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LETTER FROM AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL, DATED MARCH 14, 1988
March 14, 1988
Chairman Lee H. Hamilton
Dear Chairman Hamilton:
I hope that you and your colleagues on the subcommittee will focus on human rights in the Israeli Occupied Territories in your next hearing.
There are several issues which are of particular concern:
1. What efforts has the U.S. government made to monitor trials before military courts of thousands of Palestinians who have been arbitrarily detained and summarily tried and convicted? Amnesty International believes that these courts are inconsistent with international standards of justice.
2. In addition to the Israeli government's announced policy of beating demonstrators, there have been an increased number of complaints and affidavits from detainees who charge that they were ill-treated and tortured by Israeli security officials while held in incommunicado detention. What efforts has the U.S. government made to enforce Public Law 98-447, the Congressional Resolution Against Torture, in the course of U.S.- Israeli relations?
3. Hundreds of Palestinians, including women and children, have been beaten by Israeli soldiers, at least 85 have been shot dead. How many Israeli soldiers have been disciplined for their actions, which violate Israeli army regulations for quelling unrest and the international human rights treaties which Israel has ratified? How have they been disciplined?
4. Has the U.S. government called for an inquiry by the Israeli government into these abuses? If so, what has been the response?
We believe the human rights situation in the Israeli Occupied Territories should be addressed in future hearings by your committee. Amnesty International would welcome the opportunity to testify at such hearings.
I appreciate the serious attention I know you will give to these human rights concerns.
REPORT FROM AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL, DATED MARCH, 1988
"Human Rights Violations in Israel and the Occupied.
The death toll in the Israeli-Occupied Territories continues to rise. At least 85 civilians have been shot in violation of Israeli Army regulations for quelling unrest. Hundreds have been severely beaten by soldiers, wounded Palestinians have reportedly been dragged out of a Gaza hospital, beaten and taken into military custody.
In mid-January Yitzhak Rabin, the Israeli Minister of Defense, appeared to give the armed forces license to beat indiscriminately when he publicly announced that the army would use "might, power and beatings", rather than live ammunition, to deter violent demonstrators. Both before and after that announcement demonstrators and bystanders, including women and children, were beaten by soldiers with clubs and rifle butts. Many have been hospitalized with broken limbs, fractures, head wounds and extensive bruising.
Thousands have been arbitrarily detained, frequently in nightime raids where soldiers have arrested entire households. Many of those arrested had no involvement with the demonstrations.
Detainees have been held incommunicado and denied access to lawyers and family members. AI has received an increased number of complaints and affidavits, that detainees have been hooded, beaten and, in some cases, tortured with electric shock in order to force confessions. Israeli authorities have ignored the majority of these reports. In several cases the lawyers who made complaints were themselves threatened.
Hundreds of the Palestinians arrested have already been sentenced to prison terms following summary trials before military courts which fail to meet international standards of justice.
On February 20, 1988 Amnesty International sent a mission to Israel and the Occupied Territories and urged the Israeli government to launch an immediate judicial inquiry into all killings by Israeli soldiers and make public the results of the inquiry. We also recommended that soldiers and security officials responsible for beating and illtreating detainees be prosecuted. In this regard, it is important to recall Public Law 98-447 which mandates the U.S. Government to protest the use of torture wherever it is practiced.
ISRAEL AND THE OCCUPIED TERRITORIES
ORAL STATEMENT TO THE UNITED NATIONS COMMISSION ON HUMAN RIGHTS
Human rights violations on an extensive scale have been a feature of the Israeli occupation in the West Bank and Gaza in recent months. In response to Palestinian protest and unrest, some of it violent, Israeli armed forces have repeatedly resorted to the use of lethal force and have inflicted severe - often indiscriminate - beatings on demonstrators and others in the Occupied Territories opposed to continued Israeli administration. Leaders of the Palestinian community have been administratively detained or deported to Lebanon, while hundreds of demonstrators and other protestors have been taken before military courts, summarily tried and sentenced to prison terms.
Since 9 December 1987, when demonstrations began, at least 85 demonstrators and bystanders have been shot and killed in the West Bank and Gaza (Palestinian sources give a considerably higher figure for the numbers of deaths during this period). The dead include women and teenagers. An unknown number of Palestinians have been injured, many seriously, not only by gunfire but also after soldiers have deliberately carried out beatings. In mid-January Yitzhak Rabin, the Israeli Minister of Defence, appeared to give the armed forces license to beat indiscriminately when he publicly announced that the army would use "might, power and beatings“, rather than live ammunition, to deter violent demonstrators. Both before and after that announcement demonstrators and bystanders, including women and children, were beaten by soldiers with clubs and rifle butts. Many have been hospitalized with broken limbs, fractures, head wounds and extensive bruising. Some were reportedly beaten after soldiers had taken them into custody or after being injured by gunfire. Members of the armed forces were reportedly seen dragging wounded Palestinians out of Al Shifa Hospital in Gaza, beating them and taking them into custody.
