Tony Greenstein | 27 February 2013 | Post Views:

Only in Israel does the Judiciary Approve Shackling Children and Torturing Prisoners

Arafat Jaradat – tortured to death by the Middle East’s ‘only democracy’

 Below are 3 articles on the shocking torturing to death of Arafat Jaradat, a Palestinian civilian, by the secret police (Shin Bet) of the Middle East’s only democracy. We can be sure that when Israel tortures Palestinians, it does so democratically. No doubt it will hold an inquiry with the torturers judging the torturer and finding ‘mistake’s were made. No doubt the angle with which Arafat was hung was not right. The doctors didn’t pick up the signs of complications in time and of course the prisoner was to blame for not talking quickly and confessing. We will go through this kind of mockery with the BBC giving Mark Regev time enough to justify the unjustifiable.

But let us be quite clear.  Torture in  Israel is as much official policy as it is in Iraq and Saudi Arabia.  But whereas the latter don’t claim to be western democracies Israel likes to pretend it is ‘cool’ and ‘friendly’ and ‘green’ and ‘moral’ etc.  It says it should be judged by different standards and then complains when it is.

Left Zionists will bemoan the ‘damage’ that the occupation is doing to those nice Israeli boys. The Arabs are to blame for making them into animals. But let us not forget that torture was rife under Israeli Labour governments and indeed, as Israel Shahak pointed out, it lessened under Prime Minister Menachem Begin who, because of his involvement in Irgun had some moral objections that ‘left’ Zionists never had.   And we should not forget, despite the undoubted hypocrisy of the Palestinian Authority, that the use of torture and deaths through torture are rife there too. As sub-contractors for Israel and the United States, the Abbas junta can match anything Israel does but we should not forget that the source of the iniquity lies in the Israeli state.

[An Israeli
actor is seen demonstrating one of several standard torture techniques
reportedly used by the Shin Bet. Photo by AP]

In particular it was the Israeli High Court which on September 6 1999 upheld the Landau Report of 1987 and approved the use of ‘moderate physical pressure’ i.e. torture.  The 9 man Supreme Court was headed by the ‘liberal’ Aharon Barak. 

I print an open letter from the indefatiguable campaigner, Dr Derek Summerfield, who has campaigned long and hard against the complicity of the Israeli Medical Association in the supervision of torture by Israeli doctors. Dr Summerfield Israel Medical Association Defends Torture Doctors and Cuts Ties with Israel’s Physicians for Human Rights  He has castigated the World Medical Association which has given the IMA carte blanche and even appointed the head of the IMA, Dr Yoram Blacher, as its President. The same mentality that infused the SS doctors and Mengele is on display again. Just as in Guantanamo and other centres of US and state torture, doctors turn the Hyppocratic Oath into the Hypocrites Oath.

Below is a Press Release from the Palestine Committtee for Human Rights and an article from the veteran Israeli civil rights activist and journalist, Amira Hass, writing in the Israeli newspaper Ha’aretz.

But of one thing we should be clear. A democracy doesn’t torture its residents. Israel as an occupier of Palestinian land and a ruler over those who have no say in the Occupation, cannot by definition be democratic. And as Prisoner X, a Jewish prisoner who ‘committed suicide’ when imprisoned without trial or indeed any publicity, 3 years ago shows, the erosion of democratic rights may begin with the Palestinians but ends up with Israeli Jews too. Whereas the British and French empires could separate, by distance, their undemocratic barbaric practices in the colonies from the motherland, for Israel this is not possible because the Occupation of the Territories is adjacent too indeed a part of Israel itself. That is another reason why only a single unitary and secular democratic state is the solution.

