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Torture in Israeli Prisons

By Rev Ted Pike
29 August 2007

Today, more than 8,000 Palestinians are locked in Israel’s prisons, most without due process. For the majority, their crime is resisting a nation that violently stole 90 percent of their parents’ and grandparents’ land and possessions and expelled them to wretched detention camps in Gaza, the West Bank, and Lebanon. (See, The Simple Explanation for Mid-East Strife). These sons and grandsons were imprisoned for crimes ranging from stone-throwing at Israeli tanks to violent terrorist activity. As prisoners, they have virtually no rights. Many are held without charge or trial. They can be legally tortured without restraint.
Since at least 1967, the government of Israel has vehemently denied that it uses torture, and Israel signed the 1987 Landau Agreement banning most forms of torture.1 But in 1995 a secret government report (not released until 2000) admitted Israel does torture.2 In 1999 Israel's Supreme Court ruled that torture can be employed as a "necessity" in exceptional cases when officers have reason to believe they can prevent a crime. This has created a loophole, exempting interrogators/torturers from punishment as long as they claim they tortured in the national interest. 3
Since every Palestinian prisoner may be viewed as possessing information valuable to preventing terrorist attacks, virtually all have been tortured. The Palestine Monitor ( reports that since 1987 the Israeli Security Agency has tortured at least 850 Palestinians a year during interrogations. Since the Supreme Court ruling in 1999, according to the Israeli human rights organization B'Tselm, 85 percent of Palestinian prisoners are still subjected to torture. The Monitor asserts that during the first Intifada (1987-1993), Israeli security “interrogated approximately 23,000 Palestinians.” The Public Committee Against Torture (PCAT) estimates that almost all suffered some torture during interrogation. 4
The Palestine Monitor says that methods of interrogation and torture frequently used by Israeli security service include:

* Tying up detainees in painful positions for hours or days.
* Containment in tiny cramped spaces (for days, prisoners have been stuffed in boxes about 2 feet square and 5 feet high, often with spiked floors).
* Prolonged beatings.

Enclosing the detainee's head in a sack (often soaked with urine and feces).
* Violent “shaking” (Physicians for Human Rights says this has caused brain damage, even death). 5
* Bending body in extremely painful positions.
* Prolonged exposure to extreme cold or heat.
* Sexual, verbal, and psychological abuse.
* Threats against the individual’s life or family members’ lives.
* Playing extremely loud music.
* Choking and pulling out hair (prisoners have been forced to swallow hair).
* Intentional tightening of handcuffs (According to Amnesty International, the handcuffs used by the Israeli Security forces are in themselves a form of torture, “…the plastic handcuffs tighten on the detainee's wrist, causing intense pain; former detainees describe their wrists becoming blue as a result of their tightening and adult men screaming with pain as they begged to be taken off.”
* Putting head of prisoner in toilet bowl. 6

Some prisoners are guilty of terrorist acts, including attempted suicide bombings. As victims of injustice, they have also committed injustice. Yet international law forbids torturing prisoners, military or civilian, even to obtain vital information. The Old Testament, ostensibly respected by Israel's government, also gives no sanction to torture, even of Israel's bitterest enemies. The implicit message of the Old Testament is that torture is barbaric, unthinkable among God's chosen people. 7

Israelis Criticize Torture

For five months in 1977, the London Sunday Times investigative team worked inside the West Bank, Gaza, and surrounding areas to investigate evidence of torture. The team recorded 110,000 words of testimony and found proof of torture “‘…through the ten years of Israeli occupation since 1967’.” 8
The Times presented the cases of 44 tortured Palestinians. Some of these cases are included in three chapters of the Encyclopedia of the Palestine Problem, p. 593-672.9 They confirm that the following forms of torture have existed in Israel’s prison system since 1967.

