Mr. Leo Kohtala, Finnish member of the Commission, opening the second session
Published by the Information Centre of the World Peace Council
Lönnrotinkatu 25 A 5 krs 00180 Helsinki 18 Finland
Tel: 644 280, 646 140 Telex: 12-1680
P.O. Box 18114 Cables: WORLDPAX
published undated, but probably
1975 or 1976
The Table of Contents can be found at the end
of this document and also by clicking the section headings.
The International Commission of Inquiry into Israeli Violations of Human Rights in the Occupied Arab Territories, sponsored by the World Peace Council, held its second session in Helsinki, Finland, May 19-21, 1975.
The Commission was presided over by Mr. Romesh Chandra, Secretary General of the World Peace Council, and the following members took part in the work of its second session:
1. Mr. Leo Kohtala, MP, Social Democratic Party, Finland.
2. Mr. Jean Offredo, Journalist, France.
3. Mr. R. Bhatia, MP, Indian National Congress Party, India.
4. Mr. A. Zanini, MP, Christian Democratic Party, Italy.
5. Mr. A.K. Orlov, Vice-President of the Soviet Association of Lawyers and Chairman of the Supreme Court of the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic, USSR.
6. Mr. V.A. Kartashkin, expert on international law and researcher on problems of human rights, USSR.
The Hon. A.B.M. Kamara, Sierra Leone Minister of Information and Broadcasting, who is also a member of the Commission, was unable to attend due to unforeseen governmental duties.
Representatives of political parties, Members of Parliament and other leaders of public organisations in Finland attended the session as observers.
Another observer was Mr. Mohammed Elias, Vice-President of the All-India Trade Union Congress.
The Commission conducted all its proceedings in public. Representatives of Finnish and foreign mass media were present throughout, as well as a large Finnish audience interested in the problem.
The session was opened by Mr. Leo Kohtala, the Finnish member of the Commission, who said in his address:
"It is unbelievable, but nevertheless true, that those very people whose human rights the Nazis violated during the Second World War with such incredible cruelty are themselves now forgetful of their immeasurable sufferings. The sufferings of the Palestinian people in the occupied Arab territories already exceed the cruelty and anguish which the Jewish people themselves suffered under Nazi barbarity. Human rights, and that includes those of the Palestinian Arab people, are an important and central part of the United Nations Charter, according to which we are all equal whatever our nationality. That is why we should feel responsible for the Palestinian people and their human rights. If some state, like Israel now, does not feel this responsibility, it is our international duty to cooperate to make Israel recognise it and give up its violations of human rights in the occupied Arab territories."
In his opening remarks, the Chairman outlined the aim of the Commission, saying:
"It is sometimes asked why there is any need for a non-governmental commission to investigate Israeli violations of human rights in the occupied Arab territories, when the United Nations has established its own commission which continues to report annually to the UN General Assembly. Such a commission is necessary because, in the first place, the results of the UN Commission have remained very largely unknown to the peoples of the world. The information the UN Commission has so ably prepared needs to be supplemented and brought up to date with facts based on the evidence of new witnesses, new victims of these violations of human rights. Furthermore, it is important for a non-governmental public movement to examine the actual evidence, because a movement such as the World Peace Council aims not only to make known the results of its inquiries, but also to bring the force of public opinion to bear to help stop these violations. Consequently, our work supplements that of the UN. It is not in any sense in opposition to the UN, but takes the work of the UN further. We look upon our work as very closely related to that of the UN. I may say that all our work in this Commission is also being done with a view to informing the UN and the governments of the World of our findings."
The Commission noted with satisfaction the impact of the work of its first session held in Beirut in December, 1974. The report of that first session which has been widely distributed and publicised all over the world has played a valuable role in mobilising public opinion in many countries to demand an end to the violation of human rights in the occupied Arab territories.
