison clothes, but military dress and boots. The Israelis are obsessed with the idea of convincing themselves that all civilians must be fedayeen too."

Abou Maher gave a complete description of his captivity and detention. He related: "Although I have been living in Shatila for the last six years, my home was destroyed by bombing, so when the Israeli army advanced to Khaldeh, I decided to take my family (wife and four children) to the South, where I have another house. But I fled from one fate to another, for when we arrived in Tyre, the Israelis were rounding up men for detention, and I was caught in the round-up."

Abou Maher continued: "We were held at the Safa factory near Tyre for four days with our hands tied behind our backs and our shirts used as blindfolds from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., and we were kept in an empty lot under the hot sun by day, and in the cold air at night without blankets or cover. We were only fed during this period at the factory one tiny tomato and a small fragment of bread two or three times a day, and given a mouthful of water sipped from a sardine can once a day. If one wanted to go the toilet, he had to raise his hand in notice - and sometimes permission was not given. If not, the prisoner just went in his pants. They released our ties for a short while at around sunset every day, and then we were bound again at night, this time hands held in front, before we went to sleep on the bare ground. After four days of this treatment, they decided to send us to Israel for interrogation."

"The day of our trip to Israel," Abou Maher narrated, "my hands were tied behind my back with a green plastic rope that gripped more tightly the skin if you pulled at it, and my shin was again used as a blindfold. A group of us - about 100 men (all tied and blindfolded in this way) - were then led to a bus which was meant to hold only 40people. But the Israelis stuffed and packed us into the bus, and a few people were crushed or suffocated in the process. One man named Rashid, from Ain Helweh, was crushed underfoot in this manner, but his body was not removed for the bus trip to Israel. When incidents occurred such as this, and we would ask the Israelis to take a dead body away, they would say - 'No, we want more to die.' Or if we saw some prisoner who was gravely ill and then told the guards, they would reply: 'Let him die. What do we care?'"

According to Abou Maher, the trip to Israel took about 12 hours of driving and covered adistance of approximately 130 kilometers. He said that the buses were stopped at certain Israeli checkpoints where Israeli women came up to the blind-folded prisoners in the buses and hit them with sticks or shoes on the head or back. The prisoners, who were given military uniforms to wear before the trip, now understood the significance of that gesture, for the guards accompanying them in the bus told these women: 'These are all fedayeen, the ones that aim rockets at our settlements.'

"The irony of the situation," commented Abou Maher, "was that almost 95 percent of us were civilians, and these Israeli civilians didn't know that all the fedayeen had fled from the south as soon as they saw the Israelis advance."

Abou Maher continued: "When we arrived at some military camps in Israel, we were pushed into rows (of approximately 100 prisoners in each row) and 'run through the stick mill' - i.e., a line-up of about 20 Israeli soldiers who beat us with bludgeons as we passed through.

"Then we were thrown into pits about three meters deep and forced to double-up our bodies and stay in that position against the dirt. The pits were lined with manned machineguns to prevent any thought of escape. Then the interrogation began with groups of five being called up at a time (they had given us in Lebanon prisoner of war cards and a receipt itemizing identity cards and personal effects that had been placed in registered envelopes upon first being taken prisoner). First the prisoner was taken to a table and asked what he did for a living, while agents (either Lebanese or Palestinian) stood behind curtains and pointed to one prisoner or another 'identifying' him as a member of one organization or another. If a finger was pointed at you and you still answered the interrogator that you were let's say a painter, iron-welder, carpenter, or tile-layer, he would shake his head and shout 'No, you are a feda'i,' and according to the seriousness of the charge or information given by the informeragents, the prisoner was taken away or returned to the pit. (Some of the prisoners who came with us we never saw again, and we never heard what happened to them).

"After approximately five days of interrogation in this manner," Abou Maher specified, "life became somewhat 'normalized' in the sense that we were taken out of the pit and given a wider space to move our legs, and also given two blankets and one-fourth of a meal (mainly bread and water) three times daily.

"Every time we were taken for interrogation, a burlap sack was tied around our heads and we marched in a line of about 10 prisoners (each with a hand on the shoulder of the next) to the place of interrogation about 500 meters away."

