14 July, 2024
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Lawyer says notorious Israeli detention camp is ‘beyond imagination’


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Lawyer says notorious Israeli detention camp is ‘beyond imagination’

Detainees at the Sde Teiman facility sleep on ground and are forbidden from speaking to one another

MEE staff

Israeli soldiers detain a Palestinian man during a raid in Deir al-Ghusun, in the Israeli occupied West Bank, 4 May 2024 (Reuters/Raneen Sawafta)

A lawyer who met with Palestinian prisoners in the now-infamous Israeli Sde Teiman detention camp described their detention conditions as “criminal” and “beyond imagination”.

Khaled Mhajne told Al Araby TV that more than 1,000 Palestinians from Gaza are being held at the shadowy interrogation facility in the Negev desert, where the New York Times recently reported that inmates are subjected to systematic torture and sexual abuse.

“They sleep on the ground without blankets and pillows, and the Israeli forces deal with them in a criminal manner,” he said.

Mhajne, the first lawyer to gain access to the detention camp, said detainees are forbidden from standing and are constantly handcuffed and blindfolded, even while sleeping.

They are also prohibited from speaking to one another, and are only permitted to take one-minute-long showers, facing punishment if they take any longer.

At the centre Mhajne met with detained journalist Mohammad Arab, who has been “isolated from the world for months”.

He added that Palestinian detainees are also subjected to rape and sexual abuse in Israeli custody.

“The war being waged against Palestinian prisoners, especially against the prisoners from the Gaza Strip, is a war no less criminal than what the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip are experiencing,” the lawyer said.

Iron bars, electrocution, humiliation

A three-month investigation by the New York Times recently revealed that detainees at Sde Teiman were subjected to systematic sexual abuse and torture by Israeli forces.

Detainees who spoke to the Times described being forced to sit on metal sticks that pierced their rectums, having to wear nappies, and being electrocuted during days-long interrogations.

They also said they were kept in degrading positions, urinated on, and handcuffed tightly for prolonged periods, causing severe injuries that led to amputation in some cases. 

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Amid the allegations, the Israeli military announced it was phasing out the centre and said it had begun transferring hundreds of detainees to other facilities.

Human rights groups have reported widespread torture and abuse of Palestinian detainees in Israeli custody that have led to the deaths of around 60 Palestinians, including 36 who died at Sde Teiman, according to a tally by Middle East Eye based on media reports. 

On Wednesday, the Gaza government media office called for an investigation into the death “under torture” of Dr Iyad Rantisi in Israeli detention.

Last week, videos emerged of recently released detainees detailing their experiences of torture and abuse in detention, with one man describing a cell mate dying “in his arms” after being struck on the head by an Israeli soldier.

In March, MEE heard testimonies from Palestinians detained by Israeli forces, describing how they were physically tortured with dogs and electricity, subjected to mock executions, and held in humiliating and degrading conditions.

Israeli forces have detained between 4,000 and 5,000 people from the Gaza Strip in the military’s ongoing invasion, including women, children, the elderly, paramedics, journalists, doctors and aid workers, Palestinian and Israeli authorities say.

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