Tony Greenstein

Dear fellow signatories and supporters of the campaign against collusion by doctors/Israeli Med Assoc with torture 
Palestinian officials are demanding an enquiry into the death of a Palestinian prisoner, Arafat Jaradat, aged 30, who collapsed while being interrogated last weekend, 5 days after being arrested for suspected stone throwing last year. Israeli officials were reported in several London newspapers as saying that he died of a “sudden heart attack” while being interrogated, saying also that 2 days earlier he had been examined by doctors (this means Israeli doctors serving in interrogation units) and found to be in good health.

The Palestinian Authority Ministry of Detainee Affairs allege that Israeli interrogators used hanging techniques and sleep deprivation to torture Jaradat in al-Jalameh prison, a day before he died in Megiddo prison. They cite a witness who said: “When I sat next to him he told me that he had serious pains in his back and other parts of his body because he was being beaten up and hanged for many long hours while he was being investigated”. There are reported bruising and fractures to his trunk consistent with torture- though Israeli authorities are saying these are the result of attempts to resuscitate him. A 30 year old man in good health is detained and 5 days later is dead. In a young man how likely is this to result from a heart attack unconnected to his treatment, as Israeli authorities allege! So by Israel’s own admission Jaradat was seen by Israeli doctors 2 days earlier and they found him in good health. The key medical ethical question is what were these doctors examining him for, if not to assess whether he could withstand torture. This is precisely what the campaign regarding medical collusion with torture in Israel was launched for in 2009, and continues to run.

Collusion by Israeli Medical Association in Torture

I am reminded that in 1993 a ‘fitness for interrogation’ form came to light, to be signed by a doctor after examining a prisoner, recording medical suitability for torture. The examination of Jaradat is unlikely to have been for any other reason, and this is established practice even if a ‘fitness for interrogation’ form is no longer used. (At the time the Israeli Medical Association feigned surprise that such a form existed; they stated publicly that such a form should not be used (they could hardly do otherwise once it had reached the media) but did not state that Israeli doctors should speak out and refuse to co-operate with interrogation practices deploying torture. This was entirely in line with the IMA’s longstanding and multiply documented defence of current practice and thus of torture as state policy). 

students take cover from tear gas fired by Israeli security forces
during clashes in the village of Saair following the death of a
Palestinian prisoner held in Israel. Photograph: Hazem Bader/AFP/Getty

Also in the early 1990s an Amnesty International paper on torture in Israel, documenting what Amnesty called the entirely institutionalised collusion of Israeli doctors, was entitled with intended irony “Under Constant Medical Supervision“. This was a reference to what Israeli authorities had stated in supposed defence of Israeli prison conditions and prisoner rights following public allegations about ill-treatment and torture of Palestinian detainees! As Amnesty noted, this was an unintended admission of the role of doctors in the whole process! You will recall the 2007 report “Ticking Bombs” from the Public Committee Against Torture in Israel, using detailed testimony from 7 Palestinian ex-prisoners. It was clear that on a routine basis Israeli doctors would see detainees before, during or after interrogation with torture, did not take a medical history (they knew of course how the injuries had been inflicted, which in one case was spinal damage), returned the detainees to the interrogators, and did not speak out. These doctors were an intrinsic part of a process whose everyday output was torture, as they are to this day and doubtless now in the Jaradat case, and their presence gives license and legitimacy to the torturers.

The Neutering of the World Medical Association

They, and even more culpably the IMA, are failing the test set by the World Medical Association’s Declaration of Tokyo, which mandates doctors not just to have nothing to do with torture, but to protest and speak out when encountered. One scandal our campaign has uncovered is how the WMA has been neutered when it comes to Israel- though it will take action when alleged offenders are in Bahrein or Iran or Nigeria.

Derek Summerfield Campaign Convenor PCHR Palestinian Centre for Human Rights

PRESS RELEASE Ref: 22/2013 Date: 27 February 2013 Time: 11:00 GMT

Palestine Campaign for Human Rights
In light of findings of autopsy report on Arafat Jaradat’s body, PCHR calls for independent Internal investigation 

The autopsy report prepared by Dr Saber al-‘Aloul, Director of the Palestinian Medico-legal Institute on Arafat Jaradat, a Palestinian detainee who died in an Israeli prison, has concluded that Jaradat’s death was caused by nervous shock resulting from severe pain, which was caused by multiple injuries inflicted through direct and extreme torture.

