2 Arab Israelis allege torture by Palestinian police

Brothers held for a month on drug charges, freed on Tuesday; say they were hung upside down, tied up

Illustrative: Cannabis leaves (Yossi Zamir/ Flash90)
Illustrative: Cannabis leaves (Yossi Zamir/ Flash90)

Two Arab Israelis from central Israel on Thursday claimed Palestinian security forces tortured them during their month-long detention in a West Bank facility on drug allegations.

The two brothers, from the city of Ramle, were arrested in November in Beitunia, close to Ramallah, by the Palestinian police, and released on Tuesday at a checkpoint near the West Bank settlement of Beit El. Upon their release, they were detained for further questioning by Israeli police.

The brothers were arrested on suspicion of establishing a marijuana growing business. They claimed that they were tortured while they were held in the Palestinian facility, including being hung upside down for hours at a time and tied up in order to pressure them to confess. They also maintained they were not given enough food and were denied the opportunity to shower.

Israel’s Civil Administration, a unit of the Defense Ministry that manages the day-to-day operations of the West Bank, was only notified of their arrest two weeks after the incident. The brothers’ father said that he contacted the Israel Police’s Judea and Samaria Division in the West Bank about his sons’ arrest, but they ignored his request to push for their release.

Attorney Faris Mustafa Ali of the public defender’s office in Jerusalem said the family was insistent they would have been treated differently, and that Israel would have taken every step necessary to bring about their release, had they been Jews.

The Judea and Samaria division of the Israel Police rejected the family’s claim, saying, “The policemen made every effort to bring about their release, including countless applications for this, and cooperation with the other security forces involved in coordination with the PA.”

The police further said that when they looked into the matter, they found that “the brothers owned an apartment in Ramallah where they built a large drugs laboratory and that they were known to the police and had already been arrested several times for previous criminal transgressions.

The Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT), responsible for implementing the government’s policy in Judea and Samaria and vis-à-vis the Gaza Strip, said the pair “carried out grave criminal activities together with Palestinian residents,” and similarly insisted that it “operated at every rank and level in order to bring about their release.”

The Civil Administration added that the family had not brought any claims of torture to its attention.

After the pair was questioned by Israeli police, they were brought to the Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court, where they were ordered to remain under house arrest until Friday.

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