During the second session, the Commission investigated the following violations of human rights in the occupied Arab territories:
1. Laws applied in the occupied territories;
2. Judicial persecution;
3. Extrajudicial reprisals;
4. Mass arrest and collective punishment;
5. Use of torture on prisoners and detainees;
6. Repression of women;
7. Expulsion and deportation;
8. Annexation of Arab Jerusalem and land requisition; and
9. Cultural and intellectual repression.
The Commission scrutinised an extensive body of evidence concerning Israeli violations of human rights in the occupied Arab territories, particularly during the past few months. Witnesses were heard from Israel itselfprominent and courageous Israeli lawyers and leading figures active in the defence of citizens in the occupied territories victimised by the Israeli authorities. These witnesses included Mr. Mordechay Avi-Shaul, well-known writer and poet and Vice-President of the Israeli League for Human and Civil Rights, and lawyers Mrs. Felicia Langer and Mr. Hanna Naqqara. They presented extensive and valuable evidence on the arrest, administrative detention, torture and extrajudicial murder of citizens in the occupied territories and other forms of reprisal inflicted on them. They also presented evidence on collective punishment, land requisition, confiscation of property and the wide-spread repression of women by the Israeii occupation authorities.
The Commission also heard witnesses from the occupied Arab territoriesprominent political leaders and intellectualsvery recentiy expelled after months of imprisonment and torture, inciuding Dr. Mustapha Melhem, Deputy-Mayor of Halhoul, Mr. Sulaiman Al-Najjab, a political leader, and Mr. Mahmoud Shuqair, a well-known writer and intellectual, all three from the West Bank. In addition it studied reports, documents, tape-recordings, medical certificates and other evidence which was of great value in reaching its conclusions.
Throughout its work, the Commission was motivated by its profound attachment to respect for human rights, fundamental freedoms and the dignity of man.
The Chairman underlined the Commission's approach at the outset, by saying, "We are a Commission which seeks to establish the facts. We seek to examine each piece of evidence, to weigh it and judge its value with full impartiality. We are not biased against anyone, against any government, but we are in favour of human rights, and that is the basis of our work."
The Commission ascertained beyond any doubt that in the occupied territories the Israeli Government is flagrantly violating the Geneva Convention Relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War (August 12, 1949) to which Israel is a signatory.
Despite the fact that the said Convention prohibits an occupying power from introducing laws into an occupied territory which have not been part of the legal system before occupation, the Israeli Government has introduced and is applying in the occupied territories the Defence (Emergency) Regulations of 1945, inherited from British mandatory rule over Palestine. Mrs. Felicia Langer and Mr. Hanna Naqqara presented evidence to the Commission to the effect that these Regulations have never been part of the legal code in the occupied territories.
The Commission received a detailed report on the provisions of the Regulations from Mr. Mordechay Avi-Shaul which proved beyond a doubt that the Regulations are totally despotic. They grant the Israeli Defence Minister or his representativesthe Military Governorsunlimited powers of detention without trial, confiscation of property, deportation, restriction of movement, demolition of houses, collective punishment and similar repression.
The Commission was informed by Mr. Hanna Naqqara that the Israeli Knesset (Parliament) passed a unanimous resolution in 1951 forbidding the application of these Regulations to the Jews in Israel because "they are contrary to all principles of elementary democracy." However, the Israeli Government is applying these same Regulations to the inhabitants of the occupied Arab territories, without any compunction whatsoever.
Mr. Avi-Shaul presented the Commission with a detailed study concerning the manner in which the Regulations violate the Geneva Convention. The following are just a few examples:
1. Article 33 of the Geneva Convention says: "No protected person may be punished for an offence he or she has not personally committed." It also states that: "Collective penalties and, likewise, all measures of intimidation or of terrorism are prohibited."
Under the Emergency Regulations, the Israeli occupation authorities mete out collective punishment to whole towns, villages, communities and families for offences committed by an individual or individuals. Examples of such punishment are cited, such as imposition of month-long curfews on towns and villages (including Beit Sahour, Ramallah, Hebron area, etc.), the demolition of houses19,000 houses have been demolished, as well as several whole villages and refugee camps in the West Bank and Gaza, plus all the houses on the Golan Heights.
2. Article 49 of the Geneva Convention states: "Individual or mass forcible transfers as well as deportation of persons from an occupied territory to a territory of the occupying power or that of any other country, occupied or not, are prohibited, regardless of their motive."
