Amnesty has reviewed images and footage which show Israeli forces ‘physically and psychologically torturing’ Palestinian prisoners in Gaza.
Amnesty International has called for an urgent probe into Israel’s “inhuman” treatment of Palestinians held in detention, as well as an investigation into mass disappearances.
In a news release published on Wednesday, Amnesty said that their Crisis Evidence Lab team had verified footage which showed the “inhuman and degrading treatment of detainees” by Israeli forces in Beit Lahia, a city in northern Gaza. The fate and whereabouts of many of these detainees remain unknown.
Amnesty said the footage they reviewed, including images uploaded to social media, showed detained Palestinian men stripped of their clothing kneeling on the ground, as Israeli soldiers stood over them.
In a statement on Wednesday, Heba Morayef, Amnesty’s MENA Regional Director, also said that the rights organisation was investigating the disappearance of Nidal al-Waheidi and Haitham Abdelwahed, two journalists from Gaza, whose whereabouts for the past two months remain unknown.
This follows a UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights news release published on December 16, which warned of a “disturbing” increase in the number of Palestinians in north Gaza reportedly facing mass detention, ill-treatment and enforced disappearance.
“Children as young as 12 and persons as old as 70 are among those detained. Most concerningly, there are numerous reports that many of those detained were subjected to serious ill-treatment, which in some instances may amount to torture,” the OHCHR news release said.
OHCHR further estimated that upwards of thousands of Palestinian men, women and children are experiencing this plight.
On Monday, Haaretz reported that “several” Palestinian prisoners had died in detention at Israel’s Sde Teiman base. The report also said that detainees remain blindfolded and handcuffed for most of the day, which restricts their movement and ability to eat.
These latest revelations have renewed Amnesty investigations into the Israeli forces. In a November 8 news release, they reported a spike in arbitrary detentions of Palestinians following October 7, including those with work permits to enter Israel.
Palestinians being arbitrarily held faced severe beatings, humiliation and psychological torture, such as being forced “to keep their heads down, to kneel on the floor during inmate count, and to sing Israeli songs,” the November news release said.
According to Morayef, Israel’s actions amount to collective punishment of Palestinians and violate their rights. “The prohibition against torture can never be suspended or derogated from, including – and especially – at times like these,” she said to Amnesty in November.
Morayef’s sentiment is echoed by Article 9.1 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which stipulates that “No one shall be subjected to arbitrary arrest or detention, or deprived of his or her liberty, except on such grounds and in accordance with such procedures as are established by law”.
November’s Amnesty report also said that many out of the thousands of Palestinians who were held incommunicado for as long as three weeks in detention centres in the Occupied West Bank and Israel were freed.
Despite this, it remained unclear how many people were still being detained due to a lack of transparency from Israeli authorities.
Human Rights Watch has estimated that as of November 1, Israel is holding upwards of 7,000 Palestinians in detention.
“The majority have never been convicted of a crime, including more than 2,000 of them being held in administrative detention, in which the Israeli military detains a person without charge or trial,” HRW said.