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Hundreds of Palestinians have been detained from Gaza since the beginning of Israel’s ground invasion. (Photo: via Social Media)

By Palestine Chronicle Staff  

Geneva-based Euro-Med Human Rights Monitor on Tuesday issued a report detailing testimonies from a group of freed detainees from Gaza.

As new testimonies from recently-released Palestinian detainees from the Gaza Strip, including women and children, reveal details of torture by Israeli authorities, the resistance movement Hamas has called on international rights groups to investigate these crimes.

Geneva-based Euro-Med Human Rights Monitor on Tuesday issued a report detailing testimonies from a group of freed detainees who spent varying lengths of time in Israeli jails and detention centers. 

“These individuals confirmed that they were subjected to severe beatings, dog attacks, strip searches, and denial of food and bathroom access, among other cruel practices that amount to torture,” the report said. 

The most concerning testimonies that Euro-Med Monitor received concern female detainees who were directly sexually harassed.

The female detainees, who preferred to remain unidentified due to safety concerns, said that “Israeli soldiers had harassed them by touching their genitals as well as making them remove their headscarves.”

The rights group confirmed that the soldiers forced the female detainees and their families into providing information about others by threatening to indecently assault and even rape them. 

A 70-year-old man who requested anonymity spoke with Euro Med Monitor’s team as well. Identified only as MN, the man said Israeli soldiers took him from his house in the neighborhood of Al-Amal in Khan Yunis.

“I told them that I was sick and could not move, but they did not care. They forced me to take off my clothes. They took me to a demolished house; I had the impression that I was used as a human shield.”

MN explained that the Israeli soldiers made more arrests later on and “led us to a detention facility that was nothing more than an iron cage for severe torture”. He spent 10 days confined to the prison. 

“We were subjected to daily insults and beatings,” MN added. “We went four days without drinking (anything). They poured water on the ground in front of us as a form of torture. We were made to sit on our knees, given little food, and only allowed to use the restroom once.”

‘They Hung Me by My Legs’

Another man, known only as KHN, said “They asked us to evacuate, so I left with my family west of Khan Yunis.”

He said Israeli soldiers arrested him at the checkpoint “and forced me to take off my clothes. I was severely beaten. Blankets soaked with water were draped over us. We did not drink any water and were abnormally cold.”

KHN stated that the Israeli army “later transferred us to another place, where we were subjected to another form of torture. Every new place had a unique method of torture”. The severe cold prevented him from falling asleep, he told Euro-Med Monitor.

A third man, identified as MW, told the rights organization that he was arrested from Beit Lahia, “and forced me to completely undress.”

“They detained me in an open area and severely beat me; I felt their hands scour my body. After severely beating me with rugs and rifle butts, they hung me by my legs. I was exposed to severe beatings for 4 to 6 hours (per day).”

He added: “They threatened to rape my family, and asked for information that I did not know. They forced us to insult certain factions and personalities, to support Israel, and to say that the dog that was attacking us was ‘the crown on our head’.”

Female Detainee Forced to Undress

A woman, identified as G, said she was arrested at the checkpoint on Salah al-Din Street.

“They asked me to head to a sand berm, where they blindfolded me, searched me with their hands, and asked me about Hamas and the tunnels.”

The woman continued: “Then they moved me to an open area, then [transferred] me to a detention center, where I was forced to take off my clothes.”

“They provided me with nothing but (house clothes) and no underwear.” She was questioned multiple times while in custody, she told the rights organization.

“Every time I was stripped nude, with the female soldiers putting their hands on me, while male soldiers occasionally made rude comments, harsh insults that I cannot (repeat), and rape threats.”

Hamas’ Plea to Rights Groups

In response to recent revelations from freed detainees, Hamas has said: “We call on human rights and international institutions to follow up on the horrifying testimonies given by Palestinian detainees from Gaza who were recently released of the physical and psychological torture and violations they sufferedin the prisons of the occupation, which deliberately conceals their places of detention, their numbers and the conditions of their detention.”

These testimonies, the movement added, “are new evidence that they (Israeli forces) committed war crimes and crimes against humanity, which requires legal prosecution before international courts.”

Euro-Med Monitor has called on Israel “to promptly reveal the names, whereabouts, and fate of all forcibly disappeared detainees, and to immediately stop its policy of torture and ill-treatment of Palestinian detainees”. 

It stressed that “Israel’s ruthless assaults on Palestinian detainees, which violate their dignity and purposefully cause them great pain and suffering, are tantamount to crimes against humanity and/or torture, which fall under the purview of war crimes and crimes against humanity as defined by the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court.”

According to the Rome Statute, enforced disappearance is considered a crime against humanity, Euro-Med said.

The group also called on the International Committee of the Red Cross “to bear its responsibilities and verify the detention conditions of Palestinian detainees in Israeli prisons.”

(The Palestine Chronicle)

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