Palestinian women detained by Israel allege abuse during Israeli detention

JERUSALEM (AP) — Nabila thought at the United Nations The school in Gaza City was a safe haven. Then the Israeli army arrived.

She added that the soldiers stormed the place, ordered the men to take off their clothes, and took the women to the mosque to search them. Thus began six weeks in Israeli custody, which she says included repeated beatings and interrogations.

“The soldiers were very cruel, they beat us and shouted at us in Hebrew,” said the 39-year-old from Gaza City, who spoke on the condition that her last name not be used for fear of being arrested again. “If we raised our heads or said a word, they would hit us on the head.”

Palestinians arrested by Israeli forces In Gaza during Israel-Hamas war They alleged widespread physical abuse and neglect. It is not known how many women or minors were arrested.

Nabila said that she moved between facilities inside Israel in a mixed group before arriving at Damon prison in the north, where she estimated there were at least 100 women.

Human rights groups say Israel is “hiding” Gaza's Palestinians, detaining them without charge or trial and not revealing to their families or lawyers where they are being held. The Israel Prison Service says that all “required basic rights are fully implemented by professionally trained prison guards.”

Israel then declared war Killing of militants led by Hamas About 1,200 people and took approximately 250 others hostage on 7 October.

Since then, ground forces have arrested hundreds of Palestinians to search for suspected activists and gather intelligence. Images of blindfolded men kneeling with their heads bowed and their hands tied sparked global outrage. In northern Gaza and the city of Khan Yunis in the south. The forces arrested dozens at one time From UN schools and hospitals, including medical personnel.

The army said it forces detainees to remove their clothes to search for explosives, and brings the detainees to Israel before releasing them back to Gaza if they are deemed innocent.

For Nabila, this process took 47 harrowing days.

Despite Israeli orders to evacuate, Nabila and her family were forced to do so He decided not to leave Gaza CityBelieving that there is no safe place in Gaza. The forces entered the school where they were taking shelter on December 24.

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She said: “I felt terrified when I imagined that they wanted to execute us and bury us there.”

The forces separated Nabila from her 13-year-old daughter and 4-year-old son, and placed her in a truck headed to a facility in southern Israel. According to the Israeli group Physicians for Human Rights, or PHRI, all detainees in Gaza are first brought to the Sde Teman military base.

“We were freezing and forced to stay on our knees on the ground,” Nabila told The Associated Press from a school-turned-shelter in Rafah where she lives with other recently released female detainees. “Loud music, screaming, intimidation – they wanted to humiliate us. “Our hands were tied, our eyes were blindfolded, and our feet were shackled.”

Nabila, who was transferred between several prisons, said that she was subjected to repeated searches and interrogations at gunpoint.

I asked her about her relationship agitation And knowledge of the militants An extensive underground tunnel networkShe insisted on her innocence, telling investigators that she was a housewife and that her husband worked for the Palestinian Authority, a rival to Hamas.

“A device for revenge and vengeance”

A detained woman from Gaza, who spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of being arrested again, told the AP that during a medical examination before her transfer to Damoun prison, Israeli forces ordered her to kiss the Israeli flag. When she refused, a soldier grabbed her by the hair and smashed her face against the wall, she said.

In a report issued by PHRI, former detainees from Gaza alleged similar mistreatment.

One of them, whose name was withheld, said guards urinated on him at Ketziot Prison in southern Israel, and witnessed topless searches in which guards forced naked detainees to stand close together and inserted search devices into their buttocks.

PHRI also described Israeli prisons To house Palestinians from the West Bank and East Jerusalem Those detained on security charges, as a “retribution and revenge apparatus.” She claimed that the prison service and the army were “given freedom to act as they saw fit”.

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The report stated that at the beginning of the war, prisons went into “lockdown” mode, with detainees locked in their cells for two weeks. Under wartime emergency measures, the Israeli parliament in October suspended the normal capacity requirements for cells. Since then, inmates have been sleeping on mattresses in overcrowded cells.

Phone privileges have been completely suspended, the report said. In some facilities, electricity and water were cut off from the security wings, plunging detainees into darkness for most of the day and making bathrooms and sinks unusable.

During the eight days she spent in a little-known facility in southern Israel, Nabila said she did not shower and was unable to obtain menstrual pads or toiletries. Food was scarce. Nabila said that guards once threw meals at detainees and told them to eat on the floor.

The army said that each detainee receives clothes, blankets and bedding. She denied that the cells were overcrowded, saying that detainees had adequate access to toilets, food, water and medical care.

“The violent and hostile treatment of detainees described in the allegations is prohibited,” the military said in response to an AP request for comment. “Instances of inappropriate behavior will be dealt with.”

It referred questions related to the Ketziot and Damon prisons to the Israeli Prison Service, which did not comment on these allegations, saying only that it was not involved in the arrest and interrogation of Palestinians from Gaza.

“Unlawful combatants”

Nabila said she had never spoken to a lawyer or judge.

Under a review of Israeli wartime law, all Gaza detainees could be detained for 45 days without charge or trial.

Classified as “unlawful combatants,” they are not afforded the same protection as prisoners of war under international law. Their appearance in court could be delayed and access to lawyers withdrawn, according to PHRI. The Israeli human rights organization HaMoked said that 600 people from Gaza are being held as illegal combatants in Israeli prisons, and more could be detained in military facilities.

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Palestinian detainees told PHRI that adequate medical care is rare, even for those who require insulin or chemotherapy.

An official document obtained by the Associated Press, outlining operations at the military medical facility in Sde Timan, states that illegal combatants are treated handcuffed and blindfolded.

She added that the names of the medical staff were kept anonymous “to preserve the safety, well-being and lives of caregivers.” It did not require patient consent for medical procedures, and confidential medical information could be passed on to detention center staff.

The army said that the handcuffing of the detainees “was carried out in accordance with their assessed level of danger and their medical condition.” The Israeli Ministry of Health did not respond to requests for comment.

Eleven Palestinian detainees have died in Israeli prisons since October 7, according to the advocacy group the Palestinian Prisoner's Club, the most recent just this week. At least five of them had underlying health conditions, which PHRI says raises concerns they died due to medical negligence.

The Israeli army said it would examine the deaths.

“Better than Gaza”

Nabila's fortunes improved when she reached Damon. There she met Palestinian women detained from West Bank.

She said the women were nice. It had electricity and a warm shower. The investigator wondered aloud why Nabila was being arrested.

A month and a half after her arrest, the prison director announced that Nabila would be released along with about 20 other women. Israeli buses transported them to the Gaza crossing, where they made their way to United Nations shelters in southern Gaza City. Rafah is full of displaced Palestinians. She cannot travel to Gaza City, where her family resides.

Nabila, her face bruised, recalls one of her last interrogations. She started crying, and the investigator said to her:

“Don't cry about it. You live better here than in Gaza.”

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