Abou Maher explained that many of the Palestinian or Lebanese agents that were working with the Israelis were cooperating out of fear ("in fact, I think 90 percent do it out of fear," he said), and that this meant they sometimes pointed their finger at someone to avoid punishment themselves. For at times, if the agent didn't accuse "enough" prisoners of being fedayeen, he was not "trusted" by the Israelis and was consequently beaten. This meant that the agent thrust his finger even at someone he didn't know just to avoid being tied up and beaten himself.

Abou Maher also noted that the Israelis did not give even a little humanitarian treatment to the seriously ill. Abou Maher's own son (who was taken prisoner and released at the same time as his father) had with him a document certified by the American University Hospital in Beirut that he was suffering from a serious heart ailment. The boy also had in his possession at the time of detention a certificate issued by the PLO that he was physically unfit for military service because of this ailment. And while he was in detention, his heart condition worsened, and an Israeli doctor wrote a medical report stating that the boy was very ill and in need of proper food and rest. This, however, did not affect the Israeli authorities, who continued to beat the boy and say to him repeatedly: "You are not ill. You are just playing with us. You are a fighter and we know it."

After ten days of such imprisonment and interrogation in this unidentified military encampment in Israel, many of the prisoners, including Abou Maher and his son, were returned to Ansar in buses in the same manner in which they were sent to Israel (hands tied behind back and blind-folded).

At the Ansar detention camp, they were placed in tents (in each tent 25 prisoners slept and lived in a 3-square meter area) and given two blankets. The food consisted of sparse meals of beans cooked in water or "water and rice," and occasionally six prisoners shared one tin of canned meat and one loaf of bread.

Israeli guards watch over the camps, but out of every sixty prisoners, approximately two are picked to be "mukhtar" or those who "monitor" the activities of the other prisoners. If an Israeli guard noticed some of the prisoners talking to one another (conversation is prohibited at Ansar) or even whispering, these two "mukhtars" might be called to beat such "violators of the regulations" for example. Such "mukhtar" monitors are supposed to favor the Israelis, but often promises for their early release if they "continue to cooperate" are not kept, Abou Maher observed. Abou Maher added that some prisoners even "voluntarily" acted as "agents" and "spies" in the camps, and there was always the danger that such "agents" would lie that someone was a "feda'i" just so he could bargain for his own release.

In Ansar, hence, interrogations continued in a manner similar to the interrogations in Israel, with the interrogator insisting that aprisoner tell him "where his kalashnikov was" when he didn't even possess one.

Abou Maher described one device used by the Israelis to make a detainee "confess to anything they wanted to hear": "A 'stubborn' or 'recalcitrant' prisoner was locked into a metal cabinet (approximately two meters high and 60 centimeters wide) while a fire was heated around it for about 5 to 6 minutes - to the point that the prisoner almost suffocated in this 'pressure-cooker.' Of course, the prisoner would emerge from the cabinet feeling very ill and faint and would sign any confession demanded of him on the spot."

Abou Maher concluded his narration: "Most of the people at Ansar, over 95 percent of them I would say, are really only civilians - some civilians who have sympathized with the PLO of course - but they are still only civilians. About half are Lebanese and half are Palestinian, while there are some from Pakistan, Bangla Desh, and India. The Israelis keep telling these civilians 'I want your kalashnikov and these civilians keep answering 'I don't have a kalashnikov,' until the Israelis finally let them go. But the trouble is that the Israelis are particularly severe on the Palestinians - they release comparatively more Lebanese than Palestinians. The Israelis made us wear military uniforms in detention, but that doesn't change the reality that we are civilians."

Abou Maher's wife, who had been listening quietly to her 602 Encyclopedia of the Palestine Problem husband's narration, burst out: "And I have two neighbors, both teachers in UNWRA, - they came and took them away. They still havenot been released,even though they havenever carried weapons in their lives. They are holding in detention professors, doctors, and engineers, even after it is obvious from their profession that they are not fedayeen."

She added: "They even took away one little boy who is seven years old. They kept asking him where his father was. We don't know what they did to him, but when they released him and he went home, he couldn't speak and he remains speechless now, so they must have terrorized him. The Israelis are obsessed, and this 7-year old boy must be terrified by the extent of the obsession he saw." (41)

Such stomach-churning accounts as these are often found in the literature of Nazi war crimes. Many of them are heart-rending accounts by co-religionists of the Zionist war criminals of today. Yet the world cannot imagine that so soon after the demise of Nazism in Germany similar outrages are taking place in the Holy Land, perpetrated by the relatives of Nazism's victims.


