La polizia israeliana sotto inchiesta per abusi su minorenni palestinesi

articolo
Gush Etzion, Israel

Robert Tait

B'Tselem, un gruppo israeliano per i diritti umani, ha affermato  che  il Dipartimento di Israele per le inchieste di polizia (DIP) sta conducendo un'inchiesta su  presunti abusi che rasentono la tortura.L'indagine si concentra su interrogatori effettuati da agenti in una stazione di polizia di Gush Etzion, un insediamento ebraico nella  Cisgiordania occupata a sud di Gerusalemme.B'Tselem ha precisato  di aver  le testimonianze di 64 adolescenti  palestinesi(dal novembre 2009),  la maggioranza di loro  ha dichiarato di aver subito un trattamento brutale mentre veniva interrogata."  Hanno denunciato  di essere stati sottoposti  a gravi violenze fisiche che, in alcuni casi, si possono definire  vere e proprie  torture ", ha detto Sairit Michaeli  portavoce di B'Tselem. "Inoltre alcuni di loro hanno riferito di essere stati minacciati  di violenza sessuale, di danni ai familiari o di uso della corrente elettrica  ."B'Tselem ha citato la testimonianza di un giovane , identificato solo con le sue iniziali MH , di   14 anni al momento dell'arresto  : 
"Ha afferrato  la mia testa e  ha iniziato a sbatterla  contro il muro  . Poi mi ha dato un pugno, mi ha schiaffeggiato e preso a calci le gambe. Il dolore era immenso e non ne potevo più. Poi ha iniziato a imprecare contro di me. Ha detto cose sporche su di me e su mia madre. Ha minacciato di violentarmi o compiere atti sessuali su di me, se non avessi confessato di  lanciare pietre. "Un altro testimone ha detto di essere stato  legato ad un albero  con gli occhi bendati mentre chi lo interrogava gridava :  "Io ti ammazzo se non confessi"Alcuni  dei  33 ragazzi  che hanno testimoniato hanno scelto di non sporgere denuncia   per  timore delle conseguenze e  20 l'  hanno  successivamente ritirata. Il dipartimento di polizia di indagini ha già respinto tre denunce, una delle quali comprendeva le accuse di minacce di abusi sessuali.Ms Michaeli ha precisato  che le accuse sono  credibili perché i ragazzi   in genere non si conoscevano, minando così la tesi  della  polizia che i giovani palestinesi  si fossero   deliberatamente inventate  storie  simili  . La polizia ha indagato   giovani che lanciavano  pietre vicino a una strada utilizzata sia dai palestinesi  che dai  coloni ebrei.Testimonianze  di altri palestinesi  interrogati  in altre stazioni di polizia in Cisgiordania non hanno mostrato modelli simili di abuso.Luba Samri, portavoce della polizia israeliana, ha confermato che  le accuse sono state oggetto di indagine, ma ha respinto molte delle testimonianze. "Gli interrogatori da parte della Polizia  sono documentate e la maggior parte  visualizzata  in tribunale. Per quanto riguarda le indagini che sono in corso , aspetteremo fino alla fine delle indagini e poi agiremo  di conseguenza. "Un rapporto dell ' UNICEF, all'inizio di quest'anno ha evidenziato  un  "diffuso, sistematico e istituzionalizzato" maltrattamento dei bambini palestinesi  presi in custodia dalle forze israeliane in Cisgiordania.."
A report by the UN children's charity UNICEF earlier this year found there was "widespread, systematic and institutionalised" ill-treatment of Palestinian children who were taken into detention by Israeli forces in the West Bank.

2   Testimonies: Systematic abuse, beatings and threats against Palestinian children

Israeli human rights organization B’Tselem is laying the blame on Israel’s police for ignoring the systematic abuse and violations of Palestinian minors’ rights during interrogations. The organization has received dozens of complaints by Palestinian residents under the age of 18 who have been beaten and threatened during interrogations in Etzion police station, which is in charge of the Hebron and Bethlehem areas. Many of those minors and their families were afraid or reluctant to press formal charges.
According to B’Tselem, some of the events described included torture. Once defendants admit to breaking the law (usually stone throwing), the beating and threats cease.
Palestinians are tried in military courts, where almost 100 percent of defendants are convicted. In many cases, the leading evidence against a defendant is his or her testimony during police or army interrogations.
Over the last three-and-a-half years, B’Tselem received 56 complaints of beatings, abuse and threats towards minors in Etzion police station. Minors between the ages of 12 and 18 have been threatened with sexual abuse, violence against their parents (including threats to kill them), and electrical shocks. In at least one case, a 14-year-old was made to listen to blood-curdling screams from a nearby room, while being told that the same fate awaits him. Others were beaten, at times while their hands were tied.
>Read +972′s special coverage: Children under occupation
B’Tselem has transferred 31 complaints to the Justice Ministry unit in charge of investigating police violations. Twenty families eventually decided to withdraw their complaint, fearing retribution from the authorities, and the Ministry is not willing to look into cases which are not submitted by the victim him/herself. The remaining 11 cases were either dropped by the Ministry or because the investigation was never concluded.
Here are two of the testimonies collected by B’Tselem:
M.A., resident of Husan, 15-years-old at the time of his arrest.
The interrogator “Daud” took me outside with a soldier. They blindfolded me. The plastic cable ties were still on my hands. They put me in a car and started driving. I don’t know where they took me. We reached some place outside Etzion and they forced me out of the car. My hands really hurt because of the cable ties. They took off my blindfold. I didn’t know where I was. They tied me to a tree, and 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.
M.H., resident of Husan, 14-years-old at the time of his arrest.
The interrogator made me go into a room. He grabbed my head and started banging it against the wall. Then he punched me, slapped me and kicked my legs. The pain was immense, and I felt like I couldn’t stand any longer. Then he started swearing at me. He said filthy things about me and about my mother. He threatened to rape me, or perform sexual acts on me, if I didn’t confess to throwing stones. His threats really scared me, because he was very cruel and it was just the two of us in the room. I remembered what I’d seen on the news, when British and American soldiers raped and took photos of naked Iraqis.
The Justice Ministry has informed B’Tselem that it will look into the claim regarding the “systematic nature” of human rights violations in the station.
Palestinians are subject to military control, and lack the legal defenses Israeli citizens receive. Among other things, children are often not interrogated by a policeman who specializes in minors, and a lawyer is often not present during the interrogation. Furthermore, children are made to sign documents in Hebrew (which most of them don’t speak), and are tried by military tribunals for long periods in prison, even for minor offenses.
Related:
INFOGRAPHICS: Children under occupation
Hope ends here: The children’s court at Ofer Military Prison
Detained: Testimonies from Palestinian children imprisoned by Israel

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