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Encyclopedia of the Palestine Problem



Part 4 of 4

The I.C.R.C. does not see prisoners who are undergoing interrogation. In each prison there are sets of cells which the Israeli authorities refuse to permit the I.C.R.C. to visit. In Nablus prison, special cells (known as the X cells) are under the control of the security services (not the prison administration). The I.C.R.C. is denied access to these special cells as well as to the solitary confinement cells to which they are adjacent. There are also cells attached to the Military Governor's office, to which the I.C.R.C. is denied access. (94)

The I.C.R.C. makes it difficult for a prisoner to file a complaint. In 1970, the I.C.R.C. decided that before it would take up a complaint of torture, a prisoner must first bring his or her allegation before the Israeli authorities. This greatly reduced the number of complaints filed with the I.C.R.C.! Despite this, hundreds of prisoners have made reports to the I.C.R.C. and by 1977, the I.C.R.C. had passed to the Israeli authorities at least 200 formal complaints of ill-treatment or torture. No information has been released on what followed from these complaints. (95)


Amnesty International is renowned for its measured investigations of the treatment of detainees throughout the world and for its work on behalf of "prisoners of conscience." Since 1970, when Amnesty International issued a report on Israeli practices, Israel has refused Amnesty International's requests to enter the post- 1967 Occupied Territories and to conduct an investigation into the question of torture.

Based upon testimony, photographs and medical reports gathered by the Secretary General of Amnesty, the organization had requested an immediate inquiry. As Arne Haaland, a member of the Executive Committee of Amnesty International, stated:

"We have rarely - if ever -had such reliable information on which to base the establishment of the facts in relation to torture taking place - or not taking place - in a particular country." (96)


The evidence of systematic brutality is overwhelming. The individual cases examined here are not isolated nor are they the result of extraordinary circumstances. The cases cited do not differ from others. The torturers are not aberrant individual cops who got out of hand. They are members of all sections of Israeli police and security divisions operating in the line of duty. Violence is the norm for dealing with Palestinians whether they are farmers taking their produce to market or youths throwing stones, Palestinian citizens of pre-1967 Israel, or Palestinian residents of the territories occupied in 1967 and afterward. Torture is a fundamental part of the legal system, coercion is the route to confession and confession is fundamental to conviction.

Two recent situations highlight this reality. On March 5, 1984, three Galilee youths were released after being acquitted of acharge of hoisting the Palestinian flagon the first anniversary of the massacre of Sabra and Shatila. There had been no evidence against the youths and a confession could not be extracted. In court, Hussam Safieh and Ziad Sbeh Ziad spoke of the torture they had been subjected to in detention. (97)

They had been sprayed with cold water and left naked in a room. They were beaten over their entire bodies, including their genitals. Electric torture had also been used. Ziad was thrown from one interrogator to the next, his hand5 tied behind his back. He was beaten on the face and neck when he refused to sign a confession.

On March 25, 1984, the Israeli League for Human and Civil Rights accused Israeli authorities of using torture and brutality against prisoners in Fara'a prison. The League categorized Far'a as "a factory for extracting confessions.'g8 Interrogators use sy stematic humiliation and prolonged interrogation to extract confessions from youths who refuse to admit committing such minor offenses as stoning vehicles.

Attorney Felicia Langer, a member of the Israeli League for Human and Civil Rights and the lawyer for many youths incarcerated in Fara'a, added that prisoners were forced to eat and sleep in toilets and flooded cells. They were beaten to the point of requiring hospitalization. Israeli women were brought in to play with prisoners' sex organs as an act of humiliation.

The treatment of prisoners does not change with the particular party in power. If Prime Minister Menachem Begin categorized Palestinians as "two legged beasts," the systematic brutality imposed upon the Palestinian detainee was just as severe under past Labor Alignment governments. As former Prime Minister David Ben Gurion said, "The Military regime exists to defend the right of Jewish settlement everywhere." (99)

While much is made of the democratic and humanist pretensions of Israel, the evidence presented in this study, as does the evidence accumulated in studies of Zionist colonization and rule in Palestine, strip away such pretensions. In the apartheid regime of South Africa, a distinction is made between white, colored and black rights. So in pre-1967 Israel an analogous distinction is drawn between Jew and Arab.

The Palestinian people, whether in the territory of the Israeli State prior to 1967 or that occupied after 1967, are subject to a sustained program of repression, at once institutionalized, unrelenting and designed to destroy their national existence.

The Zionist view of the impact of this policy on the Palestinian people was summed up in the Knesset by General Rafael Eitan, Chief of Staff of the Israeli armed forces: "When we have settled the land. all the Arabs will be able to do will be to scurry around like drugged roaches in a bottle." (100)

The Palestinian condition in the Israeli-occupied section of Lebanon involves an extension of this process.


The following conditions prevail in Israel's concentration camps, statistically obtained from released prisoners or their families:

1. Brutal torture (physical and mental).

2. Rooms are extremely overcrowded and prisons contain double their normal capacity.

3. Toilet facilities are inside the rooms.

4. The prison buildings are very outdated.

5. Bad air and rotten smells permeate the rooms.

6. Blinding lights from gas lamps are used in the rooms day and night.

7. Medical care is available only in critical conditions.

8. Food is meager both in quality and quantity.

9. Space is very narrow and does not allow for freedom of movement or physical exercise.

10. Only one hour a day is allowed for being in any sunlight.

11. Family visits are half an hour, twice monthly.

12. Visitors are subjected to maltreatment, "beatings, insults and curses."

13. The prisoners are not allowed any sort of movement within the prison.

14. There are no beds as such, rather, the prisoners must make do with six dirty blankets to be used as bed, pillow and cover.