The history of the infamous Al Ansar concentration camp in Lebanon is thoroughly recorded. In time there will be a memorial to those who suffered and died there at the hands of their sadistic guards.

The Ansar I concentration camp was set up in a few days between Tyre and Nabatiya in southern Lebanon. In September, 1982 the Israeli military expanded the camp, constructing an additional area almost as large as the original one.

Ansar was divided into sections which each contained twenty tents. An estimated total of 12,000 detainees were in twenty sections of Ansar. It lacked the most elementary amenities.

The Israeli daily Davar of November 29, 1982, gave the following report on Ansar I: "The men relieve themselves in ditches, and in heavy rains the feces float through the camp, spreading a terrible stench. Tents collapsed, and the men were drenched to the bone. Drinking water is very scarce, and to say that hygienic conditions are bad is an understatement. A cloud of stench, caused by sweat, urine, feces and detergents hovers over the camp." The report concluded that the Ansar camp is "on the verge of going up in flames."

The press reported several times on mutinies in this camp, and that many prisoners were wounded or killed in the course of their suppression. One such mutiny was reported at the end of September, 1982. When two more prisoners were killed and 4 wounded on December 2, the Israeli media maintained that a volley of bullets "went off' from the rifle of one of the guards. (42)

A prison collaborator system was set up in Ansar I. Prisoners were made answerable for the discipline of an area. A "Mukhtar" prisoner was assigned and for each tent a supervisor was appointed. The Mukhtar had to beat prisoners on command and make punishments.

There were confinement cells ("Zinzana") made of tin and too small for a man to lie down or sit. The heat inside the "Zinzana" was intolerable during the summermonths. A man, according to eyewitnesses, would be carried out unconscious after four hours of confinement.

Men with severe medical problems remained in Ansar I untreated. As of February, 1983,75 prisoners needed operations and 262 were chronically ill with heart failure, bronchial asthma, diabetes, schizophrenia, cerebral damage, cataracts and cancer. Lists of the severely ill were given to the Israelis and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), but the men remain untreated.

Many Israeli soldiers and observers protested against the inhuman conditions of Ansar to the press and to the authorities. Hundreds of testimonies were collected by Israeli and international persons and organizations. It is almost impossible to give an exact account of what had happened in the Ansar Camp.

On November 5, 1982, the daily Ha'aretz published a report of an Israeli soldier assigned to guard duty at Ansar I:

"After two to three days there I already knew something bad would happen. You know that somewhere, sometime, the whole thing will explode." He described the "stink rising from the camp, the spotlights and noise of the armed cars patrolling all night between their enclosures."

"You sit looking down your rifle. The spotlights paint the tents and figures around the tents, and the smell, that terrible smell of 7,000 bodies and their secretions stinking in the lavatories. This smell surrounds you all day and all night. It accompanies you while you are eating, while you are asleep, when you wake up."

The soldier described how "we know that if something happens, we are supposed to open fire. This must be done from the watch towers and from the military vehicles.

"At first, we are pleased toget out of the camp, toget away from the disturbing stinking mess of the prisoners and not to hear the constant screaming of the interrogated."

The soldier described how one day someone let women, looking for their men, get close to the camp's fence and the prisoners moved in the directions of the fence:

"So one of the M.P. officers appeared, aimed his rifle and began shooting into them. And we standing outside the fence, watched how the bullets cut into the flesh and the wounded begin to hold on to the wound and the blood streams through their fingers staining the blue uniforms and the wounded fall to the ground crying and someone seems to be dead and another is twisting in pain and their friends bend down next to them shouting. There is more shouting - and the loudspeakers call on all the men to get into the tents and they obey, leaving the crying wounded on the ground." (43)

These accounts of Al Ansar are not unique to one concentration camp. At the notorious Fara'a prison in the West Bank the same conditions prevail. If there are fewer victims in Fara'a than there were in Ansar I, the magnitude of their suffering was the same. And Fara'a has not been closed.


