New Report by PCATI - No Defense: Soldier Violence against Palestinian Detainees


A report by the Public Committee Against Torture in Israel (PCATI) published this morning reveals the widespread phenomenon of violence against bound Palestinian detainees by IDF soldiers and the almost absolute indifference of the IDF, the Ministry of Defense and the Knesset towards the existence of this phenomenon and the need to take action in order to eradicate it completely.

The report titled “No Defense: Soldier Violence against Palestinian Detainees” focuses on a large number of incidents of violence against detainees after they had been arrested, bound, and no longer present a danger to the soldiers. Abuse occurs at various junctions - immediately following arrest, in the vehicle transporting the detainees, and during the time they are held in IDF military camps prior to their transfer to interrogation and detention facilities. At times abusive practices involve dogs that are employed by the military forces during arrest operations and transported in vehicles along with Palestinian detainees. On certain occasions, the ill treatment of Palestinian detainees is highly violent resulting in serious injury. At other times, abuse manifests itself in a routine of beating, degradation and additional abuse. Minors, who must be granted special protection under both Israeli and International Law, are also victims of abuse. The soldiers who carry out arrests do not treat minors with special care and at times – as revealed by various testimonies – exploit their weakness.

The report reveals that although the phenomenon of violence against Palestinian detainees by soldiers is blatantly illegal, it is reinforced by a weak legal system which conducts only a small number of investigations and legal proceedings that concern cases of abuse by soldiers. Particularly prominent is the almost absolute indifference to the phenomenon of the authorities, including the military hierarchy, the Minister and Ministry of Defense, the Knesset and the State Comptroller. The report also discloses that the IDF has no directives which regulate the treatment of Palestinian detainees in the period of time between their arrest and their placement in detention and interrogation authorities.

The report is based on 90 detailed testimonies that reached PCATI relating to the arrest of Palestinians between June 2006 and October 2007. Parts of these testimonies are quoted in the report. Moreover, the large number of complaints point to a much wider phenomenon, when it is taken into consideration that many Palestinians who are injured during arrest do not complain, and that the complaints filed by many detainees do not reach PCATI. The report is based, in addition, on the testimonies of soldiers and statements of commanders and other relevant persons which shed additional light on the phenomenon and the failure of the army to act upon it.

The importance of the appropriate treatment of prisoners and detainees is in the limelight this week because the issue of the release of Israeli prisoners and missing Israeli soldiers is in the forefront of the public agenda, and in view of the marking, on Thursday, June 26, of the UN International Day in Support of Victims of Torture. We are witness to inhuman treatment of the soldiers who are cut off from their families, rendering their loved ones helpless. The ill treatment of Palestinian detainees, as described in the report, does not reach such an extreme degree, but it is severe enough to compel all of us to act in order to bring an end to the phenomenon.

The report was written by Noam Hoffstater on behalf of the Public Committee Against Torture in Israel (PCATI). The legal analysis was written by PCATI’s Legal Advisor, Attorney Eliahu Abram and by Dr. Yuval Ginbar, senior advisor to PCATI and the author of the book “Why Not Torture Terrorists?” that was published this year by the Oxford University Press.

No Defense Full Report .pdf1.02 MB