Rights group: Israel interrogating more ill Gazans


JERUSALEM (JTA) — An Israeli human rights group says Israeli security has increased its interrogations of Palestinians seeking to leave Gaza for medical care.

Physicians for Human Rights-Israel provided its data in a report released Monday to the United Nations Committee Against Torture in Geneva.

Israel is scheduled to appear before the committee for a regular periodic review on Tuesday and Wednesday, one of seven countries under review this year. At least eight groups, including B’Tselem, Hamoked Center for the Defense of the Individual, Physicians for Human Rights and Amnesty International provided reports on Israel’s violations.

The physicians group also charges in its report that the Shin Bet security service has interrogated minors; photographed patients against their will; detained patients for undisclosed periods of time for interrogation; implemented interrogations without prior notice; harassed, accused, cursed and intimidated patients during interrogations;  and returned to Gaza without a permit to exit for medical treatment patients who did not cooperate.

The report states that between January 2008 and March 2009, at least 438 patients were interrogated at the Erez Crossing as a precondition for receiving an exit permit for medical care. In January, 17 percent of all applicants were interrogated; in January 2008 the number was 1.45 percent.

“It is incredibly dangerous for any democratic nation when a secret agency known to use unorthodox methods is allowed to operate without proper supervision or criticism," said Hadas Ziv, the physicians group’s director. "The silence of the High Court of Justice, the legal adviser to the government and other official bodies implicates them as partners to the Shin Bet’s cynical use of patients.”