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Report: Israel's Shin Bet uses torture illegally in interrogations

Two human rights groups say Palestinian prisoners routinely abused, though Israel dismisses the charges.

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The Israeli security service agency Shin Bet routinely violates international law by torturing Palestinian prisoners, according to a new report released by two Israeli human rights organizations.

B'Tselem and HaMoked, both of which work to fight violations of Palestinians' human rights, write in their joint report that their findings came from interviews with 73 West Bank Palestinians who were arrested and interrogated by Shin Bet, also known as the Israel Security Agency (ISA), between July 2005 and January 2006. The report, published Sunday, found that Shin Bet's interrogations, which averaged 35 days long for the 73 Palestinians interviewed, routinely included physical and mental abuse that approached torture, as well as outright torture in many cases.

...the ISA routinely operates an interrogation system involving the psychological and physical ill-treatment of interrogees. This system includes several key aspects: The isolation of the interrogee from the outside world; the use of conditions of incarceration as a means to apply psychological pressure and to debilitate the interrogee physically; the shackling of the interrogee in painful positions; the humiliation of the interrogee; and the use of threats. In a minority of cases, probably those defined as "ticking bombs," the ISA also uses violent interrogation methods that constitute full-scale torture (beating, the tightening of handcuffs, the sudden pulling of the body, the bending of the back, and so on).
Moreover, many ISA interrogees arrive at the interrogation facility after having been "softened up" by the soldiers who execute the arrest and who hold the detainees pending their delivery to the ISA. This "softening up" includes beating, painful shackling, humiliation, and the denial of vital needs. Although we do not have evidence to show that the motives of these soldiers or their commanders is to "soften up" the detainees ahead of their interrogation, this is the outcome in practical terms.

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