by Yuval Abraham at +972 Magazine
In early December, images circulated worldwide showing dozens of Palestinian men in the city of Beit Lahiya, in the northern Gaza Strip, who were stripped to their underwear, kneeling or sitting hunched over, then blindfolded and put into the back of Israeli military trucks like cattle. The vast majority of these detainees were civilians with no affiliation to Hamas, Israeli security officials later confirmed, and the men were taken away by the army without notifying their families of the detainees’ whereabouts. Some of them never returned.
+972 Magazine and Local Call spoke with four Palestinian civilians who appeared in these photos, or were arrested near the scene and taken to Israeli military detention centers, where they were held for several days or even weeks before being released back to Gaza. Their testimonies — along with 49 video testimonies published by various Arabic media outlets of Palestinians arrested in similar circumstances in recent weeks in the northern districts of Zeitoun, Jabalia, and Shuja’iya — indicate systematic abuse and torture by Israeli soldiers against all of the detainees, civilians and combatants alike.
According to these testimonies, Israeli soldiers subjected Palestinian detainees to electric shocks, burned their skin with lighters, spat in their mouths, and deprived them of sleep, food, and access to bathrooms until they defecated on themselves. Many were tied to a fence for hours, handcuffed, and blindfolded for most of the day. Some testified to having been beaten all over their bodies and having cigarettes extinguished on their necks or backs. Several people are known to have died as a result of being held in these conditions.
The Palestinians we spoke with said that on the morning of Dec. 7, when the Beit Lahiya photos were taken, Israeli soldiers entered the neighborhood and ordered all civilians to leave their homes. “They were shouting: ‘All civilians must come down and surrender,’” Ayman Lubad, a legal researcher at the Palestinian Center for Human Rights, who was detained that day along with his younger brother, told +972 and Local Call.
According to testimonies,…Continue Reading