Fara'a prison is situated about twenty kilometers northeast of the West Bank town of Nablus. It was built by the British as an army camp and continued to serve that purpose under the Jordanians. After the Israeli occupation in 1967 the buildings fell into disuse until the spring of 1982. The following is an extract from a report by the organization Law in the Service of Man, of Ramallah, the West Bank:

Widespread demonstrations and protests in the West Bank during the spring of 1982 led to many arrests and serious problems in the already overcrowded existing prisons and detention centres. In April 1982, the then Israeli Chief of Staff, Rafael Eitan, issued amemorandum giving instructions on how to deal with the wave of protest. He suggested that a "detention/exile camp" be built, "even if it does not have the conditions of a normal prison." The camp could "serve for detention when use needs to be made of the legal measures allowing detention for a period of time dictated by the law, i.e., 18 days" (SeeJerusalem Fust 21.1.83). Such a camp was established at Fara'a, and those who were suspected of committing an offence, and those against whom it seemed clear no charges could be made were taken to Fara'a where they could be kept, without interrogation, for the eighteen days allowed by Military Order 378 and then released. The prison, unlike other West Bank prisons, was run by the army and was officially known as Fara'a Correction Center. The previously derelict buildings had been quickly opened as a prison and this fact coupled with control by the army rather than the prison service seemed to lead to far harsher conditions existing at Fara'a than elsewhere.

In May 1982 Fara'a was brought into line with other West Bank prison/detention centers when Military Order 998 was introduced. This order added Fara'a to an already existing list of detention centers (see Military Order 43). But the change in the law seems to have had little effect on the conditions at Fara'a. According to article 19 of Military Order 29 the commander of the prison (appointed by the West Bank military commander) is responsible for specifying the guard arrangements. Unlike other prisons, Fara'a continues to be guarded by the army.

Article 32 of Military Order 29 allows the prison commander to decide on additional conditions and regulations for the prisoners. Requests were made to the Legal Adviser to the Military Government for copies of these regulations but he did not reply. Many additional rules of behaviour have been introduced at Fara'a which are not to be found elsewhere and which result in a strict regime.

For example:-

1. Prisoners must always keep their arms behind their backs in the presence of soldiers.

2. No talking is allowed in the presence of soldiers except with prior permission.

3. Most prisoners have their heads forcibly shaved upon entry to Fara'a. From the evidence of former prisoners, it appears that this practice is carried out more to humiliate prisoners than for any reason of hygiene.

Until January 1984, the prison consisted of three sections which we shall refer to as the rooms, the stables, and the tents.

The Rooms: There are nine rooms found in the main buildings of the prison in which up to 30 prisoners are kept. The rooms are 20 square meters in area and contain no WC. Just five toilets are provided for the hundred or more prisoners who are kept in the main buildings.

The Stables: These are the old stables that were used by the British and Jordanian armies. Measuring 9 meters by 20 meters, the stables are divided into individual horse pens in which as many as 5 prisoners are kept. In total up to 60 prisoners are confined in the stables. There is no WC or running water.

The Tents: During periods of widespread arrests, when the prison is full, tents areerected outside to contain the overflow. Up to 50 prisoners may be kept in each tent, which measures 3 meters by 6 meters. The tents are kept closed with the prisoners inside for large periods of the day.

A student, who was arrested on 22 April 1983 and taken to al-Fara'a, gives the following account:

"At around 6.30 in the morning they took us to another prison called al-Fara'a. When we got there, they left us until 2.30 p.m., still without food and making us stay sitting on the ground all the time. After that we were summoned to the securities center and they took all our money and Identity cards. They took us to a section called the 'Stable,' used specially for horses in the British Mandate period and the period of Jordanian rule. This place is extremely damp, and there are about 120 prisoners held there. We slept four to the place of one horse, the normal thing for the other prisoners. An officer came and read a series of orders to us, which in brief meant standing up when any soldier came to the stable, putting your hands behind your back when walking and not sitting down to eat before hearing the order from the soldier. Anyone violating these orders would be liable to punishment - either being put in a cell, or being deprived of food. We spent Saturday under these conditions; the first meal we had was in the afternoon, and consisted of a plate of soup without salt, an onion; a rotten banana and rotten meat. I saw one of the soldiers feeding the same meat to the dogs.

"On the second day (i.e. Sunday) while I was walking round the yard,'Captain Jedir called me over and told the barber to shave me, hitting me on the head and back, and ordered me to submit to his orders, to obey him and have my head shaved.

