In a landmark ruling, the Jerusalem District ordered the Palestinian Authority to pay compensation of 13.2 million shekels (approximately $3.5 million) to dozens of suspected collaborators with Israel who were systematically tortured while incarcerated in PA jails.
Hadashot news reported Thursday the plaintiffs hope that Israel will be able to collect the compensation from the Palestinian Authority, and that if not, it could be raised by offsetting tax revenues collected by Israel on the PA’s behalf.
The 51 plaintiffs alleged they had been arrested on suspicion of providing Israeli authorities with information and assistance.
The court last year ruled in favor of the plaintiffs in an 1,800-page summary following 90 court sessions and years of deliberations, with judge Moshe Drori saying the testimonies and evidence proved the allegations beyond any reasonable doubt.
Many of the plaintiffs were arrested by the PA’s forces from within Israeli territory — mostly East Jerusalem — and/or have Israeli citizenship. The Jerusalem court therefore ruled it had the jurisdiction to preside over the case.
Plaintiffs said while held between 1990 and 2003, interrogators beat them, put out cigarettes on their bodies, pulled out their teeth, forced them into painful positions for lengthy periods of time and withheld food and drink. Several said their genitals were abused, leaving them sterile and impotent.
One man told Hadashot news of the physical abuse he suffered, explaining how his arms and legs were restrained and his face covered with a bag.
“You can’t see anything. You just receive blows till you pass out,” he said.
Another said that he was unable to have sexual relations after he was forced to sit on a broken glass bottle.
In some cases prisoners were locked inside hot metal containers on hot days, or were alternately doused with searing and freezing water. Others recounted being forced to drink out of toilet bowls or sit on broken bottles. Some were made to witness the executions of other suspected collaborators. Prisoners were often denied medical attention.
The PA, while acknowledging the imprisonment of some of the plaintiffs, denied that any torture took place.
Israeli officials told Hadashot news that they do not believe the abuses still occur in Palestinian incarceration facilities.