Under the Emergency Regulations, the Israeli occupation authorities have deported 1,600 prominent Palestinians from the West Bank and the Gaza Strip to neighbouring Arab countries. Thirty thousand refugees have also been forcibly expelled to the East Bank of Jordan, along with the whole 8,000-strong, Arab An-Nussairat Bedouin tribe. Under these same Regulations, Israeli Jewish citizens are allowed to settle in various parts of the occupied territories. Jewish settlements have already been established in some areas of the occupied territories and Arab Jerusalem has been officially annexed.
Mrs. Felicia Langer informed the Commission that in addition to the Emergency Regulations, the occupation authorities have introduced and are applying in the occupied territories an Order Relative to Public Security, dated 1970 (Code: Occupied Territories).
The Order is intended to back up and supplement the Regulations. One of its provisions, Mrs. Langer pointed out, deals with what is called the "prevention of crime," requiring the inhabitants of the occupied territoriesunder the threat of imprisonment, heavy fines or bothto report to the authorities any information they may posses on past offences or on any person's intention to commit an offence. Mrs. Langer informed the Commission of cases where she had acted as legal counsel to fathers, mothers and wives standing trial because the authorities accused them of failing to report offences committed, or intention to commit offences, by their sons or husbands.
The Commission concluded that the aim of such provisions is to tighten the grip of the Israeli authorities on the occupied territories and to turn the inhabitants into quislings and informers.
Mrs. Felicia Langer, Israeli attorney
Mrs. Langer also informed the Commission that the Israeli authorities have introduced what can be called "extraterritorial justice" through this order.
Under this concept, inhabitants of the occupied territories can be punished for committing acts outside Israel or the occupied territories which Israel considers criminal or punishable, i.e. association with members of unlawful organisations, the carrying of arms (even if this is done in a country where it is lawful), training in the use of arms, etc.
The information provided to the Commission and the expert testimonies given by Mr. Mordechay Avi-Shaul, Mrs. Felicia Langer and Mr. Hanna Naqqara, led the Commission to conclude that the Israeli authorities have established a rule of institutionalised terror in the occupied territories based on the unlawful 1945 Emergency Regulations and the 1970 Order Relative to Public Security, both of which constitute a flagrant violation of the Geneva Convention Relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War (August 12, 1949).
In 1972 an amendment was introduced to the Israeli Penal Code which states:
"The Courts of the State of Israel are competent to try, in accordance with Israeli law, anyone who commits an offence outside the territory of the State, as if the offence had been committed in Israel; or whoever commits an act which harms or is intended to harm the State of Israel, its security, its property or its communications . . . " (Translation from HebrewEditor).
The Commission was informed that such a law is unique. It applies to nationals of all countries for whatever acts they commit anywhere in the world, regardless of the legality of such acts in the country concerned, as long as Israel considers them directed against its own interests. The Commission was further informed that in pursuance of this law the Israeli Army kidnapped 10 young men in 1972Palestinians, Syrians, Lebanese and Iraqisfrom southern Lebanon and had them tried before a military court on charges of being members of an unlawful organisation, of being in possession of arms and of conducting training in their use (all three perfectly lawful activities in Lebanon). All 10 were given heavy prison sentences and fines.
Information provided to the Commission proves conclusively that the principles of fair trial are being systematically violated by the Israeli authorities in the occupied territories. All court procedural rules are being disregarded and the sacred right of defence is not guaranteed.
It was established before the Commission that political trials are conducted only before military courts appointed by the Israeli military authorities. These courts are of two types. The first is a single judge court with limited sentencing jurisdiction (maximum of five years' imprisonment). It is a one-instance court, with no second instance existing. The second type is a three-judge court with unlimited sentencing jurisdiction (up to and including the death sentence).
These courts are not bound by any rules of procedure, these being left to the judges. Mrs. Felicia Langer and Mr. Hanna Naqqara stated to the Commission that in their professional opinion as lawyers the procedure followed by these courts was without exception weighted against the accused. No witnesses other than police or security officers are ever called. No evidence is presented, except for confessions extracted from the accused under torture. Naturally enough, such confessions are presented as having been given voluntarily without the use of torture or police intimidation. Any challenge presented by lawyers on the validity of such confessions or material evidence that intimidation or torture has taken place is brushed aside by the courts.
