Three Inquiries Look at Charges Israeli Security Abused Arabs

Three separate investigations are under way into allegations that members of the various Israeli security services employed brutal methods to suppress the Palestinian uprising, including torturing prisoners under interrogation.

The accusation was made by the human rights watchdog group B’tselem, in a report titled “The Interrogation of Palestinians During the Intifada,” which was published in March.

The allegations were initially rejected by the Israel Defense Force.

But Lt. Gen. Ehud Barak, the new IDF chief of staff, ordered an investigation last week of charges that soldiers physically abused Palestinian prisoners. He put reserve Gen. Rafael Vardi in charge.

The General Security Services, or Shin Bet, has begun its own inquiry into B’tselem’s charges that Palestinian detainees were tortured while being questioned at Shin Bet facilities.

The investigators are two senior Shin Bet officials and a senior lawyer from the Attorney General’s Office.

The Justice Ministry announced, meanwhile, that a ministerial committee would investigate whether Shin Bet abided by the rules for interrogation laid down after the so-called “Bus 400 affair.”

That occurred in April 1984, when two captured Palestinian bus hijackers were shot to death after the soldiers handed them over to Shin Bet operatives.

Another investigation was ordered by Jerusalem Magistrate Ezra Kamah, who inquired into the role of Jerusalem police during the Temple Mount riots last year.

Two senior police officers were summoned for further questioning about their participation in the police action of Oct. 8, 1990, when at least 17 Palestinian rock-throwers were shot to death in the Old City.

The judge reopened the probe on the basis of new information, which indicated that at least one of the officers might have opened fire although his own life was not endangered.

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