Prisoners were:

* hung by their wrists for long periods.
* beaten extensively, over periods of days and months.
* struck in the genitals, and testicles twisted, squeezed, and crushed; testicles compressed around an iron ball placed between them.
* sexually abused - sometimes through “anal assaults,” including homosexual rape and pushing of bottles up rectums.
* attacked by dogs.
* beaten on soles of feet.
* hosed with icy water, forced to sit in blazing sun for hours.
* penetrated in the penis with a ballpoint pen; metal rods up urethra, rupturing it.
* exposed, blindfolded, to the wrath of a raging public, pelted with rocks and bottles at Israeli football games.
* forced to drink urine and allow soldiers to urinate in their mouth.
* forced to grasp barbed wire and endure electric shock, having electrodes attached to various parts of the body and enduring shocks so powerful they lift the victim off the ground; forced to stand in electrically charged water.
* hung in crucified position for up to four days in the scorching sun.
* hung by feet and used as punching bags for boxers.
* forced to sit for up to a week with hands over head.
* forced to “run the gauntlet” of beatings by 8 to 10 soldiers.
* laid on the floor and jumped on by guards.
* dragged by rope around neck.
* beaten and tortured in front of family members, commanded to rape their daughters.
* crushed under bulldozers.
* blindfolded and hung from helicopter.

In addition, they had:

* their teeth torn out with pliers; false teeth were smashed.
* shards of glass pushed deeply into nostrils.
* a tube pushed up nose with salt water forced into stomach; batons were jammed in mouth, rupturing throat.
* ribs, bones, and teeth deliberately broken.

Red Cross Describes Torture

In Prisoners of Israel, Israeli civil libertarians Ralph Schoenman and Mya Shone confirm:

…the pattern of torture repeated by the Sunday Times is similar to that found in the hundreds of testimonies published by Israeli lawyers, Felicia Langer and Lea Tsemel, by Palestinian lawyer Walid Fahoum, as the accounts we have heard from former prisoners.

…this pattern is documented in the West Bank as early as 1968, one year after the occupation began. Although the International Red Cross does not make public declarations, it had prepared in 1968 a finding of torture. Its “Report on the Nablus Prison” concludes:

“A number of detainees have undergone torture during interrogation by the military police. According to the evidence, the torture took the following forms:

1. Suspension of the detainees by the hands and the simultaneous traction of his other members for hours at a time until he loses consciousness.
2. Burns with cigarette stubs.
3. Blows with rods on the genitals.
4. Tying up and blindfolding for days.
5. Bites by dogs.
6. Electric shocks at the temples, the mouth, the chest and testicles.” 10


A report by Amnesty International of August 9, 1982 estimated the number of detainees in the large prison camp of Ansar at 10,000. According to the Israeli League for Human and Civil Rights, the total number of prisoners amounted to approximately 15,000, including children and elderly persons…”
As a result, the Encyclopedia of the Palestine Problem tells us “there are many thousands of Palestinians and Lebanese who are disabled as a result of long years of imprisonment and torture.” (p. 599)

Women Don't Escape Torture

After 1967, the number of women incarcerated and tortured grew dramatically.

One such prisoner, Rasmiya Odeh, says: “The first time they stripped me and threw me on the floor, the room was full of men -- civilians and soldiers. They laughed at my nakedness and kicked me, beat me with sticks, punched me all over, especially on the breasts; my body was covered with bruises. Then they got a wooden stick, not a smooth one, and pushed it into me to break the hymen. They brought my father and fiancé to see me. I lost consciousness…

One time, an interrogator, Abu-Hani, sat me on a chair and sat himself opposite. He put his legs on the chair on either side of me and boxed me on the ears until I couldn’t hear anymore and brought in my father and told him to strip and make love to me. “She isn’t your daughter, she’s your wife, go on, sleep with her.” My father screamed and they beat him till he lost consciousness. Blood was pouring from my mouth and nose and I couldn’t hear anymore. They dragged him unconscious from the room. Another time, they stripped me and took me to a room where men were suspended from the ceiling. They handcuffed me to the hooks in the ceiling -- it was a pulley system which could be raised and lowered- and then chained my feet to the ground, wide apart, and raised me so only the tips of my toes touched the ground. They said they had been going to rape me, but I was too dirty for them and they would instead get some prisoners who hadn’t seen a woman for a long time." 11

The Encyclopedia of the Palestine Problem says, “The tortures recounted in this chapter [such as the above] have been duplicated en masse on thousands of Palestinian women detainees of all ages.” (p. 671)
Isn't it significant that a number of Israeli torture experts instructed US interrogators at the US military base of Abu Ghraib in Iraq several years ago? They taught American soldiers the same torture techniques used in Israeli prisons.12 It is also chilling that the Bush administration, allowing "coercion" torture of Muslim prisoners at Guantanamo, uses virtually the same evasive language as Israel. Bill Quigley, professor of law at Loyola University in New Orleans, says 44 detainees in Iraq and Afghanistan have died in U.S. captivity, having been hooded, strangled, gagged, or beaten with blunt objects.13
All civil liberties/humanitarian groups that monitor Israeli torture indicate that the Israeli government at every level, from the premier and Shin Bet (equivalent to our FBI) down to the military police, colludes with torture. As a result, Ha'aretz says, "It is no surprise that no Shin Bet interrogators have been found guilty of torturing a suspect…" 14

Why Should We Care?