15. Insects and rodents fill the rooms.

16. Frequent sudden attacks on the rooms accompanied by beatings with clubs and the use of gas bombs.

17. Confiscation of the militant's personal possessions such as books, hand works, pictures, etc....

18. The only ventilation in the rooms is a very high small window covered with bars and a metal net. (101)

Since the invasion of the Lebanon in 1982 the Israeli concentration camp system has increased in size. But the conditions in the Israeli concentration camp system before the invasion were equally bad. We quote Zionist officials themselves:

According to the International Center for Peace in the Middle East, overcrowding of detainees is a central problem of the detentions. In March 1980, prison commissioner chief Chaim Levi vehemently protested prison conditions as the "worst of any jails in the western world." (102)

On July 1980, Judge Max, who presided over a Commission charged with investigating Israeli prisons, concluded that they were "among the worst in the world because of overcrowding and the very harsh way prisoners were treated by the Israelis." (103)


More recent information on the horrors of internment in Israeli jails was released at a press conference of the Israeli League for Human and Civil Rights, held in Jerusalem on 29 August, 1988:

The press conference was opened by Dr. Joseph Algazi, a member of the League's (steering) committee. He spoke briefly about the important role played by the media, particularly the Hebrew language media, over the past year. Serving as "the watchdogs of democracy," they had disseminated reliable information about human rights violations in the territories. The League, he said, has been decrying conditions in (Israeli) prisons since the beginning of the occupation. Now, Dahariya and Ksiyot have taken their place alongside names like Sarafand, Be'er Yakov, Fara'a, Jneid and Ansar 2 (in Gaza). He concluded by demanding the closure of Ansar 3 and the release of the thousands of people under administrative detention.

Khaled Yousef Mussa of Jericho was in the camp from 30 April to 12 August of this year. A father of three children, he earns his living doing agricultural work. Mussa was arrested on the afternoon of 17 April while he was working a plot of land and taken to Jericho jail. During the period he spent in the jail he wasn't even interrogated once. On 27 April he was transferred to the Dahariya (prison) camp; his hands, which had been bound tight in plastic handcuffs, turned blue. In Dahariya, he was placed in room #16, a 4x4 square meter room into which twenty nine people had been packed. They took turns at 10 centimeter wide air vent, but on account of the lack of oxygen, suffered from fatigue and dizziness. "Many of us preferred to stand outside with our hands above our heads rather than remain inside without air," he related. Three days later, he was transferred along with a group of detainees to Ansar 3. After a "warm" welcome from the warders, they were told to curse Arafat. When they refused, they were beaten. Soldiers on the site taught them songs like, "Don't throw stones." "Don't throw Molotovs," etc. Their clothes were taken away and they received prisoners' uniforms. No attempt was made to fit the uniforms to their physical build.

He described the camp as being made up of three wings which are divided into units. Each unit contains eight tents, with 28 detainees to a tent. The detainees suffer from the oppressive desert heat; during the day temperatures range in the vicinity of 40 degrees (centigrade) and fall to about 20 degrees at night. The tents are no protection against the dust and sand. Roll calls are held three times a day: first at 6 a.m., when the detainees sit on the ground outside their tents, their hands behind their backs, their legs bent and their heads bent forward. They must keep close track of the numbers being called out to be ready to give their names at the right moment. The toughest roll call is the one held at noon in the heat of the day.

In the morning they are required to fold up their tent flaps and are forbidden to unroll them until nightfall. The food they receive consists mostly of beans and is invariably insufficient. Upon release, Mussa said, every prisoner discovers that he has lost 10 kilos inside.

When the warders decide to carry out a search, they issue orders for the entire contents of the tents, including mattresses, bed planks, blankets and personal belongings, to be removed. These searches include body checks on the prisoners and are carried out under the burning sun, continuing for between three or four hours. At their conclusion, everything is moved back into the tents and the detainees are forced to stand with their arms raised in the air.

Mussa went on to describe solitary confinement: prisoners' hands and feet are bound and pulled back until their bodies assume a banana-like shape.

Medical treatment in the camp is provided on a daily basis for only 10 people per unit. Moreover, the medical care that is provided falls far short of any conceivable standard of adequate treatment. Rather than equip themselves with stethoscopes, camp doctors carry sticks which they use to strike sick detainees, accusing them of shamming illness. In the end, irrespective of their ailment, the sick are given an Akamol tablet and told to drink lots of water. But the detainees cannot comply with the doctors instructions as the rationed water supply doesn't suffice for (the camp inmates); there isn't enough drinking water and certainly not enough for washing. It is thus clear why serious skin diseases and infections are rife in the camp.

Musagave twoexamples of sickdetainees whose illnesses were exacerbated by the sub-human conditions of the camp: Daoud Matar, who has a heart condition, was examined many times by a doctor; each time, the doctor prescribed Akamol. He was released a few days ago after a lengthy period of imprisonment. Mohammed Statey, who suffers from hemorrhoids, began to hemorrhage seriously during his incarceration. The doctor refused to examine him. Only in the wake of vigorous remonstrations to the camp commander was he allowed to spend three days in his tent.

