‘Dead or Alive?’ – NYT Report Reveals Torture, Abuse inside Israel’s Detention Center

The New York Times revealed Israel's systematic torture and abuse at the Sde Tainan detention center. (Photo: screen grab)

By Palestine Chronicle Staff  

Two journalists from The New York Times spent three months interviewing Israeli soldiers who worked at Sde Teiman and Palestinians detained there. 

Israel is carrying out a policy of systematic torture in the army base of Sde Teiman, which has been used as a detention camp for Palestinians from the Gaza Strip, a new investigation by the New York Times confirmed on Thursday.  

Reports of abuse at Sde Teiman had already emerged in both Israeli and Arab media, following outcries from local and international rights groups about the horrific conditions there.

Two journalists from The New York Times spent three months interviewing Israeli soldiers who worked at Sde Teiman and Palestinians detained there. 

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One of the journalists also visited the site, providing additional insight into Israel’s policy of systematic torture and abuse since October 7, challenging the Israeli government’s repeated claims that it operates according to accepted international practices and laws. 

The journalist’s account aligns with previous reports from prominent media outlets.

Sde Teiman, which is mainly used as a “makeshift interrogation center”, has become “a major focus of accusations that the Israeli military has mistreated detainees, including people later determined to have no ties to Hamas or other armed groups”, the New York Times reported. 

Systematic Abuse

“My colleagues didn’t know whether I was dead or alive,” reported The Times, quoting Muhammad al-Kurdi, 38, an ambulance driver whom the military confirmed was detained at Sde Teiman late last year.

“I was imprisoned for 32 days,” said al-Kurdi, who was captured in November after his ambulance convoy tried to pass through an Israeli military checkpoint south of Gaza City. “It felt like 32 years,” he added.

The investigation revealed that 1,200 Palestinian civilians were detained at Sde Teiman “in demeaning conditions without the ability to plead their cases to a judge for up to 75 days.” Additionally, detainees were denied “access to lawyers for up to 90 days”.

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“Eight former detainees, all of whom the military has confirmed were held at the site and who spoke on the record, variously said they had been punched, kicked and beaten with batons, rifle butts and a hand-held metal detector while in custody,” the report said.

Others reportedly stated that “they had been forced to wear only a diaper while being interrogated” and that “they had received electric shocks during their interrogations.”

According to the NYT, most of these testimonies were corroborated by interviews conducted by officials from UNRWA, the UN agency for Palestinian refugees.

The agency interviewed hundreds of returning detainees who reported widespread abuse at Sde Teiman and other Israeli detention facilities, including beatings and the use of an electric probe.

Broken Ribs

An Israeli soldier who served at Sde Teiman disclosed to the NYT that his fellow soldiers often bragged about beating detainees, and he observed signs of such treatment. 

“Speaking on condition of anonymity to avoid prosecution, he said a detainee had been taken for treatment at the site’s makeshift field hospital with a bone that had been broken during his detention, while another was briefly taken out of sight and returned with bleeding around his rib cage,” the report indicated.

“The soldier said that one person had died at Sde Teiman from trauma injuries to his chest, though it was unclear whether his injury was sustained before or after reaching the base,” it added.

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“Of the 4,000 detainees housed at Sde Teiman since October, 25 have died either at the site of ater being brought to nearby civilian hospitals,” the NYT reported, citing officers at the base. 

‘Disco Room’

Detainees told the NYT that a few days after their arrival, they were broug to a “separate enclosure that the detainees called the ‘disco room’ — because, they said, they were forced to listen to extremely loud music that prevented them from sleeping.”

Bakr, one of the detainees interviewed, “considered it a form of torture, saying it was so painful that blood began to trickle from inside his ear,” the report added.

Bakr’s personal belongings, including a phone and $2,000 were robbed by Israeli soldiers. 

In recent weeks, the base has come under increased scrutiny from the media, including a CNN report later referenced by the White House, as well as from the Israeli Supreme Court, which began hearing a petition from rights groups on Wednesday to close the site.

Many detainees reported being interrogated, physically assaulted, punched, and kicked while still in Gaza, with some stating they were struck with rifle butts.

(The Palestine Chronicle)

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