Follow up: Naqab prison visit exposes brutality of Israeli special unit forces

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09 February 2017

Over the past week, Israeli Prison Service (IPS) special unit forces, called the Metzada, have carried out violent raids in the Nafha and Naqab prisons, both located beyond the Green Line. On 1 February 2017, the Metzada raided section 16 of the Naqab prison, attacking the prisoners and destroying their belongings. The prisoners were also subjected to physical beatings and some were transferred to other sections within the prison after one prisoner allegedly attempted an attack. Violent attacks and searches continued on 2 February in section 13 of the Naqab prison after the IPS closed off all sections of the prison.

Addameer’s attorney, Farah Bayadsi, visited Naqab Prison on 8 February 2017 to gather a detailed outlook of the attack. The prisoners expressed their shock of the brutality of the Metzada raids that took place on Wednesday, 1 February 2017. One of the affected prisoners stated, “At approximately 19:45 pm on Wednesday, I was in section 16 of Negev Prison when I heard loud screams coming from all the sections, and a few minutes later, a huge force of IPS special unit forces (Metzada) raided our section, entered every room. Each room was raided by 8 special unit forces, along with guards and a police dog.” During the raid, prisoners were shackled with their hands behind their backs in a painful way, forced to sit on their knees, and were brutally beaten all over their body parts, with focused beatings on chests and faces. Additionally, prisoners were verbally assaulted, humiliated and were exposed to other violations including, throwing tear gas canister inside their rooms, which caused suffocation, blurry vision, and nausea to all prisoners.

Furthermore, the prisoners were taken to an outside yard by the prison guards and violently forced to face the ground. The Metzada forces and the prison guards continued to insult, humiliate and beat the prisoners’ bodies with different tools and stepping on their heads.

The prisoners were kept outside in the very cold weather until 3 am, where some of them were not properly dressed. Later, prisoners were taken to the bathrooms section, where they were searched and their heads were smashed against the toilets. A prisoner described this by saying “the attack was cruel, brutal and can under no circumstances be justified.”

In addition to the aforementioned extreme violations, the IPS imposed a number of punitive and restrictive measures against the prisoners including, isolation, confiscation of property and electric devices, limited access to toilets, denial of family visits and access to the prison canteen for a month, as well as prohibiting them from washing their clothes that were saturated with tear gas.  

One of the prisoners reported to Addameer’s attorney that most of the prisoners suffered severe injuries as a result of the brutal and violent attack against them. The injuries varied from suffocation, blurry visions, swollen bruised eyes, broken teeth and Shabeh (the victim is forced to sit/stand in stressful and very painful positions). It is worth mentioning that none of the prisoners have received proper medical treatment despite their continuous requests to the IPS.    

Palestinian prisoners and detainees in Israeli prisons suffer from a multitude of violations of their rights under international humanitarian law and international human rights law. They are routinely subjected to physical and psychological torture and other cruel, degrading and inhuman forms of treatment and punishment. The widespread ill-treatment that has been documented in Israeli prisons amounts to violations of the Fourth Geneva Convention Relative to the Protection of Civilians in Times of War, and the 1948 International Convention Against Torture, which was ratified by Israel in 1991. The 1955 United Nations Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners, the Body of Principles for the Protection of All Persons under Any Form of Detention or Imprisonment adopted in 1988.

Addameer strongly condemns the international silence on the continued violations of the rights of Palestinian prisoners and detainees, particularly the right to freedom from degrading, inhumane treatment, and from torture and ill-treatment. In closing, Addameer calls upon the United Nations and the International Criminal Court of to take serious steps by imposing sanctions on the Israeli occupation and to pressure it to respect its obligations as an occupying power towards Palestinians as stipulated under international conventions.