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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 Israel.

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 of jail.

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 of prisoners.

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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