The second speaker, Mohammed Jabber, a father of seven children, is from (the village of) Bidu in the Ramallah area. He was detained from 17 March to 18 July of this year. The security forces first appeared at his home at the end of January, at a time when his wife was in the hospital. The soldiers carried out a thorough search of his home but all they found were his frightened children in tears. On 4 March, once again, they pounded on his door before dawn. He was arrested and taken by jeep to Ramallah, blindfolded, his hands bound, the soldiers kicked him and hit him with their plastic clubs throughout the course of the ride. His reception in Ramallah and Dahariya was accompanied by insults and an attempt to force him to curse Arafat. When he refused, he was savagely beaten. In Dahariya, his captors received him by making sport of him. Together with other detainees, he was forced to run around the camp while the soldiers beat them. Whoever ran fast was hit less. When finally the "game" came to an end, the prisoners were herded into a room which held more than 160 prisoners, and from 10p.m. to 1 a.m. they werebeaten without let-up. Jaber vomited and fainted after a soldier bashed his head against a wall.

Routine punishments in Ansar 3 involve extreme humiliation. Describing them at the press conference, Jaber grew pale and embarrassed. Sometimes an inmate would be forced to stand up against the wall, told that the wall was his wife, and ordered to have sexual relations with (the wall). Another punishment consists of savagely sticking a club up a detainee's rectum.

Jaber went on to speak about the intolerable hygienic conditions in the camp: mosquitoes and flies are part and parcel of camp life, as are skin diseases and showers granted only once every 8-10 days. Whoever wants to wash his clothes, he related, is forced to stand around naked until they dry, as every prisoner has only one set of clothes. The warders take advantage of this to mete out punishments and beatings. The routine punishment for those caught naked is to make them stand in the blistering sun. The detainees were forbidden to sing, exercise or talk to anyone from another unit. It happened more than once that an inmate got word that his son was in adifferent unit; however, all intercourse between them was prohibited. Those who tried to establish contact and were caught were beaten and placed in solitary.

On 15 May, 1988, the last day of Ramadan, the detainees were given a "holiday present" from the prison administration: they were ordered to sit in the burning sun. When they refused to comply they were attacked with tear gas. There were also cases of food poisoning when all the detainees began to feel ill. In one case, the camp doctor himself said the detainees were suffering the results of food poisoning. But when one of the prisoners complained about it to the camp commander, he was beaten and the commander adamantly claimed the doctor was lying. However, in the end it became clear that the food had gone bad.

The handsome face of Walid Al-Sayfi, a sixteen years old from Jerusalem, revealed nothing of what he underwent in the camp. Only the mature look in his eyes, the pain in his voice, and his last-minute hesitations over whether to reveal his name, show something of what is going on inside him. In a dry but decisive voice, the young man spoke about the punishment he received because he dared to look point blank at a soldier during roll call. He was put into a room known as the "whitewash room" where prisoners are forced to cover their naked bodies with whitewash. Then they are forced outside, into the burning sun where they wait for the whitewash todry. The drying process takes about six hours, during which time the material scalds the body. And then a warder comes over yielding a club and slowly beats away the whitewash, and with it a layer of skin. (Prof. Shahak, a Chemistry lecturer at the Hebrew University, explained that the whitewash, in addition to burning the skin, poisons it.)

The youth went on to describe how snakes and scorpions would get into the tent and the detainees would wake up in the morning with marks on their bodies. They set up a night watch against these creatures.

Al-Sayfi has five brothers, two of whom are imprisoned. He was arrested on 14 April, 1988. Soldiers burst into his home and carried out a search. He spent three days in Ramallah, then five days in Dahariya, and was then transferred to Ansar 3.

It should be noted that the three speakers were not interrogated even once during their entire imprisonment, and charge sheets against them were never submitted. They were arrested without explanations being given, save for secret files that were submitted to the appeal board.

Prof. Shahak closed the press conference on a personal note. He said as someone who had been in Bergen Belsen, that many things were repeating themselves and pointed to a kind of Nazification. (104)


The greatest cause celebre of the early part of this century was the incarceration of French Army Captain Alfred Dreyfus in the notorious hell-hole of the French colonial prison systern. Devil's Island. In Ansar I the Zionists emulated the terrible conditions of that infamous prison. The international outcry was so severe that they closed Ansar I. But Ansar I has now been reincarnated as Ansar 2 and Ansar 3.

Ansar2, or Al Katibeh, is adetention camp for "lost souls," Palestinian prisoners held in a concentration camp without prison status. In a report prepared by Anita Vitullo in cooperation with the field workers and staff of the Palestine Human Rights Information Center, the conditions of Ansar 2 prisoners were documented:

In Ansar 2, like Fara'a detention center, detainees have been accorded no rights whatsoever, and since the advice of longer-term prisoners is not available, these young men do not even know what their rights should be nor how to fight for them.

In the first days of detention in December 1986, excess prisoners were kept outside, then moved into rooms with armed soldiers guarding 24 hours per day inside and the door kept open. Prisoners could not walk, talk to one another or eat without permission. Army surveillance was constant. They could not wash or even take adrink of water. They were taken only once a day to the outside toilets -holes dug in the open sand - where they were watched under gunpoint.

