LONDON (Jun. 19)
Israel’s Ambassador to Britain, Avraham Kidron, denounced as “dastardly” a lengthy report published in the Sunday Times today alleging that Israeli interrogators routinely maltreat and frequently torture Arab prisoners on the West Bank, Gaza and in Israeli military camps and intelligence centers.
Kidron said that two months ago the Israeli government had offered to conduct a full inquiry into the allegations if the newspaper supplied it with details of the torture charges and the names of the prisoners who claimed such treatment. The Sunday Times refused “under the assumption that facts only confuse the issue,” Kidron said. The envoy, who presented his credentials to the British government only last week, responded to the Times report in an address to Anglo-Jewish leaders at a meeting of the Board of Deputies of British Jews today.
The Sunday Times accusations were contained in a heavily documented four-page report based on a five month investigation by the newspaper’s “insight team” into Israeli occupation practices on the West Bank and Gaza Strip. It charged that Israeli security officials subjected the prisoners to electric shock, prolonged beatings, sexual assault and confinement in tiny cupboards with concrete spikes set on the floor. The paper called for an international inquiry and urged Israel to cease the alleged practices. The report included categorical denials of previous torture allegation by Gabriel Padon, the Israeli Press Attache, who said on a recent BBC broadcast that Israel was a country ruled by law.
According to the report, titled “Israel and Torture,” torture occurs in at least six centers: At the prisons in Nablus, Ramallah, Hebron and Gaza; at the Russian Compound in Jerusalem; and at a special Military Intelligence Center believed to be at the Sarafand military base. The Times said another such camp may exist near Gaza.
ALL SECURITY FORCES IMPLICATED
All of Israel’s security services are alleged to be implicated. These are the Shin Bet; the military intelligence; the border police; and Latam, Israel’s department for special missions. The alleged torture, which is said to be systematically organized, is used for extracting information; for forcing confessions; and “to persuade Arabs in the occupied territories that it is least painful to behave passively”.
Although the allegations filled several pages, an accompanying editorial said that the first-hand testimonies in the Times’ hands are ten times this amount, “with varying degrees of plausibility.” It offered to make them available “to any properly constituted international inquiry”–but not the UN Commission on Human Rights, which it terms “a force”. Israel does not recognize that commission which is composed of nations that have no diplomatic relations with Israel.