Arafat Shalish Shaheen Jaradat, 30, from Sa’ir village northeast of Hebron in the southern West Bank, died in Megiddo Prison inside Israel on Saturday, 23 February 2013. Israeli authorities claimed that he died due to an apparent heart attack, but the Palestinian Authority and numerous human rights organisations raised doubts concerning the Israeli narrative, and are calling for an independent investigation into Jaradat’s death.

An autopsy of Jaradat’s body was performed in the Israeli National Institute of Forensic Medicine in Abu Kabir in the presence of Dr Saber al-‘Aloul and two Israeli physicians on the day after his death. Contrary to Israeli claims that Jaradat died due to an apparent heart attack, the autopsy showed, according to the Palestinian physician’s report, that “the heart muscle is perfectly healthy; no signs of harm or signs of a recent or previous myocardial infarction […]” The report indicated that there were multiple injuries on Jaradat’s body. For example, the report stated: There are recent excoriations and bruising on the inside of the lower lip; there is severe bruising on the upper right back; there are circle-shaped bruises on the bottom of the front right side of the chest; there is bruising on the facis lateralis brachii of the left elbow; there is bruising on the back of the right arm; there are deep bruises, 4×9 centimetre in diameter, on the muscle of the upper left shoulder, adjacent to the spine, below the neck; the bruises damaged the tissue of the muscle; there are 4×10 centimetre bruises on the right side of the chest; the bruises penetrated the skin and caused damage to the muscle tissue; they were located 27 centimetres from the spine, 53 centimetres below the top of the head; there is a fracture in the second and third ribs on the front left side with bruises around the fracture; and there is a fracture in the second rib on the front right side of the chest. The report emphasised that all fractures or wounds were recent, that the injuries were severe, and had resulted from direct and extreme torture.

The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR) stresses that torture is an international crime that amounts to a crime against humanity and it constitutes a blatant violation of human rights, which can never be justified under any circumstance. It is prohibited under several international instruments, including the Convention against Torture of 1984, which was ratified by Israel in 1991, and the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court.

According to PCHR’s documentation, this case is part of a phenomenon in which thousands of Palestinian detainees in Israeli prisons and detention facilities are subjected to torture by Israeli security services.

In light of the above, PCHR:

  1. Calls for establishing an international inquiry to investigate the circumstances of Jaradat’s death in Megiddo prison;
  2. Calls upon the High Contracting Parties to the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment to refer this case to the UN Committee against Torture;
  3. Calls upon the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment to investigate this incident, which highlights a pervasive phenomenon in Israeli prisons and detention facilities;
  4. Calls upon the UN Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights in the Palestinian Territories Occupied Since 1967 to follow up this case and report on it to the United Nations; and
  5. Calls on the United Nations, the International Committee of the Red Cross and the international community to put pressure on Israel to put an end to the use of torture and to open prisons and detention facilities for monitoring.

Haaretz | Feb.25, 2013


For years, Palestinian detainees and prisoners have complained about sleep deprivation, painful and prolonged handcuffing, humiliation, beatings and medical neglect. By international standards, this is torture.

By Amira Hass

Arafat Jaradat, 30, died while under interrogation by the Shin Bet security service. Every week dozens if not hundreds of Palestinians start down the road he began on February 18.

Dozens of Israelis whose names are unknown are on a parallel track: the soldiers who make the arrest in the dead of night, the military doctor who examines the new detainee, Shin Bet interrogators in their changing shifts; Israel Prison Service guards, workers at the prison clinic, and the judge who extends the remand.