Lawyer Khaled al-Kidra, one of the first lawyers to enter Ansar 2 in December 1986, said of their physical state: "Nothing is for the prisoners. Everything belongs to the soldiers. Boys brought to the camp may stay 2 to 3 days without food or blankets. Ansar 2 is not aprison, it is an Israeli army camp.

"When I managed to visit the prison three or four days after it was opened, I saw more than 120 prisoner crammed into each of two cells. I know because I could see their shoes outside the room. They could not smoke or eat, there were no blankets despite the extreme cold on the beachfront."

Detainee Tawfiq recounted:

"There was no space to walk. We were 23 persons in the room. It's not possible to be together for 24 hours andnot talk. Yet we weren't allowed to walk or talk. We had two pieces of bread each with a bit of cheese and jam, and no water to drink. On our first day in Ansar 2, December 25, we made a hunger strike to protest our arrest but the authorities wouldn't discuss our strike. We asked for a doctor, I spoke Hebrew to the guards, this is how we communicated."

Thirty-four-year-old Khader Mughrabi credited a soldier who confirmed their complaints to his superiors. Mughrabi testified in his affidavit:

"Breakfast was a slice of bread and a little jam. It was only after abusing us that we were allowed one gallon of drinking water for the room and to go to the toilet. The toilet was two holes in the ground outside the rooms under the sky. Two people used to go out together and while doing their needs, the soldiers stood in front of them. Sometimes we did not have toilet paper. In our complaint to the officer of the camp we told him about this contemptible situation and one of the military policemen testified on our side (which was an extremely humane deed)."

Another detainee added that they had no defense against the weather: "It was terribly cold. The door was always open and the wind blew in on us fr im the sea. There was no heat in the room."

Adil al-Yazuli, a fieldworker for a human rights organization, was detained in Ansar for one week December 10-17. Hemade detailed mental notes of the health conditions in the camp at the time of his arrest and later:

"Five prisoners shared one blanket. Prisoners were prevented from bathing, since there was no bathroom. Some prisoners had no bath for three months and could not change their underwear or clothes for one month. They have to wait three or four hours for their turn for the toilet since there were only two shallow latrines for 200 prisoners. Prisoners urinate next to the fence, only 2 meters away from the door to the room - which made a bad small and unsanitary conditions.

"Underdifferent pretexts, mattresses wereconfiscated and prisoners are ordered to sit on the floor, as a collective punishment.

"Medical care: The doctor who makes a round of the rooms on certain days is more severe than the wardens. He gives aspirin forevery illness, whether it's headache, stomach pain, heart condition, rheumatism ....

"Food: Every 9 prisoners share a loaf of bread, in addition to a piece of egg or cheese for breakfast. Every nine prisoners share a 300-gram can of meat. There are no fruits or drinks. Under different pretexts, the whole meal would be cancelled, as a collective punishment."

A 17-year-old high school student, finally released without charge after 12 difficult days in Ansar, reported on what physical conditions were like in mid-February:

"There were not enough covers to go around, there were only 2 blankets for 3 people and no mattresses. Thirteen people had to share one long loaf of bread. Our diet was a bit of jam and a square of cheese, rice, lettuce and bread. There were 6 hours between these small meals and no tea. Once a day we were taken outside to the toilet. other than that, there was a tin can in the room for us to urinate in. Once, on the fifth or sixth day of detention, we were allowed to take a shower."

In reports heard from Ansar 2 two months later, lawyer Mohammed Abu Shaban said improvements had been minimal. Themost critical situation was the lackof food. Although a loaf of bread was now shared by 4 instead of 7 detainees, often there were not enough loaves for the room. One plate of noodles or rice, the only cooked food available, was shared by five people. There was no meat given prisoners other than one slice of mortadella (processed meat), no fruit and only a little jelly or margarine. There were 30 detainees in each of two rooms. Sometimes prisoners were allowed 2 trips to the toilet instead of the usual one. Every 30 or 40 days, prisoners could share a cold bath, but water was insufficient and a group of 4 persons were given 5 minutes to bathe. Prisoners said some of the soldiers beat them or threw stones on them in the bath, cursed and spit at them.

The detention camp at Al-Katibeh was not set up to accommodate large numbers of people and especially over any lengthy of time. Even whenit became obvious that at least toilet facilities would have to be constructed, military authorities running the camp did nothing. Compounding the unsanitary and primitive physical conditions of Ansar 2 which showed the army authorities' disinterest in the health of the detainees under its charge, was the deliberate maltreatment of these young boys - in some cases to extract confessions but most often without reason. (105)


Ill treatment toward the detainees began with their arrest and many reported being beaten en route to Ansar 2. Once there, detainees suffered constant humiliation and petty harassment and some were victims of sadistic treatment and serious physical abuse. The ill treatment appeared systematic and irrational - that is, unconnected to the charges, if any, levelled against the youth, or to the behavior of the detainees. The point, said one Gaza youth who had been held for one week in Ansar 2, was to "suppress the nationalist feelings of the youth and to destroy their sense of their own humanity."