Mr. Hanna Naqqara described a typical trial to the Commission:
A security officer is called to testify before the Court. His evidence always runs as follows: "The accused was brought before me and I accused him of being a member of the Palestine Liberation Organisation. He made the following statement voluntarily and freely. I informed him of the consequences and that his statement might be used against him later in Court, but nevertheless, he made the statement. After he finished it, I read it out to him. He then approved it and signed it. I have his statement here."
The lawyer then cross-examines the officer as to the circumstances of obtaining the confession, trying to prove conclusively before the court that it was obtained as a result of torture, intimidation, etc. But the Court always decides, without exception, that the confession was indeed taken freely and voluntarily.
Mrs. Felicia Langer informed the Commission of many disturbing instances where the disqualification of patently biased judges was refused. Some judges insult the accused and the defence counsel and express racialist anti-Arab opinions, yet, are still not disqualified.
Both Mrs. Felicia Langer and Mr. Naqqara informed the Commission of instances where the defence counsel and the accused had been extremely restricted in exercising the sacred right of defence. Lawyers are restricted in the presentation of their evidence and are prevented from referring to international covenants and conventions or UN resolutions. In many instances, they are forbidden to refer to the political issues relevant to the cases being tried at the time.
The decisions of the Courts are based exclusively on confessions extracted by torture and other such methods. The right of appeal is denied. Judgements can only be challenged by petitioning the Military Governor who appointed the court in the first place, leaving it free to decide on the rules of procedure.
The Commission was told by the two Israeli lawyers that one of the most serious setbacks to the defence is the concealment by the police of the accused. In many cases, lawyers are allowed to meet their clients only after obtaining a court order for habeus corpus.
The Commission examined a mass of evidence on all types of extrajudicial reprisals practised by the Israeli occupation authoritiesarrests for "preventive reasons" (administrative detention), mass arrests, collective punishment, death by torture, deportation, etc.
The evidence put before the Commission indicates that the Israeli occupation authorities have used and are using arbitrary and repressive measures to perpetuate their occupation of the Arab territories, to expel the inhabitants and prevent the Palestinian Arab people from exercising their right to self-determination. The evidence further points to the intention of the Israeli authorities to completely uproot and disperse the Palestinian people from their homeland.
The Commission was informed that in their determination to stamp out opposition to occupation, the Israeli authorities have been applying a number of measures:
1. Administrative Detention: This type of imprisonment is provided for by the Emergency Regulations (Section 111) and the Order Relative to Public Security (Section 61). Both state that a person can be administratively detained, without charge or without trial, if the Minister of Defence or his representatives think that such an act is necessary for "securing the public safety, the defence of Israel, the maintenance of public order or the suppression of mutiny, rebellion or riot." This all-embracing statement means that anyone can be imprisoned at will.
The Commission was informed that people can be detained initially for a maximum period of a year which can be (and is in fact) renewed for periods of six months at a time without any limitation on the number of renewals. The detainee can appeal to an Advisory Committee composed of three military officers. The opinion of the Committee is purely advisory and in no way binding on the military authorities. The Committee hears the detainee and his lawyer and then deliberates in camera. Only security officers are allowed to attend the deliberations and present reports and the opinions of the security authorities on the grounds for detention. The detainee and his lawyer are never informed of the Committee's recommendation, as it only communicates with the Commanding General Officer.
Almost 11,000 Palestinians have been held in administrative detention since the beginning of the occupation in 1967. A report in the semi-official Israeli daily Ma'ariv, presented to the Commission, stated that in the city of Gaza alone, 40 people are arrested every month to ensure the maintenance of public order. Administrative detention is also applied on a mass scale against public figures, intellectuals, trade unionists, politicians and all those politically active in any way, both men and women. It is a weapon in the hands of the Israeli authorities to stamp out unwanted political activity. In April 1974, administrative detention was used against 390 leading figures who were charged with belonging to the Palestinian National Front in the Occupied Territories (part of the PLO) and the Communist Party.
It was further pointed out that although administrative detainees are held for political reasons, they receive no special treatment. They are held in ordinary prisons along with hardened common criminals. In many cases, the police have incited the common criminals to pick on the political prisoners, beating them up and assaulting them. Many instances were reported to the Commission of detainees who had been seriously injured as a result of attacks by their fellow-prisoners.
Administrative detainees, the Commission was told, are continously tortured and interrogated by the authorities, although they are not held on any specific charges. On many occasions, detainees have declared hunger strikes demanding to be charged and tried, or else released.
