‘Worse than Abu Ghraib’ – This is How Israel Tortures Its Palestinian Hostages

Dr. Muhammad Abu Salmiya after being released from Israeli prisons. (Photo: via social media)

By Robert Inlakesh

In what Ronen Bar, the head of Israel’s Shin Bet internal security services, labeled as an “incarceration crisis”, Israeli prisons and detention centers collectively hold 21,000 Palestinian hostages. 

These prisoners have been subjected to a range of torture methods, with one of the detention facilities being branded worse than Abu Ghraib. 

In a move that stirred controversy in the Israeli political establishment, the Director of al-Shifa Hospital, Dr. Muhammad Abu Salmiya, was released from detention after being held without charges for months. 

Upon his release, Dr. Salmiya spoke to the media about the horrifying reality facing detainees, noting that “prisoners in Israeli jails endure different types of torture.

The army treats them as if they were inanimate objects, and Israeli doctors physically assaulted us.” He also stated that no International organizations were permitted to visit inmates, nor were they allowed access to lawyers, while the Palestinian prisoners were subjected to “severe torture and almost daily assaults inside the prisons and were denied medical treatments”.

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One of the sites where Dr Salmiya was held is the infamous Sde Teiman detention facility, a military prison center created to detain Palestinians who were kidnapped from Gaza without any charge. 

According to Palestinian Lawyer, Khaled Mahajneh, who recently gave a first-hand account of the conditions faced in the detention camp after being granted a visit, “the treatment is more horrifying than anything we have heard about Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo”. 

Mahajneh said that some 4,000 detainees from Gaza, who began calling Sde Teiman a “death camp” after at least 35 detainees died under “unknown circumstances”, were blindfolded and shackled constantly, forced to sleep hunched over on the floor. 

A weekly one-minute shower was the only time the shackles were released, which the inmates started refusing because going over one minute resulted in punishment and they were not given a watch, or timer, and “going beyond the allotted minute exposes prisoners to severe punishments, including hours outside in the heat or rain”. Accounts of severe torture, including rape, were also noted.

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Reports published by CNN, The New York Times, and UNRWA have all attested to severe forms of sexual assault and rape occurring at Sde Teiman. 

This included the rape of men with electrocuted and burning metal rods, in addition to reports of the use of dogs to rape inmates, one man was reported to have been raped with a metal rod and then left to slowly die from his severe wounds that became infected. 

Women were also subjected to sexual violence, a 34-year-old woman testified to the UN that “a male soldier took off our hijabs, and they pinched us and touched our bodies, including our breasts.” 

On top of this, there was the implementation of sleep deprivation, starvation, and the use of sounds to torture inmates, while Haaretz newspaper revealed that Palestinian detainees were regularly having their limbs amputated after circulation was cut off due to tying them up too tight. 

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While most of the media attention has been placed upon the Sde Teiman detention camp, there are at least 21,000 Palestinians being held hostage by the Israeli regime, across facilities that are only built to handle 14,500 prisoners. In late November, Palestinian journalist, Baraah Abo Ramouz, who had just been freed in a prisoner exchange commented on the conditions female prisoners were subjected to, stating the following: 

“The situation in the prisons is devastating. The prisoners are abused. They are being constantly beaten. They’re being sexually assaulted. They are being raped. I’m not exaggerating. The prisoners are being raped.”

Due to newly imposed measures, since Israeli Security Minister, Itamar Ben Gvir, was given power over the conditions of prisoners, almost all of the basic rights that international law dictates be available to detainees are being deprived of them. 

In most cases, this includes the rights to food, clean, water, family visits, bedding etc. Palestinian prisoners, most of which are held without a charge are routinely beaten, suffer from medical neglect, repeatedly interrogated without a lawyer present, starved, spat on, verbally abused and kept in solitary confinement conditions.

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Torture methods such as stress positions, the use of a chair with smaller legs at the front, which prisoners are bound to, and where they are forced to defecate on themselves, have long been routine and are being weaponized today more than ever. Even before October 7, reports had emerged that prisoners were being used to perform hard labor, tantamount to a form of slavery.

Palestinian detainees are being interrogated under conditions of torture and threats to their families’ lives. Cases of this occurred against prisoners who were taken captive by the Israeli military, who were forced to confess to committing acts they could not possibly have performed on October 7, which were then paraded around as proof of Hamas atrocities, despite some of these individuals being proven not to be Hamas members.

It suffices to say that over 21,000 Palestinian hostages are being tortured, starved and sexually abused on a mass scale in clear violation of International Law. This is not even including those were were previously detained by the Israeli military inside the Gaza Strip, where a UN report released on June 12 detailed the fact that Israeli forces had “systematically targeted and subjected Palestinians to SGBV (Sexual and Gender-Based Violence) online and in person since October 7, including forced public nudity, forced public stripping, sexualized torture and abuse, and sexual humiliation and harassment.” 

In this report, it covers various cases of sexual violence and even rape, yet it specifically focuses on crimes committed against Palestinians during their detention by Israeli forces. 

(The Palestine Chronicle)

– Robert Inlakesh is a journalist, writer, and documentary filmmaker. He focuses on the Middle East, specializing in Palestine. He contributed this article to The Palestine Chronicle.

(The Palestine Chronicle is a registered 501(c)3 organization, thus, all donations are tax deductible.)
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