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‘Israeli intelligence torturing Palestinian prisoners’


OCCUPIED WESR BANK: Two of the four re-arrested Palestinian political prisoners have told their lawyers they are being subjected to physical and mental abuse and torture by Israeli interrogators, in the first meeting they had with them since being taken into custody last week.

Lawyers Khaled and Ruslan Mahajneh from the Palestinian Authority’s (PA) Commission of Detainees Affairs defence team met separately with Mohammed and Mahmoud al-Ardah on Wednesday, after Israeli intelligence services lifted the ban on the prisoners’ access to their lawyers five days after their re-arrest.

Khaled Mahajneh gave an emotional interview to Palestine TV as he left Jalama Detention Center after seeing his client Mohammed al-Ardah, who he said is being deprived of food, sleep and medical care while enduring intensive rounds of interrogation.

“Mohammed has undergone, and is still undergoing, a very difficult journey of torture,” said Khaled. “Upon his rearrest, Mohammed was taken to the Nazareth interrogation centre, where he was interrogated in a very ugly way.

“There were about 20 intelligence interrogators in a very small room who stripped him of all his clothes, including his undergarments, and forced him to remain naked for several hours. They gave him a shawl later to cover his genitals, and then transferred him to Jalama interrogation centre.”

‘Cuts and scratches’

The lawyer said Israeli forces beat Mohammed during his arrest. “His head was beaten to the ground and he is now injured above his right eye. He has not received the medical treatment he needs until this moment. He suffers from cuts and scratches all over his body, due to the escape attempt and the Israeli forces’ manhunt for him and Zakaria Zubaidi.”

Israeli authorities announced the re-arrest of Mahmoud Abdullah al-Ardah, 46, and Yaqoub Mahmoud Qadri, 49, on the southern outskirts of Nazareth late on Friday. Zakaria Zubeidi, 46 and Mohammed al-Ardah, 39, were arrested nearby early on Saturday, in the Palestinian village of Shibli-Umm al-Ghanam. The four are being held and interrogated in Jalama.

They were among six men, along with Ayham Nayef Kamanji, 35, and Munadel Infaat, 26, whose whereabouts remain unknown, who broke out of Israel’s Gilboa prison at dawn on September 6.

‘Round-the-clock interrogations’

Khaled Mahajneh said six Israeli interrogators stood behind Mohammed al-Ardah, whose arms and legs were shackled, during their meeting. The lawyer said he repeatedly asked for the shackles to be removed from Mohammed’s arms at least, but the officers refused.

According to Khaled, Mohammed was not given food until four days after being rearrested, and has not slept for more than 10 hours because of consecutive rounds of interrogation.

“He has been undergoing round-the-clock interrogation since Saturday… He is being interrogated in the late night and early morning hours,” said Khaled. “He does not see the sun, or light, or the wind. When I met with him, he asked me whether it was afternoon, he didn’t know it was midnight.”

The lawyer said Mohammed is being held in a cell “that does not exceed 2 by 1square metres”, lives “under 24-hour surveillance”, and is being “interrogated by 10 officers every day”.

In a separate interview, lawyer Ruslan Mahajneh, who met with Mahmoud al-Ardah the same night, said the detainee told him he was undergoing round-the-clock interrogation.

And, according to a statement by the PA Commission, lawyer Avigdor Feldman met with Zakaria Zubaidi at noon on Wednesday.

“It was found that the prisoner Zubaidi was beaten and abused during his arrest with the prisoner Mohammed al-Ardah, causing him a broken jaw and two broken ribs,” the Commission said.

Zubaidi, the statement continued, “was transferred to an Israeli hospital and was given painkillers after the arrest” and he “suffers from bruises and scratches all over his body as a result of the beatings and abuse”.

While the Israeli Supreme Court outlawed the use of tortures in 1999, interrogators, particularly the intelligence services – have continued to use violence against Palestinian detainees, which courts have retroactively sanctioned. The four prisoners are undergoing interrogation by the Israeli intelligence services in cooperation with Lahav 443 unit of the police, which lawyers say could last for up to 45 days.

The prisoners appeared separately on Saturday before the Israeli Magistrate Court in Nazareth, which decided to extend their detention until September 19 to “complete the investigation”. (Int’l News Desk)

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