In Nazi Germany, Hitler’s SS tortured people “inferior” to the "master race." Similarly, Israel’s torture of Palestinians is fueled by Talmudic teachings which assert that Gentiles are inferior to the “chosen race” … Jews. (See, The Talmud: Scalpel that Bleeds the Mideast)
Should torture in Israeli prisons concern us as Americans? What about the millions of evangelical Christians who staunchly support Israel?
The Bible says someday Christians will also be incarcerated in Israeli prisons. Describing the events of the last days before His second coming, Christ said, “They will lay their hands on you and will persecute you, delivering you to the synagogues and prisons…” (Luke 21:12) During this future worldwide Jewish persecution of Christians, the same penal hellholes that now muffle the screams of thousands of tortured Palestinians will also cage Christians.
Why would Israel imprison Christians?
For anti-Christian Jewish activists, there is no greater criminal in history than Jesus Christ. Such Jews believe that, by vilifying the Pharisees (modern Judaism's greatest guiding lights), Jesus began an evil trend of suspicion toward Judaism, a movement that New Testament writers and later church fathers magnified through "anti-Semitic" depiction of Jews as "Christ killers." Many Jews believe that anti-Semitism comes from Christianity; they believe the New Testament "blood charge" that Jews had Christ crucified spawned nearly 2000 years of living hell for the Jewish people, culminating in the Holocaust. (See, ADL's Foxman: New Testament is Anti-Semitic)
When Sarah Silverman in her film Jesus is Magic said, “I hope the Jews did kill Christ. I’d f---ing do it again in a second," she expressed a historic Jewish point of view: If Jesus had been smothered in His cradle, a world of Jewish suffering would have been avoided. Activist Jews of ADL/B’nai B’rith consider the accusation that the Jews had Christ murdered so evil they have included it as one of the 14 criteria of anti-Semitism published by their Office of Global Anti-Semitism in the US State Department. (See, Global Hate Crimes Gestapo Being Created) Such “anti-Semitism” is now a hate crime punishable by the B’nai B’rith hate laws in Canada with huge fines and even prison. 15
Already, Jewish activists in high places can deport and imprison those who offend them. At the insistence of B'nai B'rith International, Holocaust reductionists Ernst Zundel and Germar Rudolph were extradited from Canada and America and imprisoned in Germany for violating Germany's B'nai B'rith-inspired "anti-hate" laws.
Knesset can now demand from any nation extradition of those who publicly question the accuracy of the six-million figure of the Holocaust.16 If nations accept this request and deport citizens to Israel, such victims may be tried there for "crimes against the Jewish people" and sent to Israeli prisons where they may be tortured alongside Palestinians.
Knesset is also deliberating legislation that would make it a federal crime for visiting evangelicals, and even resident Jewish Christians, to witness publicly for Christ in Israel.17 Penalty: a year in an Israeli prison, again possibly facing the same tortures meted to Palestinians. In the book of Acts, Christians who publicly witnessed for Christ in the streets of Jerusalem faced imprisonment and possible flogging (torture). The same is becoming true today.
Ultimately, Christians may be “delivered” from the nations to Israel for the “crime” of supporting those who caused the Holocaust -- Jesus and the New Testament writers.

Time for Christians to Suffer

Today, few evangelical Christians have sympathy for Arab suffering. “Israel first” evangelicals view Palestinians as Satanically driven opponents to God’s chosen people, Israel. They consider Israel the apple of His eye, blessed and intimately guided from above, especially in military victories. One pastor frankly told me God is really interested only in the Jews. “He’s pretty much written off the whole Arab world.” Reflecting this mentality, most evangelicals pledge themselves to unconditionally support Israel.
Yet when Christ's words are fulfilled and the church suffers imprisonment and torture at the hands of Jewish leaders, a few believers will suffer with a clear conscience. They did not assist, but resisted, the rise of the anti-Christ system that now oppresses them. They had compassion on its first victims, the Palestinians, as would the gentle Jesus.
Most imprisoned evangelicals will not have this consolation. They will remember how they and their fathers blindly encouraged the ascent of the Great Harlot, Israel, and stopped their ears from hearing the cries of her victims.
The Palestinians have suffered without mercy or justice from most evangelicals for at least 60 years. Someday it will be the turn of evangelicals to scream from undreamed of tortures in Israeli prisons and also be unheard by a hostile and indifferent world.


