B’Tselem: Police investigating alleged abuse of Palestinian minors during interrogations

Rights group says children were tied to trees; police respond that the investigations will be fully transparent.

police arrest handcuffs suspect cops criminal 311 (R) (photo credit: Benoit Tessier / Reuters)
police arrest handcuffs suspect cops criminal 311 (R)
(photo credit: Benoit Tessier / Reuters)
The police are investigating eight complaints of alleged abuse against Palestinian minors during interrogations at the police station in the West Bank region of Gush Etzion, the non-governmental group B’Tselem said.
Since November 2009, it said, it had documented 64 such cases in interrogations at that station, of which it sent 31 complaints to the Justice Ministry’s Police Investigation Department.
Similar reports are not made at other Judea and Samaria Police stations in the West Bank, said B’Tselem spokeswoman Sarit Michaeli.
“The high number of reports B’Tselem has received regarding violent interrogations at the Etzion station, and the fact that they span several years, gives rise to heavy suspicion that this is not a case of a single interrogator who chose to use illegal interrogation methods, but rather an entire apparatus that backs him up and allows such conduct to take place,” Michaeli said.
But she said that her organization has only filed 11 complaints, because in many cases the families opt not to press charges against the police.
Out of the 64 cases they documented, she said, 33 families did not want to complained and another 20 dropped their complaints after they were filed.
In some cases it’s a trust issue, she said. In others, she added, the families feared security forces would seek retribution against them by denying family members work permits.
Out of the 11, the police closed three of the cases but are investigating the remaining eight, she said.
The Judea and Samaria police said that once the eight investigations were completed they would know how to act. But they downplayed B’Tselem’s overall report.
“Israel police investigations are mostly documented and filmed, that information in its entirety is passed with full transparency to the defense attorneys’ handling and is presented in court,” the police said.
It remarked that “the fact not a single indictment had been filed in any of those instances, speaks for itself.”
But B’Tselem said that the minors complained that violence had been used against them to force their confessions to stone throwing, and that in some cases it alleged police actions amounted to torture.
It added that some of the minors “reported being threatened with sexual assault, harm to family members or electrocution. Some of the minors claimed that their initial confession was taken by an interrogator in civilian clothes, and that an official, recorded interrogation began only after they confessed to having thrown stones.”
In one of the testimonies B’Tselem provided the media, a Palestinian minor complained he was blindfolded and his hands were tied. The teen said the police took him out of the car and tied him to a tree.
“Then they raised my cuffed hands and tied them to the tree, too. It hurt a lot. ‘Daud’ started punching me. After a few minutes, he took out a gun and said: ‘I’ll murder you if you don’t confess! Out here, no one will find you. We’ll kill you and leave you here,’” the teen recounted.