Several Gazans who were recently released from Egyptian prison said they were "brutally tortured" during interrogations. According to the Palestinians, who returned to the Gaza Strip last week, the torture methods included severe beatings, stripping naked, sleep deprivation, sensory deprivation, electric shocks, whippings and verbal abuse. The Gazans, who were suspected of membership in Hamas, entered Egypt during the 12 days after thousands of Palestinians knocked down the border fence on January 23. They were detained without trial and without the possibility of seeing a lawyer or family members. Sources in the Gaza Strip said at least 50 Palestinians had been held by Egypt since the border was breached. Under pressure from Hamas, the Egyptian authorities last week released nearly half of the detainees, who were allowed to cross back into Gaza. Some of the detainees told reporters in the Strip on Sunday that the Egyptians never told them the nature of the charges against them. "When they arrested us, they told us we would be released within hours," said one former detainee. "They didn't tell us anything about the charges against us. The next thing we found ourselves moved to torture centers belonging to the Egyptian mukhabarat [General Intelligence]." Another former detainee said the Egyptian interrogators were "harsh and violent" from the beginning. He said he and his friends were interrogated about the general situation in the Gaza Strip and the whereabouts of top Hamas figures. "They wanted information about the movements of Muhammad Deif and Ahmed Ja'abari [the heads of Hamas's armed wing, Izaddin al-Kassam]," he said. "They also wanted to know where [Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh] hides when Israel attacks the Gaza Strip." He added that the Egyptians also sought information about the several armed groups in Gaza and their relationships with Hamas. Another man who was released from prison said the Egyptians asked him a lot of questions about kidnapped IDF soldier Cpl. Gilad Schalit. "They wanted to know where he's being held and the identity of his captors," he said. "We found it strange that the Egyptians were asking questions that you would expect to hear from Israeli interrogators." The former detainees called on the Egyptian people and parliament to condemn their authorities for torturing Palestinians. They expressed shock at the "inhumane and brutal" torture by the Egyptian security personnel. "We had to deal with people who specialize in various forms of torture," said one former prisoner. "They treated us like animals. "We were allowed to go to the bathroom only twice a day and only when accompanied by a police officer. The food they gave us is not good even for animals. We never expected such treatment from our Arab brothers."