True, thousands of others take this road or sometimes a longer and harder one – and stay alive. This is probably what the Shin Bet and the prison service will say in their defense. But from the Palestinian perspective, every stop on the road of detention and interrogation involves enormous physical and psychological pain that the army, the police, the Shin Bet and the prison service inflict intentionally.

This goes well beyond the suffering that should be caused by taking away a person’s liberty and issuing an indictment. For years, Palestinian detainees and prisoners have complained about sleep deprivation, painful and prolonged handcuffing, humiliation, beatings and medical neglect. By international standards, this is torture.

Jaradat was not a ticking bomb. He was arrested on suspicion of throwing stones and an incendiary device at Israeli targets. After three days of interrogation the police asked the court (in the name of the Shin Bet) to extend his remand for another 15 days for questioning. The remand hearing took place on Thursday, February 21, at the Shin Bet’s Kishon interrogation facility, in front of a military judge, Maj. David Kadosh. The judge ordered the remand for 12 days.

Unclear confession

Kamil Sabbagh, an attorney for the Palestinian Authority’s Prisoner Affairs Ministry, asked the police investigator at the hearing whether there were other suspicions against his client; he was told there were not. He asked whether Jaradat had confessed, and the police investigator answered: “partially.” Sabbagh concluded that Jaradat had confessed to throwing stones.

Experience shows that the additional days of interrogation – many, considering the minor nature of the offenses – were not intended merely to extract more confessions, but to get Jaradat to implicate others or to gather personal information, even of an embarrassing nature, to use in the future. From reports by detainees to their attorneys, it’s clear that sleep deprivation combined with painful and prolonged handcuffing is very common. As we learn at military court and elsewhere, people confess to things they haven’t done or implicate others falsely, only to be allowed to sleep.

In the short time Jaradat and his attorney had before the remand hearing, Jaradat, who was suffering from a herniated disc, was able to tell Sabbagh that he was in pain from prolonged sitting. Judge Kadosh knew about the pain from a secret report he had been shown.While the judge was writing his decision, Jaradat told Sabbagh that conditions were difficult for him in isolation and he wanted to be moved to another cell. Sabbagh had the impression that Jaradat was under severe psychological stress, and told the judge this.

The judge then added to his decision: “The defense attorney requests the court’s permission to present the matter of the suspect’s mental health while in a cell alone, and his concerns about psychological damage. He requests that the suspect be examined and properly attended to.”

The role of informants

The remand hearing took place at 10 A.M. Thursday. As of Sunday, Sabbagh did not know when Jaradat had been moved to Megiddo Prison, where he died. Palestinian organizations representing prisoners say one possibility is that he was placed in a cell with informants at Megiddo.

Unlike Shin Bet interrogations, which are documented in memos, the existence of informants is not officially acknowledged by the authorities. Informants use various means to extract information, whether true or false. They boast about their exploits as members of Palestinian organizations, they suggest that the detainee is a collaborator because he does not discuss his actions with them, and they threaten him.

The investigation of Jaradat’s death must go through all phases of his detention and interrogation – and those of thousands of others. But any interrogation will be flawed from the outset because, by authorization of the High Court of Justice, Shin Bet interrogations are not filmed.

Only two weeks ago, on February 6, justices Asher Grunis, Hanan Melcer and Noam Sohlberg turned down a petition by four human rights groups demanding the annulment of a 2003 law letting the police forgo the filming or audiotaping of security suspects’ interrogations. The organizations also asked the court to require the Shin Bet to visually document the questioning of suspects. The justices said that because the law was now under scrutiny, “the time has not yet come to examine the petitioners’ arguments themselves.”

The Palestinians do not need an Israeli investigation. For them, Jaradat’s death is much bigger than the tragedy he and his family have suffered. From their experience, Jaradat’s death isn’t proof that others haven’t died, it’s proof that the Israeli system routinely uses torture. From their experience, the goal of torture is not only to convict someone, but mainly to deter and subjugate an entire people.

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Tony Greenstein

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