When the first detainees emerged from Ansar 2, Palestinian lawyers, physicians and relatives of detainees were alarmed by their reports and held sit-ins on December 15 and 16 at the ICRC (Red Cross) offices in Gaza to draw attention to the conditions in the detention camp. At a Jerusalem press conference called by Gaza lawyers and the Red Crescent, December 17, just released detainees gave the first public accounts of how they were treated in Ansar 2. Sa'adi Ammar, 24, describing his experience:

"They ordered us into a room where we were made to sit on the floor. They then started beating us with clubs and rifle butts. With each blow they would say things like this: 'This is for Begin, this is for Shamir, this is for the Prophet.' ... At 2.00 a.m. they woke us up and made us repeat: 'I am adonkey, I am a pig.' ... In the morning we were made to sit down and stand up and sit down again in quick succession, all the while forced to repeat phrases like, 'I love Israel and I hate the PLO.'

"Soldiers from the Givati brigade, which was attacked near the Dung Gate in Jerusalem two months ago, stood by saying: 'You threw bombs at usand we are going to kill you."'

Sa'adi also witnessed the beating of asmall boy: "Yasser Hut, 13, was brutally beaten by a soldier. He begged the soldier to stop, saying that he was dying. This did not affect the soldier who told him, 'Then I will beat you until you die,' and he continued beating" (Al Awdeh, December 21, 1986).

Another former detainee summarized the situation:

"Once the prisoner arrives in Ansar 2 camp, military police and soldiers beat him severely, for more than one hour. Then he is stripped of his clothes, and soldiers search and beat him. Then his hands are put in plastic handcuffs for several days ....

'For the slightest reason, sometimes for no reason, one prisoner is taken out of the room, soldiers bind his hands and legs and beat him severely, in order to intimidate the others."

Tawfiq recounted: "I heard them beating others outside the room. Others were beaten in the open and kept outside with their hands tied."

Khader Mughrabi spent almost half of his 34 years in Israeli prisons and so is fully aware of the rights of prisoners. Khader, who now runs a clothing shop in Gaza, was arrested again on December 9, 1986, and detained for six days. Below he describes his reception, treatment and a visit by the Red Cross:

"On Tuesday, December 9, 1986, at 11 p.m., military forces came to my house and ordered me to go with them. They handcuffed me with plastic handcuffs and blindfolded me. I thought that it is a fascist procedure to impose order because a riot was taking place. When we reached the detention center they pulled me savagely from the car, started to beat me and put me in a room. I heard people shouting from pain. Then I was physically attacked like the others with hands, clubs, and rifle butts. These reception procedures were practiced against everybody. The procedure lasted between half an hour and an hour. I was beaten for a longer time because one of the soldiers took my identity card from me at the house and did not hand it over to the people in charge at the military camp. This delayed my entrance to the camp with the rest. I was forced to stay standing, and was beaten and humiliated. After giving up finding my identity card, they took me to room 3 where a soldier kicked me and threw me a blanket.

"Before taking me to room 3, they took off the blindfold and handcuffed me from the front instead of behind my back. When 1 entered the room, I saw the detainees sitting on the floor not moving and not speaking. Two armed soldiers ordered us to put the blankets and the few mattresses in one comer of the room and then ordered us to sit on the floor. They suppressed anyone who tried to speak and forced us to stand facing the wall and hold our hands up. They kicked some of us from behind ...

"On Thursday, December 11 at 9 p.m., an officer entered the room and ordered the handcuffs taken off. It was the first night that we slept without cuffs. The next afternoon, a representative of the Red Cross accompanied by a soldier entered the room, looked around and went out without saying a word.

"One of the soldiers kicked me on my right leg because it was extended. So I shouted at him and the other detainees supported me by shouting and cursing. Immediately, a big number of soldiers came to the room and threatened us with their weapons."

"On Saturday ... at night 1 woke up to the noise of one soldier threatening a youth of 13 years old with a knife. I shouted at the soldier to leave him alone. He came to me and ordered me to keep quiet. He wanted to stand me up by force but I prevented him. Soldiers came into the room, threatened us with weapons and took out the soldier who was there previously ."

"On Sunday we met some Arab lawyers. About 6.30 p.m. procedures for releasing me and other detainees took place."


Mohammed Abu Shabban said detainees told him that on March 30 and 31, 1987 ten boys were beaten and kept handcuffed and blindfolded on the beach just inside the army camp's fence on the seaside. Again on April 6,8 or 9 youth were reported left for two days on the beach, apparently chosen randomly from new and old detainees. They were not given food and were blindfolded and bound and beaten on their feet. Talat Abu Aisheh, 18, was one of these who was softened up for interrogation. He was arrested March 29 from his home in Nusseirat camp and beaten in the police jeep until he arrived at Khan Yunis police station. The following day he was sent to Ansar 2 where, he says,

"They began to torture me. They blindfolded my eyes and handcuffed me. I was left like this - sitting near the seashore and in the open - from Sunday at 2 p.m. to Monday at 6 p.m. They did not permit me to go to the toilet. When I became cold and wanted to zip up my jacket a soldier kicked me in my face.

"Then an intelligence officer took me to the interrogation room, still blindfolded. They asked me if I participated in a demonstration March 9 at Khaled Ibn Walid school. I answered that I did not demonstrate in the schoolyard. I had been in class and was seen by the school administration there. The interrogation was over. Then the intelligence officer took me to sit in the yard outside the rooms and said, "Have mercy on yourself and confess at least one word."