In December Amnesty International urged the Israeli Defence Minister to order a thorough investigation of the killings and beatings, many of which appeared to be the result of unnecessary and excessive force. Amnesty International said that there should be a full investigation in each case to determine whether security forces had complied with official regulations governing the use of firearms and whether those killed or injured had in fact been engaged in life-threatening activity. Amnesty International understands that some investigations have been carried out, but is concerned that not all cases have been investigated and that the use of live ammunition and beatings continues.
Members of the armed forces have carried out arbitrary arrests without warrants and without telling people why they were being arrested. It
appears that people have been arrested who were not involved in the disturbances. For example, Amnesty International has received reports that soldiers have carried out mass arrests and have visited homes at night and arrested all teenagers present. Many detainees in all parts of the Occupied Territories have been held incommunicado. Some were denied access to lawyers or their families for up to two weeks.
Defendants in the Occupied Territories have been denied basic rights in summary trials held in late December and January. Before lawyers decided to boycott the trials, defence lawyers complained that they were not given enough time to prepare their cases, were not given details of the charges before the court hearing, were not told of the date of the trial, and were not always allowed to see their clients beforehand. Trials in Gaza and the West Bank continued after the boycott by lawyers; defendants, including fourteen and fifteen-year-olds, were tried and convicted without being represented at all.
During the past year Amnesty International has been concerned about an increasing number of reports of ill-treatment and torture of detainees in the Occupied Territories, to extract information or confessions or to harrass and intimidate. These allegations have been made against members of the Israeli Defence Force who carry out arrests and administer the detention centres of Al Fara'a and Dhahiriya in the West Bank and "Ansar 2" in Gaza, and against the General Security Service who conduct interrogations in regular prisons in the Occupied Territories and in the detention centres. Amnesty International has received numerous reports, including affidavits, that detainees have been beaten, kicked and punched on arrest and while being taken into custody. Interrogation methods described by former detainees have included hoodings, beatings all over the body including the head and genitals, falaga (beatings on the soles of the feet), being hung by a rope from the ceiling and swung from wall to wall, prolonged exposure to cold weather or air conditioning, solitary confinement for between two and 15 days, prolonged sleep deprivation, and verbal abuse and threats. In December two detainees in Al Fara'a alleged in affidavits that they had been subjected to electric shocks. Some official investigations have been carried out following complaints of illtreatment. For example, in November six soldiers were convicted of illtreating detainees in "Ansar 2" and an inquiry has been ordered into interrogation methods in Al Fara'a, although the findings of the investigation are not known. However, lawyers say that complaints of torture or ill-treatment submitted on behalf of their clients are often ignored -this reportedly happened when I awyers drew the authorities' attention to the affidavits concerning the use of electric shocks thoroughly investigated. Amnesty International has details of several cases where lawyers or their clients have been subjected to measures designed to intimidate them after they made complaints. Since 1986 Amnesty International has urged the authorities to carry out a thorough investigation of eleven sample cases where detailed complaints of illtreatment had been made, but to date Amnesty International has received only one reply from the authorities as to whether such investigations have been conducted. Where investigations have taken place, the lawyers have not been satisfied that they were thoroughly conducted.
For many years Amnesty International has been concerned about the administrative detention or restriction to towns or villages of political activists in the Occupied Territories. They have included journalists, students, members of trade unions, women's and human rights organizations. Amnesty International has repeatedly expressed to the Israeli Government
its concern that in general administrative detention orders and town arrest orders can be (and in Amnesty International's opinion have been, abused to detain people for the non-violent exercise of their right to freedom of opinion and expression, and that the judicial review at military court hearings is inadequate to prevent such abuse. Amnesty International has also expressed concern that those detained or restricted by such orders are routinely not given full and precise details of the reasons for the order nor the evidence on which the order is based, which makes it impossible to challenge the order effectively.
Mr Chairman, in concluding this statement Amnesty International wishes to take the opportunity to call publicly on the Israeli authorities to take immediate action aimed at curbing human rights violations in the Occupied Territories. In particular, Amnesty International believes that the Israeli Government should:
Conduct a thorough and impartial investigation into all killings by members of the Israeli armed forces in the Occupied Territories since 9 December 1987, and make public the results of the inquiry.
Take steps to restrict the use of lethal force by Israeli soldiers in the Occupied Territories. There should be full respect for the internationally-recognized requirement, included in the United Nations Code of Conduct for Law Enforcement Officials, that authorities may use lethal force only when strictly necessary. The official commentary to the United Nations Code of Conduct is particularly relevant on this point. It states:
"Every effort should be made to exclude the use of firearms
Take steps to prevent the use of unreasonable force in maintaining law and order. Amnesty International considers that the numerous reports of beatings often resulting in fractures and extensive bruising, describe law enforcement behaviour going well beyond what might be considered reasonable force even in response to stone throwing demonstrators. Article 3 of the Code of Conduct for Law Enforcement Officials states that force may be used "only when strictly necessary and for the extent required for the periormance of their duty." It should certainly not be used against people who have been wounded or are in custody.
Ensure that no one is arrested and detained arbitrarily, and that anyone arrested is informed of the reasons for the arrest. Accurate information concerning the whereabouts of detainees should be made available as soon as possible to relatives and lawyers.
Guarantee that everyone should have adequate time and facilities for
Prevent anyone from being administratively detained or restricted on