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May 23, 2016 5:18 am

Israeli NGOs Broadcast Claims That Israel Tortures Palestinian Detainees, Kills Civilians

avatar by Ronn Torossian, Hank Sheinkopf, and George Birnbaum

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The United Nations Human Rights Council, in the Palace of Nations (Geneva). Photo: Wiki Commons.

The United Nations Human Rights Council, in the Palace of Nations (Geneva). Photo: Wiki Commons.

Several Israeli and Palestinian organizations, including Adameer, Al-Haq, Adalah, Badil, Defense for Children International, Public Committee against Torture in Israel and Physicians for Human Rights have filed shadow reports to the UN Committee Against Torture, claiming that Israel violates the Convention Against Torture.

On May 1, 2016, the Public Committee against Torture in Israel (PCATI) announced that “Representatives of civil society are invited every four years to present a shadow report to the Committee, in response to the State Party’s official report…The aim of the report is to bring to the attention of the Committee Against Torture a full and transparent picture regarding the implementation of the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment in Israel, in order to protect all citizens and residents of the State of Israel from torture and CIDT — an unacceptable norm which should not exist in well-run countries.”

In this alternative report, PCATI accuses Israel of torture and accuses IDF soldiers of physically and verbally abusing detainees. In addition, the organization harshly criticizes the investigation mechanisms of the IDF, the Israel Police, and the Shabak security forces.

The following are a few examples:

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  • “In spite of the long-standing criticism of Israel’s use of the ‘necessity defence’ to justify torture in interrogations, this practice is still used extensively and it is employed to nullify any criminal investigations.”
  • “Israel has failed in its basic obligation and commitment not to use torture; it has also failed in its basic obligation and commitment to prosecute offenders, and to provide real and effective safeguards against torture or ill-treatment.”
  • “Torture and other ill-treatment by soldiers Violence perpetrated by soldiers against detainees, in both physical and verbal forms, is a far from infrequent phenomenon in the Occupied Territories today. The hundreds of complaints which have reached PCATI in recent years reflect a disturbing norm of intentionally painful shackling, beatings, kicking, assault with batons and rifle butts, and curses and insults directed against the detainees, their family members, and their religion.”

This is not the first time that PCATI has leveled these false, harsh allegations against Israel’s security mechanisms. The organization frequently issues accusations of war crimes, with an emphasis on torture,  and is active in spreading these accusations in the international arena.

For example, during the wave of Palestinian terror in late 2015, PCATI issued a joint statement with other organizations funded by the New Israel Fund (NIF) that said, “it seems that too often, instead of acting in a manner consistent with the nature of each incident, police officers and soldiers are quick to shoot to kill. The political and public support for such actions endorses the killing of Palestinians in the Territories and in Israel.”

In September 2015, PCATI published a report titled, “Prosecutorial Indifference – Systematic Failures in the Investigation of Soldier Violence against Detainees in the Palestinian Occupied Territory.”

This report reached the following conclusions:

…the complaint examination mechanisms in general … are intended to obscure systematic violations of the law. As examination mechanisms they present the façade of adherence to the law, but in practice they systematically obscure violations by the various security forces – each force and its own mechanism for covering up and erasing complaints… the false impression that complaints are investigated grants the individuals and institutions which violate the law a stamp of legal approval… The complaint is examined by an official mechanism in a sophisticated ‘laundering’ process and the suspects are proclaimed ‘guilt-free.’

During Operation Protective Edge, PCATI Executive Director Ishai Menuchin published an article in which he cautioned that: “In order to understand what is happening and what is likely to happen now in Gaza, one has to look back to Lebanon and Operation Cast Lead and recognize the IDF’s new combat method: striking at civilians as a strategic tool…Defense Minister Yaalon would do well to remember, that perhaps contrary to the legal advice he received, systematic strikes against civilian neighborhoods is a war crime even when [Israel is] doing it.”

Following Operation Protective Edge, PCATI submitted a report to the UN Human Rights Council. In that report the organization stated that the Shabak systematically tortured Palestinian detainees during their interrogations, and that “soldiers and other security forces also use violence, humiliation and sometimes also torture during the arrest and interrogation of Palestinians.”

PCATI’s financial supporters include the Secretariat, a Palestinian fund that receives budgeting from four European countries: Holland, Switzerland, Sweden and Denmark. The Secretariat supports Israeli and Palestinian organizations that use various means to negate the legitimacy of Israel’s existence. These include calls for boycotting and slandering Israel and the IDF. The Secretariat transferred $644,206 to PCATI in 2009-2013, and $356,000 in 2014-2016.

In addition, PCATI receives funding from the American Jewish extremist organization The New Israel Fund ($209,732 from 2005-2013).

The New Israel Fund supports organizations that accuse Israel of using torture and accuse IDF soldiers of deliberate abuse, and of much, much worse. In short, the New Israel Fund harms Israel.

We continue to ask donors to the New Israel Fund to stop funding these activities that damage the state of Israel. Please stop funding this dangerous group of liars.

Hank Sheinkopf, CEO of Sheinkopf Communications, is a leading political strategist who has worked on campaigns in four continents. His clients have included former President Bill Clinton. Ronn Torossian is CEO of a top 20 US PR agency, and author of For Immediate Release. George Birnbaum is a former chief of staff to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

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