PUBLIC AI Index: MDE 15/104/98
EXTRA 104/98 Torture and ill-treatment 31 December 1998
ISRAEL/OCCUPIED TERRITORIESHabib Hanna Khair, aged 35, Palestinian
Habib Hanna Khair is reportedly being tortured and ill-treated in Jelemeh Prison
in Israel where he has been under interrogation since 1 December 1998.
Habib Khair, from Beit Sahour in the West Bank, was arrested on 6 October at
the District Coordination Office (DCO) in nearby Kfar Azion where he had gone
to apply for a work permit for Israel. No charges have been brought against
Habib Khair was detained for a week in Kfar Azion in the West Bank and then
sent to Megiddo Prison under a two-month administrative detention order. Then
on 1 December he was transferred to Israel’s General Security Service (GSS,
also known as shin beth) and placed in Jelemeh Prison.
The conditions of his interrogation allow for almost no sleep between Sunday
and Thursday during which time he is made to sit shackled to a very small sloping
chair, in painful positions and is constantly hooded.
According to Habib Khair’s wife, who has only been able to see him during a
court appearance on 22 December, and his lawyer, he is suffering pain in his
back, stomach and leg. Although a doctor has visited him, at the request of
his lawyer, he has only been given painkillers. A new hearing has been set
for 5 January 1999.
Israel has for years systematically tortured or ill-treated Palestinian
detainees under interrogation. In 1987 torture was effectively legalised in
secret guidelines in the 1987 report of the Government-appointed Landau
Commission on the GSS. These allowed for the use of “moderate physical
pressure”. Since October 1994, however, a special ministerial committee has
allowed “increased physical pressure”. The UN Committee against Torture has
stated that Israeli methods of interrogation constitute torture as defined
in Article 1 of the UN Convention against Torture or Other Cruel, Inhuman or
Degrading Treatment or Punishment.
Members of Israel’s GSS have frequently admitted in court to using shabeh (sleep
deprivation in painful positions) - the playing of continuous raucous music
whilst detainees are hooded, prolonged squatting (gambaz) and violent shaking
(tiltul). The Israeli Government uses the excuse of the “ticking bomb” - that
is, that such treatment is “necessary” if it may prevent deaths and injuries
caused by hostile attacks. The Convention against Torture, ratified by Israel
in 1994, states that torture is never justified.
The case of Habib Khair is a good illustration of the systematic use of torture
of Palestinians under interrogation in Israel even in cases where there is
no question of a “ticking bomb”: Habib Khair was in detention seven weeks before
being interrogated; the interrogators cease the torture and ill-treatment
during the “weekend”; and he is apparently aligned to the Abu Musa group, a
small faction which rejects the Oslo peace process but is not known to have
placed any bombs over the past 5 years.
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