UN Report Finds Palestinians Face Severe Abuses in Israeli Detention

by | Apr 17, 2024

UN Report Finds Palestinians Face Severe Abuses in Israeli Detention

by | Apr 17, 2024

oferprison

The UN aid agency for Palestinians (UNRWA) released a report showing that Gazans rounded up by the Israeli military have been subjected to severe abuses. UNRWA found some of its employees were subject to coercion and forced to make false statements about the organization’s alleged ties to Hamas. Tel Aviv used those confessions to persuade Washington and over a dozen other nations to cut funding for UNRWA. 

Published on Tuesday, the new report details how Israeli soldiers in Gaza have rounded up thousands of people throughout the months-long conflict. Those Palestinians have been moved into various detention centers across Israel and face inhumane conditions and brutal treatment by the military. 

“Ill-treatment…included being subjected to beatings while made to lie on a thin mattress on top of rubble for hours without food, water or access to a toilet, with their legs and hands bound with plastic ties,” UNRWA said. 

“Several detainees reported being forced into cages and attacked by dogs. Some released detainees, including a child, had dog bite wounds on their body,” the report continued. “Detainees were threatened with prolonged detention, injury, or the killing of family members if they did not provide the requested information.”

Some of those who endured torture were UNRWA employees who were forced to make false confessions about the agency’s supposed ties to Palestinian militant groups. “[UNRWA staff] reported being subjected to threats and coercion while in detention and being pressured during interrogations to make forced confessions against the agency,” the report explained, “including that the agency has affiliations with Hamas and that UNRWA staff took part in the 7 October attacks against Israel.”

The report went on to detail horrific abuses inflicted upon Palestinians by their Israeli captors. 

The ill-treatment and abuse against UNRWA staff members as relayed by staff members themselves included severe physical beatings and treatment akin to waterboarding, resulting in extreme physical suffering; beatings by doctors when referred for medical assistance; exposure to and being attacked by dogs; threats of rape and electrocution; threats of violence with guns pointed at them; verbal and psychological abuse; threats of murder, injury or harm to family members; humiliating and degrading treatment; being forced to strip naked and being photographed while they are undressed; and being forced to hold stress positions.

In January, as the International Court of Justice was preparing to rule on whether Israel was committing genocide in Gaza, Tel Aviv compiled what it dubbed an “intelligence dossier” that accused UNRWA staffers of working alongside Hamas and even taking part in the October 7 attack on Israel. 

Secretary of State Antony Blinken later said the Israeli claims were “highly credible,” and Washington led several other nations in cutting funds to UNRWA based on the allegations. Various human rights officials and organizations have explained that UNRWA was crucial in preventing famine in Gaza and warned cutting funding would accelerate the rate of starvation in the Strip.

Over the past three months, Tel Aviv has failed to produce evidence to back its claims, and several countries have resumed funding for UNRWA. 

Israeli forces also robbed detained Palestinians, according to the new report. “Detainees described having all items in their possessions’ confiscated – including identification documents and money – at the time of their detention and generally not returned after their release,” it said. 

UNRWA is not the first agency to report that Palestinians detained in Gaza are subject to torture. Israeli outlets +972 Magazine and Haaretz have also highlighted torture and abuse of Palestinians as attested by Israelis. “Detainees and prisoners at Megiddo Prison in northern Israel have reported several cases of harsh violence and abuse carried out by prison wardens,” Haaretz reported. The torture included “guards kicking, punching, hitting their testicles, and humiliating prisoners. Some testified that a prisoner who was beaten died of his injuries.”

“Israeli soldiers subjected Palestinian detainees to electric shocks, burned their skin with lighters, spat in their mouths, and deprived them of sleep, food, and access to bathrooms until they defecated on themselves,” another report by +972 Magazine found. “Some testified to having been beaten all over their bodies and having cigarettes extinguished on their necks or backs. Several people are known to have died as a result of being held in these conditions.”

The latest UNRWA report also includes claims that detainees, including women, faced sexual abuse while in custody. “Women described being exposed to psychological abuse, including insults and threats, as well as inappropriate touching during searches and as a form of intimidation and harassment while blindfolded.” It added that “Both men and women reported being made to strip naked in front of male soldiers during searches and being photographed and filmed while naked.”

About Kyle Anzalone

Kyle Anzalone is news editor of the Libertarian Institute, opinion editor of Antiwar.com and co-host of Conflicts of Interest with Will Porter and Connor Freeman.

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