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Report: Israeli Prisons Subject Palestinians to Constant Torture, “Revenge”

“[The beatings] were not done to gather intelligence. They were done out of revenge.”

Israeli soldiers gather at the Erez Border Crossing between northern Gaza and Israel on February 29, 2024.

Palestinians imprisoned en masse without charges by Israeli forces are subject to constant torture, amputations due to prolonged confinement, and “revenge” beatings in an Israeli prison camp established after October 7, a harrowing new report by CNN reveals.

Three Israeli whistleblowers spoke of the horrific conditions imposed by Israeli soldiers at the Sde Teiman camp, which is located in the desert, 18 miles from Gaza. There, among other detention facilities, Palestinians are constantly blindfolded and handcuffed with zip ties. In one facility, they are forced to sit on the ground in painful positions; in a field hospital, they are forced to strip down and are strapped to beds, wearing only diapers.

The whistleblowers described horrific, inhumane conditions in the prisons. Sometimes, Palestinians are forced to have limbs amputated due to injuries sustained from being handcuffed for long periods of time. These and other medical procedures are often done without anesthesia and by people without training, the report found. The camp — which is said to smell of wounds left to rot by unqualified medics — has a reputation for being “a paradise for interns.”

The soldiers incessantly dehumanize the prisoners, sources said, often holding them for weeks or more, even if they are eventually cleared to leave after Israeli guards find them to have no connections to Hamas in interrogations. While imprisoned, Palestinians face severe beatings for infractions such as speaking or moving,

The beatings “were not done to gather intelligence. They were done out of revenge,” one whistleblower told the outlet. “It was punishment for what they (the Palestinians) did on October 7 and punishment for behavior in the camp.”

The warehouse-style room where Israeli forces detain Palestinians looks like an animal pen, CNN said. A leaked photo obtained by the outlet shows prisoners sitting on an extremely thin mat on the ground with their heads down, the facility surrounded by barbed wire.

At night, troops at the prison unleash “large dogs” on the prisoners while they are sleeping and barge into enclosures while releasing sound grenades, a whistleblower told CNN.

This account was corroborated by Mohammed al-Ran, a Palestinian who formerly headed the surgical unit at Gaza’s Indonesian Hospital in the north. In December, Al-Ran was arrested, blindfolded and handcuffed, and sent to a detention camp in the desert, where prisoners were forced to endure desert heat in the day and cold in the night. After being cleared of links to Hamas, al-Ran was picked to be a prisoner representative to act as a liaison between prisoners and guards.

For this, al-Ran was allowed to take off his blindfold — but this was another form of anguish, he said.

“Part of my torture was being able to see how people were being tortured,” al-Ran said. “At first you couldn’t see. You couldn’t see the torture, the vengeance, the oppression. When they removed my blindfold, I could see the extent of the humiliation and abasement … I could see the extent to which they saw us not as human beings but as animals.”

Al-Ran was released after weeks of being the prison liaison, but was mute for a month due to the emotional trauma of the detention. When he was about to be released, he said, another prisoner asked him to find his wife and children when he returned to Gaza. “He asked me to tell them that it is better for them to be martyrs,” al-Ran said. “It is better for them to die than to be captured and held here.”

Al-Ran’s and the whistleblowers’ accounts of the prisons line up with other reports on the conditions that Israeli troops are imposing on Palestinian prisoners who they have arrested arbitrarily. Israeli forces have detained and imprisoned thousands of Palestinians since October.

Other reports have found that Israeli troops routinely beat and humiliate prisoners; some Palestinians who have been released say that Israeli officers urinated on them, refused them medication they needed, and killed prisoners. One human rights expert said that what rights groups have seen from Israeli prisons has led them to believe that torture is a policy of these facilities.