Israeli Security Establishment Accused of Spike in Alleged Torture

On Thursday, February 19, the Public Committee Against Torture in Israel (PCATI) accused the Israel Security Agency (“Shin Bet”), IDF, Police Force, and Israel Prisons Service (IPS) of a spike in alleged torture and abuse of detainees starting in June of last year during “Operation Brothers’ Keeper” and continuing through the deadly Gaza war and elevated tensions in the area until the end of 2014. According to statistics gathered by the PCATI and based on hundreds of prison visits, there were 66 alleged acts of torture or abuse in the second half of 2014, up from 19 alleged acts in the first half of the year.

PCATI Director Dr. Ishai Menuchin

PCATI Director Dr. Ishai Menuchin (Photo: Social TV)

Of the 85 alleged acts for all of 2014, PCATI said that 48 complaints were submitted “to various investigatory powers,” including the Justice Ministry. The 48 complaints themselves involve fewer than 48 Palestinians as some Palestinians submitted multiple complaints, but no exact number of persons was provided. Breaking down the 48 complaints: 23 were filed against the Shin Bet, 14 against the IDF, nine against the police or Border Police, and two against the IPS.

Since June 2014, 18 complaints claimed their interrogators used the “frog” or “banana” (contorted) positions against them, 19 complained of sleep deprivation, 12 of beatings during interrogation, eight of sexual harassment or assault during the interrogation, seven of physical violence during arrest, and two of being physically shaken against Supreme Court dictates. PCATI said that the use of the “frog” and “banana” positions were most noteworthy since these methods had been used only 10 times in the prior four years.

PCATI Director Dr. Ishai Menuchin said, “some of the torture methods that were used are in full violation of Supreme Court decisions…including giving advance approval for torture.” He said that at least three detainees had been told by their interrogators that their torture had been preapproved by the Attorney-General or other officials – which he called illegal. Menuchin added that some allegedly tortured detainees were tortured only after having been in administrative detention for some time, thereby casting doubt on the allegations that those tortured could provide updated and current information to help stop a “ticking bomb.” For approximately a thousand similar complaints filed since 2001, not a single criminal investigation has been opened to date.


Public Commission against Torture in Israel