They repeated this process five times, taking me to the interrogation room and sending me out again.

"At 6 p.m. they took me and other youth inside the rooms ... they used to wake us up at 5 a.m. to go to the toilet and if we asked in the middle of the day to go they would not permit us ... They kept assaulting the detainees. For example, Akram Tutar suffered from kidney problems and needed to use the toiletfrequently. Whenhe asked they beat him violently and (once) he fainted. Nahid Barbikh was beaten severely inside (the room)."

This kind of harassment was meant primarily to humiliate, as Adli al-Yazuli explained:

"On several occasions permission to drink water or go to the toilet is conditional: the detainee has to humiliate himself by saying. 'I am a donkey' or 'I am a pig' or saying things that oppose their beliefs or making funny gestures. Soldiers kept on ill-treating, cursing, insulting or threatening the prisoners, sometimes with weapons."

Several detainees reported that soldiers made them clean the grounds during their detention, although the forced labor of detainees is prohibited.

Detainee Bassam said that on February 19, the second day of his detention, soldiers came into his room at 2 a.m. and forced five boys to lay on top of five others, shoes to mouth. "A soldier hit me on my arm and shoulder with his gun," said Bassam whose father hadappealed to themilitary government for a medical release for his son. Bassam suffers from idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura, a rare blood disease affecting blood platelets which makes any blow potentially life-threatening. Despite his delicate condition, he was forced to spend 12 days in detention before his release without charge.


Suhail Abu al-Ata complained in the December 17th press conference that he and other detainees were forced to strip and salute an army officer, and later to kiss each other's buttocks. They were deprived of food for three days and forced to sleep in the open. He said conditions in early December improved after a visit by Red Cross representatives.

Israeli newspapers have been more successful than Palestinian papers in getting stories about the abuse of detainees in Ansar 2 past the censor. Al Hamishmar daily interviewed one detainee from Ansar 2 whose experience so terrified and humiliated him that he insisted on anonymity. This particular story has been reprinted in other accounts of Ansar 2 as an example of the sadistic behavior of the soldiers toward the youth.

"They stripped us of everything but our underwear. Five soldiers opened the windows and for 10-15 minutes beat my friend while I was waiting for my turn. They beat him on all parts of his body, with their fists, clubs and the butts of their guns, and they also kicked him. When they finished beating him, they forced him to insert a cucumber into his anus. They pressured him into forcing it into the end. After that a soldier hit me in the face, and punched me in my genitals. He passed me to the five soldiers who were beating my friend. I refused to insert One cucumber in my rear like my friend. They got angry and beat me severely" (translation from At Fajr, December 25, 1986).

There is no way to estimate the psychological damage for young boys exposed to such calculated brutality. "We, as lawyers, see bad treatment toward the detainees," said Mohammed Abu Shabban. But much of the ill treatment is not visible to the few lawyers allowed to visit the detainees or the infrequent visits of the Red Cross. "Many of the boys are crying in court," said one lawyer who defends political detainees. "Once a judge demanded from a boy 'Why are you crying?' What can you say to him?"' (106)


The conditions in Ansar 3 are, if possible, even more horrible than at Ansar 2. Ansar 3, or Keziot, is in the middle of the Negev desert. Thousands of prisoners are being held there. It is the worst destination for the prisoners swooped up indiscriminately by the Israelis in their futile attempts to crush the Intifada.

Following is a heart-rending appeal from prisoners of Ansar 3 and a protest letter of the International Committee of the Red Cross:


To all people of conscience everywhere, to democratic forces, to all defenders of human rights:

We call on you to rescue us from the camp of slow death, Ansar 3, Negev.

We, the thousands of Palestinian detainees, have been thrown by the Israeli authorities into Ansar 3 detention center with no regard for the simplest judicial formalities, including our right to know the charges leveled against us. We are kept in difficult circumstances under the burning desert sun, where the temperature by day reaches 45 degrees centigrade and drops to below zero at night; in an area teeming with reptiles, insects and rats. But the severity of nature is no match for the cruelty of the soldiers in the detention center, with their arbitrariness and constant brutality and violence. Against us are conducted a war of starvation, thirst and humiliation and a policy of physical and psychological destruction. They leave no method unexplored in realizing their aims; aims which contradict all international conventions and agreements, not to mention all moral and human values.

We are forced to keep our tents open from 5.00 a.m. until midnight, exposed to the searing heat of the sun and the desert's dust and sandstorms. We are forced to sit on the ground for periods up to half an hour three or four times a day, under the scorching sun and the soldiers' pointed guns. No consideration is given the sick and elderly. In addition. we are subjected to insults, curses and other humiliations to our personal and national dignity.

Water is scarce and cut off for many long hours daily. When there is water is it hardly sufficient for drinking, toilet needs and twice-monthly baths in this suffocating heat. We have only one change of clothing. We are not allowed to receive clothes or other necessities from our families; nor are we provided with necessities for washing clothes. Our health is deteriorating; we suffer from general physical depression and various diseases. Health care is virtually nonexistent. The total isolation imposed on us accompanies these conditions; in spite of the length of our detention, the authorities prohibit family visits. We are not allowed to send or receive letters; nor are we allowed to have radios, newspapers, magazines, books, writing paper or pencils. In effect, we are subjected to punitive and inhuman measures; which aim at erasing our human spirit, which deny our human and social being. These measures cancel even those rights granted under the laws governing administrative detention.

