‘Palestinian Guantanamo Bay’ charged with illegally torturing detainees, report says

The PA’s Jericho detention center is notorious for its cruelty, employing extreme modes of torture.

By World Israel News Staff

A Palestinian Authority prison known as the “slaughterhouse of Jericho” is conducting extreme methods of torture — illegal under Palestinian law — on its detainees, including food and sleep deprivation and threats of sexual violence against family members, a report by the Israel Hayom daily published Wednesday found.

Detainees at the Jericho detention center, also referred to as PA’s Guantanamo Bay, said they suffered “cruel physical and emotional torture,” the report said.

Torture is illegal according to Palestinian Authority law. The anti-Israel human rights group Amnesty International last week published a report saying that “torture and other ill-treatment continue to be rife in prisons administered by Palestinian authorities.”

Israel Hayom‘s report comes amid ongoing arrests of Palestinian activists accused of affiliation with the Hamas terror group or else engaging in anti-PA activism.

Apart from Hamas and Islamic Jihad security prisoners, detainees at the prison also included members of PA President Mahmoud Abbas’ ruling Fatah faction who are suspected of being “enemies of the PA,” as well as anyone deemed by the government in Ramallah to be guilty of causing “disturbance to the public order and national stability.”

Last week, a protest calling for the release of the detainees and for the shuttering of the detention center took place in Ramallah’s central Manara Square.

More than 250 complaints of torture at PA prisons were filed in 2021 alone, the report said, citing statistics from the Independent Palestinian Rights Network, and added that the real number of incidents is likely much higher.

According to the testimonies of Palestinians detained at the facility, they sustain regular beatings all over their bodies and have their heads covered and their hands tied behind their backs for extended periods of time. They are blackmailed, prevented from eating and sleeping as well as from seeing lawyers and family members. Palestinian security forces will also threaten detainees with acts of violence, including sexual violence, against their family members, the report said.

“For the past week, I have been beaten all over my body, my hands tied in all kinds of positions that leave my back bent or my hands hung above me, and they leave heavy objects made of iron and bricks on my legs,” Ahmed Harish recently told a PA court.

Harish’s sister said: “Ahmed cannot walk or move his head or move. He doesn’t respond, and we understand that he is undergoing torture, is being tied with cables, his eyes are covered all the time, and he is beaten. He’s lost half of his weight, and his speech is heavy, it’s hard to comprehend. He said he’s never experienced this kind of torture.

“We won’t wait for my brother to become Nizar Banat,” she said, referring to the political activist from Hebron who was beaten to death by Palestinian security officers during his detention last year.

Omar Rahal of the SHAMS Human Rights and Democracy Media Centers in Ramallah told Israel Hayom: “There needs to be oversight and the implementation of legal decisions. There is no planned or intentional decision to use torture, and as it happens, it is done by people on the ground.”

The report concluded by noting that the testimonies emerging from the prison were likely to make the U.S. administration “uncomfortable,” especially ahead of President Joe Biden’s meeting with Abbas next month. Biden made human rights a cornerstone of his foreign policy campaign promises.

“While human rights organizations direct their criticism at Israel for violating rights and its treatment of Palestinian detainees, a majority of them ignore complaints of torture in the PA,” the report said.