1 In his 50-page report, the UN special investigator on torture, Nigel Rodley said Israel told him, "…that its law forbade all forms of torture or maltreatment and it was in full conformity with the 1987 Convention Against Torture which it has ratified." Yet, he goes on to relate how his investigations confirmed that practices amounting to torture, such as sleep deprivation, hooding, and violent shaking, were going on at the same time. Reuters, March 23, 1997, "UN Investigator Says Israel Tortures Palestinians."

2 "Israel Admits Torture,", Feb. 9, 2000.

3 Human Rights Watch,, "Memorandum: Israel's Second Periodic Report to the Committee Against Torture," May 1998.

4, Fact Sheet of Torture of Palestinians, Aug. 17, 2007. The Monitor says, "According to Amnesty International, since 2001, Israeli authorities '….have actually continued and intensified implementation of a policy of torture, cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment, and collective punishment against Palestinians…'"

5 "Israel and the Occupied Territories: Shaking as a Form of Torture. Death in Custody of Abdal Al-Samad Harizat. A Medicological Report by Physicians for Human Rights, October 1995,"

6, Fact Sheet of Torture of Palestinians, Aug. 17, 2007.

7 The altruism of the Old Testament toward one's vanquished enemies is revealed in II Kings 6:22: "Would you kill those you have taken captive? Set bread and water before them that they may eat and drink and return." As a result of Israel's kindness to a captured invading foe, "marauding bands of Arameans did not come again into the land of Israel."

8 Schoenman and Shone, Prisoners of Israel, Santa Barbara, CA, Veritas Press, 1984, p.13.

9 Encyclopedia of the Palestine Problem, Intercontinental Books, Nov. 1991. Edited by Christian Palestinian lawyer and diplomat Dr. Issa Nakhleh, this 2-volume work is available at most university libraries.

10 Prisoners of Israel, p. 594.

11 Encyclopedia of the Palestine Problem, p. 646.

12 Columnist Wayne Madsen writes, "According to a political appointee within the Bush administration and U.S. intelligence sources, the interrogators at Abu Ghraib included a number of Arabic-speaking Israelis… who also helped U.S. interrogators develop the 'R2I' (resistance to interrogation) techniques. Many of the torture methods were developed by the Israelis over many years of interrogating Arab prisoners in the occupied West Bank and in Israel itself.", "The Israeli Torture Template: Rape, Feces and Urine," August 17, 2007.

13 "Priests Expose Secret Cycle of U.S. Torture," Brenda Norrell,, Aug. 13, 2007.

14, "Torture in Israel Has Again Become Routine," Aug. 18, 2003. The Palestine Committee against Torture concludes, "….not a single GSS interrogator has been brought to trial since 1994," PCAP, Sept. 2004, cited by the Palestinian Monitor.

15 I asked a friend in Toronto what would happen if he publicly stated that the Jews had Christ killed. "Ted," he replied, "I'd be playing with fire. The police might come and arrest me."

16 On June 20, 2004 the Jerusalem Post reported that Israel's Knesset empowered the State of Israel to criminalize anyone in the world who publicly reduces the six-million figure. The government is now authorized to request extradition to Israel of such alleged "hate criminals" from any nation. Israel can also seize, prosecute, and imprison them should they set foot in Israel.

17 Since 1977, Israel's anti-missionary law has decreed 5 years in prison for any non-Jew who attempts to convert a Jew from his religion, making use of a material enticement (tract, cup of coffee, etc.). This law has not been strictly enforced out of fear of losing evangelical favor and tourist dollars. Israeli law also requires a 6-month prison term for anyone, Gentile or Jew, encouraging conversion of a Jewish minor. This spring, the Shas party (equal in votes to Likud) proposed that attempts to convert a Jew of any age in Israel should be punished by 1 year in prison. "Shas Seeks Harsher Penalties for Missionaries," Mar. 14, 2007,,7340,L-3376215,00.html.


Rev. Ted Pike is director of the National Prayer Network, a Christian/conservative watch dog organization.
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