April 13, 2024


JERUSALEM: Nabela thought the United Nations faculty in Gaza Metropolis was a secure haven. Then, the Israeli military arrived.

Troopers stormed the place, ordering males to undress and hauling ladies to a mosque for strip searches, she stated. So started six weeks in Israeli custody that she says included repeated beatings and interrogations.

“The troopers had been very harsh, they beat us and screamed at us in Hebrew,” stated the 39-year-old from Gaza Metropolis, who spoke given that her final identify not be used for worry of being arrested once more. “If we raised our heads or uttered any phrases, they beat us on the top.”

Palestinians detained by Israeli forces in Gaza in the course of the Israel-Hamas conflict have alleged widespread bodily abuse and neglect. It’s not recognized what number of ladies or minors have been detained.

Nabela stated she was shuttled between services inside Israel in a coed group earlier than arriving at Damon Jail within the north, the place she estimated there have been a minimum of 100 ladies.

Rights teams say Israel is “disappearing” Gaza Palestinians — detaining them with out cost or trial and never disclosing to household or attorneys the place they’re held. Israel’s jail service says all “primary rights required are totally utilized by professionally educated jail guards.”

Israel declared conflict after Hamas-led militants killed about 1,200 folks and took roughly 250 others hostage on Oct. 7.

Since then, floor troops have arrested a whole bunch of Palestinians to seek for suspected militants and collect intelligence. Pictures of blindfolded males kneeling, heads bowed and arms certain, have sparked worldwide outrage. In northern Gaza and the southern metropolis of Khan Younis, troops rounded up dozens at a time from UN faculties and hospitals, together with medical personnel.

The army stated it makes detainees undress to seek for explosives, bringing detainees into Israel earlier than releasing them again into Gaza in the event that they’re deemed harmless.

For Nabela, that course of took 47 harrowing days.

Regardless of Israeli evacuation orders, Nabela and her household had determined to not depart Gaza Metropolis, believing nowhere in Gaza was secure. Troops entered the college the place they sheltered on Dec. 24.

“I used to be terrified, imagining they wished to execute us and bury us there,” she stated.

Forces separated Nabela from her 13-year-old daughter and 4-year-old son and loaded her onto a truck certain for a facility in southern Israel. In keeping with the Israeli group Physicians for Human Rights-Israel, or PHRI, all detainees in Gaza are first delivered to the Sde Teiman army base.

“We had been freezing and compelled to stay on our knees on the bottom,” Nabela advised The Related Press from a school-turned-shelter in Rafah the place she’s staying with different lately launched feminine detainees. “Loud music, shouting and intimidation — they wished to humiliate us. We had been handcuffed, blindfolded, and our toes had been tied in chains.”

Moved between a number of prisons, Nabela stated she was subjected to repeated strip searches and interrogations at gunpoint.

Requested about her connection to Hamas and information of the militants’ intensive underground tunnel community, she maintained her innocence, telling interrogators she was a housewife and her husband labored for Hamas’ rival, the Palestinian Authority.

‘AN APPARATUS OF RETRIBUTION AND REVENGE’

One lady detained from Gaza, who spoke on situation of anonymity for worry of one other arrest, advised the AP that in a medical examine earlier than she was moved to Damon Jail, Israeli forces ordered her to kiss an Israeli flag. When she refused, a soldier grabbed her by the hair, smashing her face right into a wall, she stated.

In a report by PHRI, former detainees from Gaza alleged related mistreatment.

One, whose identify was redacted, stated he was urinated on by guards at Ketziot Jail in southern Israel, and witnessed strip searches the place guards compelled bare detainees to face shut to one another and inserted search units into their buttocks.

PHRI described Israel’s prisons, additionally housing Palestinians from the West Financial institution and east Jerusalem held on security-related prices, as “an equipment of retribution and revenge.” It alleged the jail service and army “have been granted free rein to behave nevertheless they see match.”

Originally of the conflict, prisons entered “lockdown mode,” confining detainees to their cells for 2 weeks, the report stated. Underneath wartime emergency measures, Israel’s parliament in October suspended regular cell capability necessities. Since then, inmates have slept on mattresses in overcrowded cells.

Telephone privileges have been utterly suspended, the report stated. At some services, safety wings had been disconnected from electrical energy and water, plunging detainees into darkness for a lot of the day and rendering showers and sinks unusable.

Throughout eight days at an unknown facility in southern Israel, Nabela stated she didn’t bathe and had no entry to menstrual pads or toiletries. Meals was scarce. As soon as, Nabela stated, guards threw down the detainees’ meals and advised them to eat from the ground.

The army stated every detainee receives clothes, blankets and a mattress. It denied that cells had been overcrowded, saying detainees had ample entry to bathrooms, meals, water and medical care.

“The violent and antagonistic therapy of detainees described within the allegations is prohibited,” the army stated in response to an AP request for remark. “Circumstances of inappropriate habits shall be handled.”

It referred questions on Ketziot and Damon prisons to the Israeli Jail Service, which didn’t touch upon the allegations past saying it was uninvolved within the arrests and interrogation of Palestinians from Gaza.

‘UNLAWFUL COMBATANTS’

Nabela stated she by no means spoke with a lawyer or a decide.

Underneath a wartime revision to Israeli legislation, all detainees from Gaza could be held for 45 days with out cost or trial.

Designated “illegal combatants,” they aren’t granted the identical protections underneath worldwide legislation as prisoners of conflict. Their look earlier than a courtroom could be delayed and entry to an lawyer withdrawn, based on PHRI. The Israeli rights group HaMoked stated there are 600 folks from Gaza held as illegal combatants in Israeli prisons, and extra may very well be held in army services.

Palestinian detainees advised PHRI that enough medical care was uncommon, even for these needing insulin or chemotherapy therapies.

An official doc obtained by the AP, laying out operations on the Sde Teiman army medical facility, specified that illegal combatants be handled handcuffed and blindfolded.

Medical workers’s names had been saved nameless “to take care of the protection, well-being and lives of the caregivers,” it stated. It didn’t require affected person consent for medical procedures and stated confidential medical info may very well be handed to detention heart workers.

The army stated the handcuffing of detainees was “executed in accordance with their assessed stage of hazard and medical state.” Israel’s Ministry of Well being didn’t reply to requests for remark.

Eleven Palestinian detainees have died in Israeli custody since Oct. 7, based on the advocacy group the Palestinian Prisoners’ Membership, and the newest was simply this week. No less than 5 had persistent well being situations, which PHRI says raises considerations that they died due to medical neglect.

The Israeli army stated it might study the deaths.

‘BETTER THAN GAZA’

Nabela’s fortunes improved when she arrived at Damon. There, she met Palestinian ladies detained from the West Financial institution.

She stated the ladies had been sort. She had electrical energy and heat showers. Her interrogator questioned aloud why Nabela was detained.

A month and a half after her arrest, a jail administrator introduced Nabela can be launched with about 20 different ladies. Israeli buses introduced them to a Gaza crossing, the place they made their approach to UN shelters within the southern metropolis of Rafah, stuffed with displaced Palestinians. She can’t journey to Gaza Metropolis, the place her household stays.

Nabela, her face bruised, recalled one among her ultimate interrogations. She had begun to weep, and her interrogator advised her:

“Don’t cry about it. You’re higher dwelling right here than Gaza.”