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Torture & Inhumane Treatment

The treatment of Palestinian prisoners detained by Israeli forces and Palestinian forces has been subject to extensive assessment, with grave concerns being expressed by numerous actors, from non governmental organisation to United Nations treaty bodies.


Reports by the Public Committee Against Torture in Israel, since 1999 have asserted that

Many Palestinians who undergo interrogation by the GSS are exposed to torture and ill treatment;

The ill treatment of Palestinian detainees begins with the denial of their right to contact with the outside world, particularly with attorneys and family members, often for extended periods of time.

In 2009, the Public Committee Against Torture in Israel released a report documenting the details of how the Israeli Attorney General had systematically disregarded hundred complaints of torture between 2001 and 2009. In its follow up report of 2012 "Accountability Still Denied".

Does Israeli law prohibit torture?

In a landmark ruling by the High Court of Justice of 1999, the court banned most of the methods of torture brought before it, however it veered away from international law by setting out a military necesity doctrine that allows physical force to prevent immedient and tangible danger. Such an exception de-facto sets out instances when torture is permissible despite its strict prohibition under international law, which has no exception.

In 2009 the United Nations Committee Against Torture undertook it's review of Israel and asserted the following findings:

Application of the law

State parties’ obligation to prevent acts of torture or ill-treatment in any territory under its jurisdiction must be interpreted and applied to protect any person, citizen or non-citizen, without discrimination subject to the de jure or de facto control of a State party;


The Committee considers that, as stated by the International Court of Justice in its Advisory Opinion, international human rights treaties ratified by the state party, including the convention, are applicable in the occupied Palestinian territories.


Key Findings and Recommendations

The Committee reiterates its previous recommendation that the State party completely remove necessity as a possible justification for the crime of torture. The committee requests that the state party provide detailed information on the  number of “ticking bomb” Palestinian detainees interrogated since 2002;

The State party should ensure that interrogation methods contrary to the convention are not utilized under any circumstances. The state party should also  ensure that all allegations of torture and ill-treatment are promptly and effectively  investigated and perpetrators prosecuted and, if applicable, appropriate penalties  are imposed. The Committee reiterates that, according to the Convention, “no  exceptional circumstances,” including security or war or threat to security of the state, justify torture. 

Palestinian authorities

According to Human Rights Watch in a report released in 2009 Hamas security forces and unidentified assailants possibly linked to Hamas were also implicated in custodial killings and torture against perceived political opponents and others.

In 2008, Human Rights Organisation Al Haq released the report "Torturing Each Other: The Widespread Practices of Arbitrary Detention and Torture in the Palestinian Territory". This report found that:

  • Acts of torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment against individuals in the West Bank and Gaza Strip by various Palestinian security or military agencies and personnel are widespread;
  • The use of torture is driven primarily by political interests within the fractured political context of the oPt, and most often as a form of revenge against perceived political enemies.