UN Report: Sexual harassment, torture, and humiliation that exceeded limits...ugly accounts and testimonies of the crimes committed by the Israeli army against Gaza prisoners

Horrific violations, represented by physical torture and sexual violations against women and children, were documented by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) in a comprehensive report that presented testimonies of male and female detainees from the Gaza Strip.

UNRWA said that it obtained the certificates, based on data it collected, independently and voluntarily, from Palestinians released through the Kerem Shalom crossing separating the Gaza Strip from the territories occupied in 1948, and it included details about the men, women, children, and employees who were released successively.

The report presents information documented by UNRWA, between November 2023 and December 2023, when reports began to appear about the occupation arresting Palestinians in northern Gaza, including the international organization’s centers. UNRWA released the report on Tuesday, April 16, 2024.

Development of arrest cases

UNRWA explained that it documented cases of mass arrest, ill-treatment and forced disappearance of thousands of Palestinians, including men, boys, women and girls, in December 2023.

In addition to northern Gaza, reports confirmed the continuation of arrests in the central region of Gaza, starting in December 2023, and in Khan Yunis, in the south of the Strip, starting in January 2024, indicating that residents were detained from their homes, work areas, medical facilities, and other facilities. .

As of April 4, 2024, UNRWA recorded the release of 1,506 detainees from Gaza through the Kerem Shalom crossing, including 43 children, including 39 boys and 4 girls, in addition to 84 women.

Among the detainees (released), according to UNRWA: 16 family members of the agency’s employees, and 326 workers from Gaza working inside the Green Line (the territories occupied since 1948), and it also documented the release of 23 of its employees who had been arrested by the occupation authorities.

Isolated from the world

UNRWA quoted the detainees as saying that they were transferred via trucks to temporary military barracks, isolated from the outside world, and containing between 100-120 people, where they are held in isolation from the outside world for periods that sometimes reach several weeks.

According to the testimonies of the detainees, they were detained in military barracks located in Zikim, where there is an “Israeli” military base, and others were detained in locations around the city of Beersheba, including the “Sde Teman” base.

According to testimonies, the detainees were sent for interrogation several times, including final interviews with the Israeli Shin Bet.

The women whose testimonies were documented by UNRWA reported that they were taken to the “Anatot” camp in occupied Jerusalem, and the “Damon” prison in the city of Haifa in the north of occupied Palestine, in addition to reports of the existence of detention centers in Ashkelon in the south, and Ofer prison in the occupied West Bank, Al-Jalama prison is in northern Palestine, in addition to a detention center in the city of Jerusalem.

The released detainees revealed in their testimonies that they had been subjected to abuse, incidents of torture, and violations that threatened their dignity and basic rights, including men, women, children, the elderly, and people with disabilities, who were subjected to various forms of ill-treatment, including beatings, threats, and insults.

Direct testimonies received and transmitted by the agency indicated that the detainees were beaten while forced to lie on a hard floor, with plastic restrictions restricting their movement, without providing food, water, or the ability to visit toilets, in addition to exposing them to cold and humidity, with the use of various cruel methods such as death threats. And brutally assaulted.

The detainees said that all personal items in their possession were confiscated during the detention period, without being returned after their release.

These methods of ill-treatment caused serious injuries to some detainees, including broken bones and cut wounds, and the harsh installation of chains and handcuffs that caused bodily harm.

Among the horrific testimonies received by UNRWA was the testimony of a 40-year-old detainee who witnessed the torture of the elderly and people with disabilities.

He said: “I saw people from detention who were 70 years old, much older. There were people with Alzheimer’s disease, others who were blind, people with disabilities who could not walk, people who had splinters in their backs and could not stand, people who suffered from epilepsy... and the torture was “For everyone, even for people who didn’t know their names, we told them there was a blind person and they didn’t care.”

Horrific torture

Another detainee, 26 years old, said in his testimony: “They were beating me with an extendable metal rod. My pants were stained with blood, and when they saw it, they beat me there. They used a nail gun on my knees. These nails remained in my knees for about 24 hours, until I was transferred to the Negev prison.” .

In another case, a detainee (34 years old) reported that she was threatened that her house would be bombed and her family members would be killed if she did not provide the required information.

“The Shin Bet showed me my entire neighborhood on the computer screen and asked me to tell them about all the people they pointed out — who is this, who is that, etc., and if I didn’t recognize someone, the female soldier would threaten to bomb my house,” she said.

The testimonies also included details about detainees being forced to sit on their knees for long hours without rest, being held in cages, being attacked by dogs, and being threatened with injury or death if they did not provide the requested information.

Sexual violations

The testimonies documented sexual violations that affected men, children, and women alike, as the “Israeli” occupation army forced males, including children, to take off their underwear, while the agency documented at least one occasion in which males who took refuge in an UNRWA facility were forced to take off their clothes. They were detained while naked.

Both men and women reported being exposed to threats and incidents that may amount to sexual violence and harassment from the Israeli occupation army during detention, as UNRWA confirmed in its report.

Male victims reported being beaten on their genitals, while one detainee reported being forced to sit on an electric nail.

A 41-year-old detainee said: “They forced me to sit on something that looked like a hot metal stick, and it felt like fire - I have burns in my anus.”

He continued: “The soldiers hit me on the chest with their shoes, and used something that looked like a metal stick with a small nail on the side. They asked us to drink from the toilet, and forced the dogs to attack us.”

The witness spoke about the death of one person under torture, and said: “There were people who were arrested and killed - perhaps nine. (One of them died after they put the electric stick in the anus.) He became very ill, we saw worms coming out of his body, and then he died.”

Sexual harassment

As for women, they confirmed - according to the report - that they were subjected to psychological abuse and sexual harassment, which included insults, threats, and inappropriate searches for the purpose of harassment. They were forced to take off their clothes in front of soldiers during searches and were photographed while they were naked.

A 34-year-old detainee, whose testimony was documented by UNRWA, said: They asked the soldiers to spit on me, saying: “She is a prostitute, she is from Gaza.”

She continued: “They beat us as we moved and said that they would put pepper on our sensitive parts (referring to the genitals), and they dragged us, beat us, and took us by bus to Damoun prison after five days.”

The Palestinian woman added in her testimony: “A soldier took our hijab, pinched us, and touched our bodies, including our chests. We were blindfolded, feeling them touching us, and pushing our heads onto the bus. “We started clinging to each other to try to protect ourselves from being touched.” “Whore, whore,” they said. “They ordered the soldiers to take off their shoes and slap our faces with them.”

Extracting forced confessions from agency employees

UNRWA documented testimonies of its employees about their exposure to arrest at the hands of the “Israeli” army, while carrying out their official job duties at the UN agency, and during coordinated humanitarian operations.

According to the testimonies reported, UNRWA employees who were arrested by the occupation were held in isolation from the outside world and subjected to conditions similar to the ill-treatment to which other detainees were subjected.

UNRWA employees reported that they were subjected to threats and coercion while in detention, and that they were pressured during interrogation sessions to make coercive statements against the agency, including alleging ties with Hamas and participating in attacks against the occupying entity on October 7.

Violations against employees included ill-treatment, assaults, violent physical beatings, and simulated drowning, which led to serious physical injuries, in addition to their exposure to psychological, verbal, and sexual torture, and threats to kill or mutilate them and their family members.

UNRWA said that it had submitted official protests to the “Israeli” authorities regarding these reports of ill-treatment to which the agency’s employees were subjected during their detention in Israeli detention centers, but it had not received any reactions to these protests so far.



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