We call on you to stand by us to put a stop to organized violence, terrorism and humiliation, leading us to slow death. They are assassinating justice and the potential for peace all human beings long for in this Holy Land.

We urge you to organize delegations of humanitarian organizations and groups to visit this detention center, which lacks everything except the elements of death, terror and murder; and to work towards closing it. We call on you to stand on the side of humanity, to prevent its loss. May all the world hear our voice. (107)


Geneva (ICRC) - The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) learned with consternation that two administrative detainees had been shot dead at the Qeziot military detention center on 16 August, 1988. Some 2,500 persons from the occupied territories are currently being held at the Qeziot center, which is on Israeli territory in the Negev desert. This tragic event occurred when clashes broke out between detainees and the guards, while ICRC delegates were carrying out a routine weekly visit.

The ICRC delegates had noticed during their visit that relations were extremely strained between some of the detainees and members of the Israeli forces present in the camp. Tension was obviously rising and, as the first direct clashes took place between detainees and guards, the delegates cut their visit short and immediately approached the competent authorities.

Ever since the Qeziot camp was opened in March 1988, the ICRC has repeatedly stressed to the Israeli authorities that detention and internment of persons from the occupied territories on Israeli soil, particularly in the harsh climatic conditions prevailing in this case, was not compatible with the provisions of the Fourth Geneva Convention, and could only lead to tension and unrest.

The ICRC deplores these tragic incidents and appeals to the Israeli authorities to take the appropriate measures. (108)


1. Indictment Presented to the International Military Tribunal sitting at Berlin on 18th October, 1945, British Command Paper No. 6696 (London: H. M. Stationery Office, 1945), p. 31.

2. Tom Segev, 1949: The First Israelis (New York: The Free Press, 19861, p. 62.

3. Ibid., p. 63.

4, Al Hamishmar, September 19, 1988.

5. Sunday Times, London, June 19,1977, p. 17, cited in Schoenman, Ralph and Mya Shone, Prisoners of Israel (Santa Barbara, California: Veritas Press, 1984), p. 13.

6. Ibid.

7. Ibid.

8. Ibid.

9. Ibid.

10. Sunday Times, June 19, 1977, p. 18, cited in Schoenmen and Shone, Prisoners of Israel, p. 14.

11. Ibid.

12. Ibid.

13. Ibid.

14. Sunday Times, London, June 19, 1977, p. 18, cited in Schoenman and Shone, p. 15.

15. Ibid., p. 20.

16. International Committee of the Red Cross, Report on Nablus Prison, February 26, 1968, cited in United Nations Special Committee Report, Document A/8089 (1970), para. 107, p. 50, as cited in Schoenman and Shone, p. 15.

17. Sunday Times, London, June 19, 1977, p. 19, cited in Schoenman and Shone, p. 16.

18. Ibid.

19. Sunday Times, London, June 19,1977, p. 19, cited in Schoenman and Shone, p. 17.

20. Ibid.

21. Ibid.

22. Sunday Times, London, June 19, 1977, p. 17, cited in Schoenman and Shone, p. 18.

23. Ibid.

24. Sunday Times, London, June 19, 1977, p. 17, cited in Schoenman and Shone, p. 20.

25. Schoenman and Shone, p. 22.

26. Ibid., p. 26.

27. National Lawyers Guild, Treatment of Palestinians in Israeli-Occupied West Bank and Gaza (New York: 1978), p. 80, cited in Schoenman and Shone, p. 21.

28. Palestine Central Bureau of Statistics, 31 December, 1984.

29. Amnesty International Report 1986 (London: 1986).

30. Law Reports of Trials of War Criminals, Selected and Prepared by the United Nations War Crimes Commission (London: H. M. Stationery Office, 1949), volume 15, p. 101.

31. Franklin P. Lamb, ed., Reason Not the Need: Eyewitness Chronicles of Israel's War in Lebanon (Spokesman, 1984), p. 654.

32. Palestine Central Bureau of Statistics, 3 1 December, 1984.

33. Ibid.

34. Jamil Ala Al-Din and Mezzi Lennan, Prisoners and Prisons in Israel (Ithaca Press, 1978), p. 2.

35. Lamb, Reason Not the Need, pp. 662-663.

36. On the Conditions of Lebanese and Palestinian Prisoners, Arab American Anti-Discrimination Committee Background Paper No. 10, Washington D.C., February 1984.

37. Amnesty International Report 1983 (London: 1984), p. 312.

38. Tally Selinger, Davar, November 29, 1982.

39. New Society, August 23, 1982.

40. Zu Haderech, October 27, 1982.

41. Lamb, pp. 681-685.

42. On the Conditions of Lebanese and Palestinian Prisoners, pp. 5-6.

43. Ha'aretz, November 5, 1982.

44. Law in the Service of Man, A Report on the Treatment of Security Prisoners at the West Bank Prison of Al-Fara'a, Ramallah, April, 1984, pp. 2-9.

