Israeli Doctors Told Not to Comply with Shin Bet’s Requests on Torture

The Israel Medical Association has called on doctors not to cooperate with requests by the Shin Bet security agency to determine whether Palestinian detainees are fit to be interrogated while being hooded, chained or forced to undergo other forms of physical pressure.

Dr. Miriam Zangen, head of the medical association, sent a letter Wednesday to Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin saying doctors would be “complying with torture” by filling out such questionnaires on the health of detainees.

The controversy began in May, when human rights lawyers got hold of a questionnaire used by security officials at an army detention center in the West Bank town of Tulkarm.

In the form, an Israel Defense Force doctor was asked to examine a Palestinian detainee, 26-year-old Ribhi Shuker, and state whether there were any limitations to his being placed in an isolation cell, wearing a hood, being chained, or forced to stand for prolonged periods.

In Shuker’s case, the doctor answered “no” to all questions, and Shuker was transferred to the Shin Bet interrogation wing.

There, Shuker was hooded, beaten, and had his hands and feet tied together behind his back, according to Shuker’s attorney, Tamar Peleg, an Israeli lawyer noted for her work on behalf of Palestinian detainees.

Disturbed by the doctor’s role in the incident, human rights activists asked the medical association for an opinion. Zangen’s letter to Rabin, who also serves as defense minister, was its response.

Dr. Ram Ishai, head of the association’s medical ethics committee, said Wednesday he would open an investigation of any doctor who signed the form.

He said doctors are barred from assessing whether a detainee could withstand interrogation. Doctors are also barred from treating a patient in order to enable him to resume interrogation.

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