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An Israeli military uniform. Alamy Stock Photo
Sde Teiman

Inhumane detention and torture of Gazans reported at Israeli military prison

The accounts tally with previous testimony from survivors released back into Gaza by the Israel Defence Forces (IDF).

PALESTINIANS IN ISRAELI custody have been subjected to torture and kept in inhumane conditions at a repurposed military base in Israel since the Hamas attack of October last year, according to a new report by US news outlet CNN. 

In its report titled ‘Strapped down, blindfolded, held in diapers: Israeli whistleblowers detail abuse of Palestinians in shadowy detention centre’, CNN reported the testimonies of former detainees as well as whistleblowers who worked at the Sde Teiman detention centre about 30km from Gaza.

The conditions and treatment of people – detained without charge in these facilities – described in the report are horrific and tally with previous testimony from survivors released back into Gaza by the Israel Defence Forces (IDF). 

Leaked photographs taken from inside the detention centre show dozens of men bound and blindfolded, sitting on the ground surrounded by razor wire fencing. Prisoners are also reportedly kept in adult diapers and stripped naked upon arrival. 

In some cases, doctors amputated people’s limbs after they were tightly zip tied for prolonged periods. Sources who spoke to CNN said that some of the medical staff were underqualified and performing procedures beyond their level of experience and training. 

Prisoners at the site are not permitted to speak or move and face beatings if they do, according to witness testimony. Other forms of reported torture included forcing prisoners to hold stress positions.

Israeli officials have denied that prisoners are mistreated and said that issues raised are always investigated. 

“The IDF ensures proper conduct towards the detainees in custody. Any allegation of misconduct by IDF soldiers is examined and dealt with accordingly. In appropriate cases, MPCID (Military Police Criminal Investigation’s Division) investigations are opened when there is suspicion of misconduct justifying such action,” the IDF said. 

“Detainees are handcuffed based on their risk level and health status. Incidents of unlawful handcuffing are not known to the authorities.”

Palestinians are captured and taken to the Sde Teiman facility where they are held under Israel’s Unlawful Combatants Law, which allows for people to be detained for up to 45 days without an arrest warrant. 

A Palestinian-Bosnian doctor from the Gazan Indonesian hospital, Dr Mohammed Al-Ran, was held in detention for 44 days.

He told CNN: “Our days were filled with prayer, tears, and supplication. This eased our agony.”

“We cried and cried and cried. We cried for ourselves, cried for our nation, cried for our community, cried for our loved ones. We cried about everything that crossed our minds.”

Al-Ran said that he was made a kind of intermediary between the detainees and the military guards, which meant he could remove his blindfold. But that only made the reality of the situation all the more clear, he said.

“Part of my torture was being able to see how people were being tortured,” he said. “At first you couldn’t see. You couldn’t see the torture, the vengeance, the oppression.

“When they removed my blindfold, I could see the extent of the humiliation and abasement … I could see the extent to which they saw us not as human beings but as animals.”

At a medical section of the prison, people have been blindfolded and strapped to their hospital beds, one source said. 

“If you imagine yourself being unable to move, being unable to see what’s going on, and being completely naked, that leaves you completely exposed,” the source said.  “I think that’s something that borders on, if not crosses to, psychological torture,” the whistleblower medic said. 

“Just being there felt like being complicit in abuse,” said another.

This is not the first time Israel has been accused of detaining people in inhumane conditions and subjecting them torture but the CNN report adds yet more allegations and witness reports. 

The main UN aid agency in Palestine, UNRWA, last month accused the IDF of using torture to force confessions following the Hamas attack on 7 October. 

In February, a panel of UN experts expressed alarm at “credible allegations of egregious human rights violations” against Palestinian women and girls since the Hamas attack, including killings, beatings and rape.

There are currently over 9,000 “security” inmates held in prisons in Israel, compared to around 5,000 in October last year. That figure does not account for the people taken captive in Gaza since October as Israel has not disclosed that number. 


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