"So, the barber shaved my head and when it was over, Captain Jedir began to jeer at me saying, 'How are you going to meet your friends in the university looking like that?' At the same time, he put one of my colleagues in the cells because he refused to submit to Captain Jedir's orders to have his head shaved. They shaved sixty Bir Zeit and Najah students in the same fashion.

"We stayed there under such conditions until five days had gone by in al-Fara'a prison - or rather, in al-Fara'a stable. Two hours before we were released, Captain Jedir ordered us to clean the prison yard of all the dirt and filth sticking to it. After that we went to securities and were released at about 4 p.m. on Tuesday, 26th April 1983."

On 3 April 1983, the owner of a grocer shop was arrested in the West Bank town of Nablus and was taken to al-Fara'a. He gives the following account of the conditions there: "When we got to al-Fara'a prison in the district of Nablus, we met the supervisor of the prison and he ordered us not to break the rules and regulations of al-Fara'a which stipulate:

1. Anyone leaving the tent had to put their hands behind their back.

2. When any soldier entered the tent, everyone had to stand up, again with his hands behind his back.

3. At mealtimes, you had to remain standing until given the signal to sit.

4. You had to put your hand up before speaking to a soldier.

5. The door of the tent was not to be opened at all throughout the day. 6. No work inside the tent.

"Anyone who broke these orders and rules was liable to punishment, either by being put in the isolation cells or being deprived of food - this last applied with respect to rule 3; or having everyone brought out of the tent and made to stand with their hands up for rules 4 and 5. We were in fact taken out of the tent twice and made to stand for twenty minutes with our hands up. the first time because a detainee had laughed loudly, and the second time because another had opened the door of the tent for ventilation purposes.

"The people being held at al-Fara'a had warned us, with regard to the tent, about the risk of getting infectious rashes of spots on our bodies as a result of the din in the tent and covers, and also because of the lack of soap:While we were there, we 26 youths did in fact get these spots on our bodies and in particular on our faces.

"The food was in very limited supply, and was not clean. They used to give us two bowls of soup for all 26 youths, and just three spoons for every ten of us. The conditions were miserable. They would wake us every day at 4.30 a.m. and breakfast was at 7.30 a.m.; this was just to make life uncomfortable. Also, next to the tent, there was a bucket used as the toilet. This bucket stood next to the tent all day, and then at the end of the day its contents would be emptied out beside the tent; the smell stayed with us all day, especially as we were not also allowed to open the tent all day.

"We stayed like that until Friday, 8 April 1983 and were then released without being questioned."

In January 1984, several changes occurred at Fara'a. Until this time Fara'a had been used solely as a detention center, interrogation and investigations being carried out elsewhere. Since January, 1984, Fara'a has started to be used as an interrogation center and there have been many allegations from prisoners of maltreatment and torture. Some prisoners also claim that such maltreatment is sometimes used not for purposes of obtaining information, but as punishment in itself. Among the methods of interrogations which have been reported by prisoners are the following:

1. Hooding - Prisoners are made to stand for long periods with their hands tied behind their back and a hood over their head. They will often remain hooded for several days.

2. Hooded prisoners are sometimes made to stand outside in the courtyard without clothes, and other hooded prisoners have been made to stand in a corridor and have been regularly beaten by the soldiers as they have passed.

3. Prisoners are kept alone in a very small cell, the floor of which is covered with water to a depth of about 10cm. This has resulted in prisoners complaining of headaches and more serious health disorders.

4. Necessary medical treatment has been withheld until the prisoner has signed a confession.

5. Several reports collected have alleged the practice of putting a stick or a pen between each finger of the prisoner and squeezing hard.

6. Prisoners are forced to take very hot showers followed by very cold showers in rapid succession.

7. Prisoners are made to stand for long periods continually moving their head from left to right or with their arms outstretched.

The following are three affidavits given by people who suffered serious ill-treatment at al-Fara'aduring the first three months of 1984.

The first section is given by a 16-year-old student who was imprisoned at a1 Fara'a on 24 February 1984.

