Newsletter : 4fax1118.txt
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>PD NOVEMBER 18, 1994, V2, #207
Israel to Leave Haiti
A delegation of Israeli police began a three-month stint with the
multinational force in Haiti on Oct. 6, and is scheduled to be replaced
at the beginning of January. "The (Israeli) police needs its officers in
Israel. We gave a notable contribution and fulfilled our duty," Shahal said.
Israel Accused of Stalling Autonomy
By Al Pessin (Jerusalem)
Palestinian officials have reacted angrily to a statement by
Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, linking a promised change in
the Palestinian charter to the expansion of Palestinian autonomy.
A senior Palestinian official called Rabin's statement "a
deliberate attempt" to postpone further implementation of the peace
accord. The chief Palestinian negotiator on plans to expand
autonomy, Saeb Erakat, said such comments could lead to the
collapse of the peace process.
Erakat was referring to comments Rabin made to reporters on his
aircraft Wednesday as he flew to the United States. Rabin said
expanding Palestinian autonomy to include all of the West Bank "is
linked to a great extent" to the delivery of a promised change in
the Palestinian charter, to end its call for the destruction of
Israeli news reports indicated an absolute link between the two
issues, but Rabin's comments appear to stop short of that.
Israeli officials say the prime minister was angered by a speech
made Tuesday by the Palestinian leader, Yasir Arafat, in which
he referred to Israel as the "Zionist enemy."
Economics Minister Shimon Shitrit says such statements make it
more important for the Palestinians to live up to the promise to
change their charter.
In an interview with Israel Radio, Shitrit said officials are
tired of hearing that Arafat has political problems which make it
difficult to convene the appropriate Palestinian bodies and gain
their approval for the promised change. Shitrit said it is time
Arafat found a way to get it done, but he did not answer directly
when asked whether Israel will stop the peace process if Arafat
does not deliver.
Israeli Human Rights Group Says Government Tortures Prisoners
By Al Pessin (Jerusalem)
An Israeli human rights group has called for an end to what it
refers to as the "habitual" and "routine" use of torture against
Palestinian prisoners, and has warned the government not to expand
the use of force in interrogations. The Israeli Government refuted
the group's charges.
The human rights group B'Tselem published a report focusing on the
experiences of nine Palestinian prisoners -- one of them just 15
years old -- and testimony by security officers at four trials.
The report accuses the Israeli army and the General Security
Service of using several methods of torture on the prisoners,
including physical violence, deprivation of food, sleep and bathing
facilities, tying suspects to chairs for weeks at a time and
confinement in small closets, and hot, cold or filthy cells.
The group says prisoners receive such treatment without having been
convicted, or even charged with a crime, and they are not allowed
to meet with a lawyer or family members.
One of the report's authors, Yuval Ginbar, says using torture is
illegal, immoral, and often counterproductive -- either not
extracting any information or producing false confessions, and
often inspiring prisoners to become more radical when they get out
But Israeli Government spokesman Uri Dromi denies that torture is
used routinely. Dromi said he agrees with the argument that abuse
of prisoners can be counterproductive, particularly, he says, on
the often well-educated supporters of radical Palestinian groups.
"You don't use torture and you don't use physical measures against
those people. (With) those people you need to use brains and you
need to use cunning and elaborate ways, because torturing them or
beating them up or things like this will lead to nothing. So it's
not only illegal to do so, but it's also unproductive."
The Israeli army issued a statement saying its officers are
forbidden to use violence in interrogations.
Still, Dromi says the security services -- which answer directly to
the prime minister -- are authorized to use what he calls "moderate
physical pressure" when time is a factor and lives are at stake.
He says officials have decided to review the criteria for allowing
such measures, and that is what has caused the current controversy.
Some officials believe interrogators should be free to use force
whenever a terrorist group has issued a public threat, rather than
only when there is a kidnapping or hostage situation in progress.
Ginbar says members of his group have been called traitors, and one
member had a bomb threat at his home just a few days ago. B'Tselem
also notes that the use of torture has been extended to Jewish
prisoners accused of planning terror attacks on Arabs. Ginbar says
the measures used against Israelis are much lighter than those used
against Palestinians, but he says the security services are making
what he calls "a bad beginning" in their treatment of a new group
The human rights activists brought one former Palestinian prisoners
to their news conference. Twenty-one year-old Fawzi Mojahed spoke
in Hebrew about his recent confinement. He said he was shackled to
a small chair for 17 days, beaten repeatedly, and then put in a
small closet. Ginbar translated some of Mojahed's story, involving
an interrogator referred to as "Captain Martin."
"He hit him on his shoulders until his shoulders turned blue. Then
he made him sit in banana position, namely hands tied to the feet
in a sort of awkward way, and he told him to count from one to 500
and back to one."
Ginbar of B'Tselem says many cases of Palestinians subjected to
torture end with only minor charges filed, or no charges at all.
Government spokesman Dromi says the Palestinians who report torture
to B'Tselem are promoting a political agenda.
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