On May 6, 2007, Israeli NGOs B’tselem and HaMoked released a lengthy report claiming that the Israel Security Agency continues to torture security detainees in violation of a 1999 High Court decision. (NGO Monitor has documented the activities and credibility problems in previous reports published by these politicized NGOs, whose many donors include European governments and the New Israel Fund.)
In response to the report, the Israeli Ministry of Justice (MOJ) issued a nine page letter (Hebrew, English) detailing the questionable methodology and lack of verifiable sources. The letter notes that the report is “fraught with mistakes, groundless claims and inaccuracies.” This public rebuttal reflects an important development in Israeli government policy with respect to such politicized NGO reports.
“The report was based upon a non-representative sample that seems to have been deliberately chosen which distorts the reality prevailing in the course of arrest and interrogation of security prisoners.”
The report “includes description of cases with no identifying details and without allowing the relevant authorities . . . to review those specific cases.” Such failure “effectively denies the authorities the opportunity to examine the claims raised in the report.”
“Every case of deviation from the rules of conduct . . . is examined and treated . . . additional information about the cases mentioned in the report would have allowed the IDF to check each such individual case.”
The report includes “bizarre claims” such as that the Israel Security Agency “design[s] the appearance” of food given to detainees “to create disgust and deterrence.”
“The report itself refers to a group which is named in the report as ‘ordinary’ detainees, concerning interogatees which were arrested between 13 -17 of July 2005 when on the day of July 12, 2005, there was a terrorist attack in the city of Netanya, that caused the death of five people and the injury of many others . . . as a result of the interrogations, the perpetrators of the attack . . . were exposed. In addition, more terrorist units were exposed and weapons that were to be put to use in future terrorist attacks were handed over.”
Contrary to claims in the report, “the opening of criminal investigation files against soldiers . . .is not subject to the Military Attorney General’s pre-affirmation. Military police investigation files are frequently opened immediately upon complaints’ submission.” Moreover, severe punishments are meted out to soldiers who engage in unjustified violence. For example, a soldier convicted of beating a detainee was given a seven month prison sentence.
To read the MOJ’s letter in full, click for English, Hebrew.
Dan Izenberg, “’Shin Bet interrogation methods illegal’,” Jerusalem Post, May 6, 2007
Nir Hasson, “Rights Groups: Shin Bet Torturing Jailed Palestinians,” Haaretz, May 6, 2007
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