"On my arrival at al-Fara'a I was summoned by military intelligence, who wore military-type clothes; they put a bag over my head and manacled my hands - the handcuffs were extremely tight - and thus I remained until 1 p.m. I was summoned for interrogation and questioned by Captain Abu Samara, who made numerous charges against me - writing on walls, throwing stones, Molotovs, demonstrations, membership, raising the flag ... I can't remember the rest. I denied all these charges. He then drew up a paper with the word 'not' added to all the above-mentioned charges: 'I did not write on walls, I did not throw stones ...,' etc. He then asked me to sign it and I did. Thereupon, the captain proceeded to strike out the word 'not' and threatened to put me on trial. He put the paper away and returned me to my former state with a bag over my head and my hands manacled. I was summoned several times, and during interrogation was subjected to various kinds of torture. Several times I was given 'hot showers' - I was interrogated on the subject of various charges and then hooded and handcuffed. I was hooded thus for 5 days on end, standing up; sometimes we would be ordered to sleep on the floor hooded and handcuffed, and while stretched out, other policemen would come and shout at us and we would be ordered to stand up. During these 5 days I was placed for 24 hours in a cell with 10- 15 centimeters of water in it covering the entire floor and giving rise to severe chill, cold and headache. Afterwards I observed a pustule on my stomach that began to increase in size and spread over my body. I was very frightened by this, but the interrogation continued and I was thereby forced to confess that I had thrown a stone, despite the fact that I had done no such thing; I confessed merely to put an end to the torture, having begun to fear for my life. After my false confession, the prisondoctor came and examined me and told me that my condition was serious. He did not, however, give me any kind of treatment, but simply took my temperature, although by now the pustule, inflammations and pus had spread over most of my stomach and back. I was taken back to the cell and stayed there until the morning of the next day, when I was taken to the army hospital. There, I was seen by a doctor who said that my disease was contagious and I should be put in a room by myself. Once again, I received no treatment.

"On 2 March 1984, as a result of extreme physical pain, two Jewish doctors were called in, and, upon examining me, were taken aback. My disease had become critical and was being daily aggravated due to lack of treatment and the wretched conditions in the cell - the damp, and the dirt arising from the lack of bathing or washing. A trial was therefore held the same day, 2 March, 1984, without my appointing a lawyer. I was sentenced to one year in prison suspended for four years and was released immediately."

The second section is given by a 15 year-old student who was arrested at 1 :30 a.m. on the night of 22 January, 1984.

"When I got to al-Fara'a prison, my personal possessions were taken and I went to the doctor's room for a check - I didn't have any illness - and was taken from there to the Stable. There, I was handcuffed with one hand over my shoulder and the other behind my back, and they put a bag over my head. Then they took me into the toilets. They forced me to sit down in the water there inside the toilets and I stayed there for two days. During this time I was subjected to ugly interrogation; they beat me with an electric cable and ordered me to turn round and round for a long time so that 1 got giddy and nauseous. They made me stand cross-like in the middle of the interrogation room for an hour and a half, after which I simply was not aware of what was happening to me, as I was in a heavy faint because of the interrogation. When I came to I found a nurse beside me calling me by name, and he gave me some tablets. Half an hour later I was returned to interrogation. They kicked me with their army boots on my shins, saying for example that they'd bring my sister and do what they liked with her. This went on for a long time. I told them I was innocent but they didn't believe me, and kept on torturing me for 12 days on end. During this period, many charges were made against me but I only confessed to one, which was throwing stones at a car with an Israeli number. After 12 days, they put me in the rooms and 1 stayed there for two months. During these two months, I was taken to court four times. The fifth time, 1 was sentenced. The judge was satisfied with my term of detention (two months) and sentenced me to two months suspended for three years. I was released at 7.30 p.m. on 22 March 1984."

The third section is taken from an affidavit given by a 23-year-old carpenter who was arrested on 5 March, 1984.

"When I got to al-Fara'a, they took all my personal possessions and I went to the doctor's room. He checked me - I didn'thave any illness- and when themedical examination was over, they moved me to the Stable and put me in handcuffs with a bag over my head for two days. Then I went on to an interrogation room where there was an interrogator called Abu Dani. He proceeded to make various charges against me - closing stores in Ramallah, inciting, preparing Molotov cocktails and also (membership in) internal organizations. I had done none of these things and told him so. 1 told him I owned a shop and supported my family who consisted of my wife, two daughters and a son. After this, I was moved to a cell for seven days on end, with continuous interrogation, day and night. There were handcuffs on my hands and a bag over my head, and there was always water on the floor of my cell. They also restricted my food. I underwent a long period of interrogation and extremely ugly techniques were employed. More than once they used cold showers on me; the weather was extremely cold with heavy rain and they used this method on me during the bitterly cold nights. Another method was for the interrogator to rub my genitals with his hands, and also pull them. Then I was taken to the cell for two hours and then back to the rooms. After this, I went on trial and my detention was extended for seven days. During the seven days I was taken once at random to the court, and after the session the judge ordered I should be released.

