Israel to phase out use of military detention camp after torture allegations

Israel's oldest humanitarian group, HaMoked, has called the conditions in the Sde Teiman facility 'horrendous'

Blindfolded Palestinians captured in the Gaza Strip in a detention facility on the Sde Teiman military base in southern Israel. AP
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Israel's High Court of Justice has ordered the closure of the Sde Teiman military detention camp for detainees from the Gaza Strip, after outcry by international humanitarian agencies about mistreatment and torture taking place at the facility.

Israel's oldest humanitarian group, HaMoked, has called the conditions there “horrendous”.

An investigation by Israeli daily Haaretz revealed that detainees at the facility were being killed after being severely beaten, according to an Israeli Military Police investigation.

They were among 35 Gazan detainees who died in Israeli detention facilities, Haaretz reported.

Palestinians have been notoriously mistreated in Israeli prisons.

Addameer Prisoner Support and Human Rights Association said that prisoners are often completely isolated and deprived of legal representation. It said prisoners in the Sde Teiman temporary facility were kept blindfolded and handcuffed most of the time.

The detained there have also included children, Addameer said.

The UN said it received allegations of beatings, people being kept in cells blindfolded and handcuffed for “excessive periods”, sleep deprivation and threats of physical and sexual violence in Israeli detention.

“Other reports suggest prisoners have been insulted and exposed to acts of humiliation, such as being photographed and filmed in degrading poses, while prolonged use of zip-tie handcuffs has reportedly caused friction injuries and wounds,” the UN said in May.

Wednesday's hearing came after a petition was filed by the Association for Civil Rights in Israel after gathering evidence of an “unimaginable reality of surgeries performed on detainees without anaesthesia, shackles that led to amputations, beatings and abuse”.

Seven hundred inmates have been moved to the occupied West Bank's Ofer incarceration facility and 500 will be transferred to a permanent holding place, the court heard on Wednesday. The fate of the remaining 200 is yet to be decided.

Last month, the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture, Alice Jill Edwards, called on the Israeli government to investigate “multiple allegations of torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment” against Palestinians detained since October 7.

Thousands of people “including children” have been held, the UN said.

Updated: June 06, 2024, 11:59 AM