45. Lamb, pp. 734-737.

46. Ibid., p. 674.

47. Palestine Central Bureau of Statistics, 3 1 December, 1984.

48. Lamb, pp. 651-652.

49. Ibid., p. 652.

50. Jamil Ala' al-Din and Milli Leman, Prisoners and Prisons in Israel (London: Ithaca Press, 1978), p. 3, as cited in Prisoners of Israel, p. 38.

51. Ibid.

52. Prisoners and Prisons in Israel, p. 11 , cited in Schoenman and Shone, p. 39.

53. Prisoners and Prisons in Israel, p. 12, cited in Schoenman and Shone, p. 39.

54. lbid.

55. Ibid., p. 13, cited in Schoenman and Shone, p. 39.

56. Ibid., cited in Schoenman and Shone, p. 40.

57. Ibid., p. 14, cited in Schoenman and Shone, p. 40.

58. Ibid.

59. Ibid.

60. Ibid., p. 15, cited in Schoenman and Shone, p. 40.

61. Ibid., p. 16, cited in Schoenman and Shone, p. 41.

62. Ibid., p. 19, cited in Schoenman and Shone, p. 41.

63. lbid., p. 20, cited in Schoenman and Shone, p. 41.

64. Ibid., p. 25, cited in Schoenman and Shone, p. 41.

65. Ibid.

66. Ibid., p. 26, cited in Schoenman and Shone, p. 42.

67. Ibid.

68. Ibid., p. 27, cited in Schoenman and Shone, p. 43.

69. Ibid., p. 29, cited in Schoenman and Shone, p. 43.

70. Ibid., p. 30, cited in Schoenman and Shone, p. 43.

71. Lea Tsemel, "Prison Conditions in Israel -An Overview," November 16, 1982, p. 3, cited in Prisoners of Israel, p. 44.

72. Prisoners and Prisons in Israel, pp. 34-35, cited in Schoenman and Shone, p. 44.

73. Schoenman and Shone, p. 46.

74. Prisoners and Prisons in Israel, p. 45, cited in Schoenman and Shone, p. 46.

75. Lea Tsemel and Walid Fahoum, Nafha is a Political Prison," May 13, 1980, cited in Schoenman and Shone, p. 47.

76. Ibid., p. 2, cited in Schoenman and Shone, p. 47.

77. Lea Tsemel and Mohammed Na'amneh, "The Nafha Strike Continues - Report on Conditions Inside," July 20, 1980, p. 1, cited in Schoenman and Shone, p. 48. 78. Ibid.

79. Lea Tsemel, "Report #2 - Transfer of 26 Nafha Hunger Strikers to Ramie Detention," July 21, 1980, p. 1, cited in Schoenman and Shone, p. 49.

80. Ibid.

81. Ibid., p. 2, cited in Schoenman and Shone, p. 50.

82. Lea Tsemel, "Report #3 - Nafha Prisoners Transferred to Ramie - Force Feeding," July 30, 1980, p. 1, cited in Schoenman and Shone, p. 50.

83. Ibid., pp. 1-2, cited in Schoenman and Shone, p. 51.

84. Ibid.

85. Ibid., p. 3, cited in Schoenman and Shone, p. 52.

86. Ibid.

87. Lea Tsemel, "Nafha Hunger Strike - Report on the 4th Week," August 10, 1980, p. 1, cited in Schoenman and Shone, p. 53.

88. Ibid.

89. Schoenman and Shone, p. 53.

90. Lea Tsemel, "Report #5 - The Ceasefire," August 20, 1980, cited in Schoenman and Shone, p. 53.

91. Ibid.

92. Ibid., p. 54.

93. Ibidl.

94. Sunday Times, London, June 19, 1977, p. 19, cited in Schoenman and Shone, p. 54.

95. National Lawyers Guild, Treatment of Palestinians in Israeli-Occupied West Bank and Gaza, (New York: 1978), p. 103, cited in Schoenman and Shone, p. 55.

96. Ibid., p. 105, cited in Schoenman and Shone, p. 55.

97. Al Fujr, March 14, 1984, cited in Schoenman and Shone, p. 56. 98. Ibid., March 28, 1984, cited in Schoenman and Shone, p. 56.

99. Arie Bober, ed., The Other Israel: The Radical Case Against Zionism (Garden City, New York: Anchor Books, 1972), p. 137, citing David Ben Gurion, Divray ha Knesset, Parliament Record #36, p. 1217, cited in Schoenman and Shone, p. 57.

100. The New York Times, November 17,1983, cited in Schoenman and Shone, p. 57.

101. Palestine Central Bureau of Statistics, 31 December, 1984.

102. Human Rights in the Occupied Territories 1979-1982 (Tel Aviv: International Center for Peace in the Middle East, 1983), p. 30.

103. Endpapers Nine, Spokesman 47, Winter 1984-85, p. 30.

104. Information Bulletin of the Communist Party of Israel, August-September, 1988.

105. Anita Vitullo, Ansar 2: Detention, Humiliation and Intimidution (Chicago: DataBase Project on Palestinian Human Rights. February 19881, pp. 14- 16.

106. Ibid., pp. 23-27.

107. DataBase Project on Palestinian Human Rights, Human Rights Packet, Chicago, 1989.

108. Ibid.

Go to chapter 23

Encyclopedia of the Palestine Problem
By Issa Nakhleh

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