After I left prison, I had pains in my throat, stomach, right knee, and genitals. During interrogation, I was told Iwouldn't be able to father children because of the treatment they had dealt to my genitals."

Such ill-treatment appears to be taking place in the stables which have now been converted. Several rooms have been built for the use of officers of Israeli Intelligence. Ten cells have also been constructed. These cells measure just 60 cm by 170 cm and are often used by more than one prisoner during the period of interrogation. The cells have just one small window (measuring about 30cm by 20cm) and no WC. Prisoners are sometimes, although by no means always, provided with a bucket. Prisoners are kept in these cells for several days.

There are at present 250 prisoners in Fara'a, most of them between the ages of 15 and 18. (44)


At the Safah warehouse outside Sidon, Lebanon, and in the Nun's School in Sidon as well. Palestinian and Lebanese victims of the Israelis have reason to call their tormentors to account. The following is a report of the testimony of an anonymous prisoner:

The interviews were carried out on July 23. The subject did not agree to have his voice tape-recorded, so I recorded his remarks in longhand as translated into English by a friend.

Subject did not remember the date of his arrest, but it seems to have occurred later than that of the others who have testified, after the first gatherings on the beach. Subject said that some had gone to the beach and got passes there, tried to use them to get to Beirut but were returned at Khaldeh. For this reason he had not gone to the beach, but stayed with neighbors near his Workplace. He thinks that it was on the 3rd or 4th day after Sidon had surrendered that the Israelis came through the streets calling on all males to accompany them to theNun's School. They werecarrying a white flag. When they arrived there were not at first many people visible but during the four days he was there the number grew to maybe 1,000. He says that they were not hand-tied straight away, but were passed immediately in front of the two masked informers. He was marked with a cross, and made to sit in the schoolyard with others, their heads lowered. At this point he was blindfolded and his hands tied with rope (not plastic - but the scars were still visible in his wrists). They were forced to sleep on their stomachs, and shots were fired every now and then over their heads to intimidate them. For three days he had no water, no food and no chance to use a latrine.

On the second day, at around 3.30 p.m., came his first interrogation. The officer spoke Arabic, asked him his name, employment, birthplace and "Do you work for an organization?" ("Organization" seems to be synonymous with resistance movement here.) Subject said that he is a civilian, and has no connection with any organization. He was returned to his place, blindfolded again and hands tied again. They gave him a paper written in Hebrew. He was now interrogated again in the Nun's School, though others were taken more than twice, including two Iraqi doctors. He was not beaten during interrogation, but others were. There was one man he knew, a worker in the Red Crescent, who was beaten after an informer indicated that he was a fedai. Guards beat anyone who spoke with police batons.

But during this period the subject said his greatest suffering came not from beatings, but from thirst. On the 3rd day, he said, two Israeli soldiers were drinking water near him, and he begged them for a sip. They refused. He said that this was his worst moment. He broke down and cried.

The subject showed me sun burn marks on his lower legs. I asked him if he saw any persons who died from exposure during this period. He said that when they left the Nun's School on the fourth day there were two corpses that were left behind, one an oldish man, the other not so old.

On the fourth day they brought a municipal fire engine with water. Everyone got water and 114 loaf of bread. At the end of that day they brought buses and lorries and everyone in the school was pushed into them, hands tied, and transferred to the Safah warehouse outside Sidon. There they were put in a field surrounded by four or five tanks with their guns pointing at the prisoners, only 2 to 3 meters away.

The subject spent four days in Safah. Here there was plenty of water, but permission had to be taken to go to the supply house. They were fed twice a day, in the morning and at noon: 1/4 loaf of bread, one tomato, one cucumber and one apricot.

Subject was beaten at Safah, because, having asked permission to go to the latrine he took the opportunity to drink some water as well. A guard saw him and ordered him to approach. When he was near, the guard said, "Lie down." He lay down. (Subject demonstrated a position similar to that of Muslim prayer). The guard says: "How old are you?" A: 53. The guard kicked him with his boot two or three times, then made him face the wall with his hands above his head for about 15 minutes. When the subject momentarily lowed his hands to rest on his head, the guard beat him on the back with his rifle butt.

