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Human Rights Group Calls on ICC to Prosecute Israeli Officers

Human Rights Group Calls on ICC to Prosecute Israeli Officers

Saturday, 11 June, 2022 - 07:45
Israeli forces dragging a child to prison (AFP)

The Public Committee Against Torture in Israel (PCATI) presented a communication to the Office of the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) denouncing alleged crimes committed by the Israeli Security Agency against Palestinian detainees.

The organization said it took this step to assist the Court in its investigations into claims that Israel committed war crimes in the Palestinian territories occupied in 1967.

PCATI Director Tal Steiner said that the group had presented hundreds of victims of torture for over 30 years. However, no interrogator has ever stood trial for this barbarous act in Israel.

Steiner said that after 30 years of fighting torture, it had "reached the unfortunate conclusion" that Israel has no wish to end torture, honestly investigate victims' complaints, and prosecute those responsibly.

"For us, this is a necessary and obligatory step today in our struggle for the moral image of Israeli society and for the sake of justice for the victims we represent."

Steiner emphasized that her organization would not have resorted to The Hague if Israel had agreed to handle the issue fairly and transparently.

She noted that over 1,300 complaints of torture victims had been filed with Israeli law enforcement authorities because the system would fulfill its duty, conduct fair and exhaustive investigations, and do justice to the victims.

However, it led to zero indictments and just two criminal investigations - including in cases where "unequivocal evidence of serious violations of the law" has been collected.

The organization accused the intelligence service, the army, the police, and even the courts of complicity in these crimes.

"The law in Israel backs up the culture of falsehood and cover-up that still exists in the security system," the PCATI said.

The organization stated that it is not too late for Israel to prove that it is willing and able to eradicate torture on its own by legislating a law that prohibits torture, conducting professional and transparent investigations into the complaints, and prosecuting those convicted.

The PCATI appeal represents 17 clients who "went through very severe physical torture" by Shin Bet interrogators, who continue to use prohibited methods.

Some of the victims stated at the end of interrogations that they could not stand on their legs due to the severity of the pain, and some gave the interrogators false confessions only to stop the torture.

The committee stressed that torture is done systematically, following the Shin Bet's orders and with the top-level officials' approval.

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