In Safah, the subject was brought before two masked informers, one points to him, the other not. Immediately after, he is taken for interrogation. The questions asked him are: What is your work? What is your age? What year were you born? Where do you live? (The subject did not want me to record his replies, and it was difficult to get him to give detail about the questions). Another question was: Do you have money? The officer gave him a paper and told him to go to another officer, who made a circle on it. The guard took him to a yard where buses were standing, around ten to twelve of them. He and others were blindfolded and their hand ties made stronger (in front of body). They were pushed into the buses.

Subject recounted that before and during the bus ride one of the guards accused a boy of about 16 of having killed four Jews, and beat him severely several times. In the bus they were searched for money, but the subject said his was not taken. On the way, they stopped at Israeli settlements, people got on the bus to look at them and hit those nearest the door.

They reached their destination at about 3 a.m. They were ordered into groups of five, each was given two blankets, and told to sleep on the floor. The subject described the place as having high wire fences, with guards and lights above the prisoners. It was not like a prison, but more like a special interrogation center, a transit camp.

At 7 a.m. they were given breakfast, 1/4 loaf of bread and as much water as they wanted. Afterwards people were taken for interrogation in groups of ten. They go one by one into an office where two interrogators are seated, both in military uniform (the subject was not sure whether they belonged to Military Intelligence or were ordinary officers). A soldier grasped him by the hand and made him face to all four sides of the room (he speculated that maybe there were informers viewing suspects through holes in the walls. Another possibility is that he was being photographed. Another interviewee reported that he was ordered to "stop in front of the camera" just before interrogation in the Nun's School in Sidon, though no camera was visible). The subject presented his paper from the Safah center. The interrogator asked him the same questions: Age? Job? Place of birth? Present residence? He also asked him, Are you military?, and as he put his question he moved a stick that was on the table, as if to threaten him.

At the end of the interrogation, he was given a small piece of paper, and sent to sit by himself. The interrogation went on, and he was joined by three others, who were all Lebanese. On entering this camp (or maybe after the first interrogation), all the suspects had their personal belongings taken away and in return were given a receipt. They were also each given a green prison ID card.

Right after the interrogation, others were all given blue prison clothes, after being sprayed with DDT. They were also given a towel and boots. The others were all ordered in groups of five. He and the three others with him asked an officer, What is going to happen to us? The officer said, Do you think that we have a helicopter waiting to take you? From this they understood that they were likely to be released. Then a higher officer came and said, Dress them like the others. After they had been given the prison suits and a towel, they were blindfolded and led, each holding the other, out to a line of tents, and placed in one of them. Each tent had about 40 prisoners. Each had its own cooking facilities. Food was supplied by the camp authorities, and prepared by prisonercooks. Prisoners were given soap, a toothbrush, a razor blade for each two, and a blade holder for each four.

Here the subject met two people he had known before, who had reached the camp before him. The subject was reluctant to speak about them, probably from fear of identifying them.

Prisoners were counted three times a day, at night, morning and noon. Each prisoner got two cigarettes a day. Bread was enough but cooked food was scanty, one boiled potato between ten people. They weregiven meat once and fish once.

The day after they had first shaved, they were interrogated again, the same questions.

The next day, at night, they were told that all who hear their names called should leave the tents, with all their prison belongings. His name was among those called. From each tent in the camp, some prisoners leave. They are ordered in groups of five, and told to start walking. They walkedpast many tents, then into a new camp, maybe 114 of an hour walk away. Here they sleep the night. The next morning they are given breakfast. Then they are told to give in their blankets, towel, toilet kits. No one tells them they are going, but they see buses, 40 to a bus. They were called out by number. In return for the receipt, each was given his papers, money etc. (the subject had his money, LL 300, returned to him, but not his ID card). All were blindfolded before getting on the buses. When they reached Tyre, their eyes were uncovered. Seven people left the bus here, and as they went their prisoner ID cards were Israeli Concentration Camps and Prisons 607 taken away from them. In Sidon the same thing happened, their green prison cards were taken and they were given new cards which gave them permission to circulate (no time limit). (45)

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Encyclopedia of the Palestine Problem
By Issa Nakhleh

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