2. Collective Punishment: Evidence presented to the Commission indicates that since the beginning of Israeli occupation, collective punishment has been widely practised. It takes the form notably of blowing up houses, the imposition of curfews, mass expulsion and mass arrest.
The principle of blowing up houses as a means of collective punishment was asserted by the then Israeli Minister of Defence, Moshe Dayan, at the beginning of the occupation. Dayan was once asked in Parliament if the blowing up of houses was in accordance with the principle of collective responsibility of the whole family for one of its members. His answer was "Yes." Houses are blown up when any member of the family is arrested on suspicion of committing a crimeeven before he is charged, let alone sentenced. In many cases, the house in question does not actually belong to the accused, moreover it shelters all the members of his family and others. On the arrest of the suspect, the family is given a time limit to evacuate the house, usually two to three hours. Cases were quoted where the time for the people to move out was no more than half an hour. In one instance, in the Latrun area, the time limit was so tight that three old women failed to leave their houses in time and were blown up with them.
Statistics available indicate, as already mentioned, that 19,000 houses have been blown up and a number of villages razed to the ground in reprisal for acts committed by individuals (e.g. the villages of Amwas, Yalo, Beit Nuba and Beit Awa).
Speaking before the Commission, Mr. Mordechay Avi-Shaul described collective punishment in the following terms:
This cruel punishment is inflicted above all on people who are innocent and who have no connection whatsoever with the crime committedthe families. The attitude of the authorities towards these families testifies to their innocence in that they are neither arrested nor charged. It must also be said that most of those punished in this way are incapable of committing any crimechildren, babies, the sick, the old, etc. These poor people are literally thrown out onto the street, as no alternative housing is provided. Furthermore, not only is this type of punishment carried out for no logical reason, but also in cold blood while the accused is in custody.
The Commission was told that in addition to being a form of collective punishment, the blowing up of houses has yet another objectivethe "thinning out" of the Arab population. The victims are made homeless and are driven out of the area, thus leaving ample space for the construction of new Israeli settlements.
Another form of collective punishment has been the imposition of long curfews on whole villages, towns, cities and communities. During such curfews, the inhabitants are allowed to leave their homes for only a few hours a day for shopping. Such periods of restriction can last for up to three months. Places affected by such measures have included the village of Beit Sahour, near Bethlehem, the Shati' Refugee Camp in Gaza (which was placed under a 24-hour curfew imposed by the military authorities for four consecutive weeks), the city of Gaza itself, Nablus, Dura, Ramallah, Beirah, Beir Zeit, Salfit and other localities. Gaza was under curfew for about six months in 1970, and Nablus was under a dusk-to-dawn curfew for a long period.
This form of collective punishment is often meted out in reply to non-violent resistance, such as peaceful demonstrations and strikes.
The establishment of concentration camps for the families of "wanted persons" also falls under the heading of collective punishment. The Israeli League for Human and Civil Rights reports that such a camp exists in the Sinai Desert where women and children, whose only "crime" is to be related to certain "wanted" individuals, are being held. The League adds that the existence of such camps is not denied by the authorities; even the Hebrew service of Israeli radio has reported on them.
Another shocking instance of collective punishment has been the destruction of crops in retaliation for resistance. The Commission was told that the Israeli government admitted in Parliament that Arab crops had been deliberately destroyed by chemical spraying on the orders of the military authorities in the occupied territories. The best known case is the village of Akraba, near Nablus, where 1,250 acres of crops were destroyed in this way.
3. Deportation: Deportation is used widely by the Israeli authorities as a method of depriving the Palestinian people of leadership and dispersing them. Political leaders, mayors, intellectuals, school teachers, trade unionists, writers, journalists and activists capable of providing leadership to the struggle of the Palestinian people are the main targets of this practice. More than 1,600 prominent people and activists have been deported in this way. They include the Mayor of Arab Jerusalem, Mr. Ruhi Al-Khatib; the Mayor of Al-Beirah, Mr. Abdul Jawwad Saleh; the Deputy-Mayor of Halhoul, Dr. Mustapha Melhem; prominent political figures such as Arabi Awwad, Sulaiman Al-Najjab, Dr. Walid Qamhawi, Abdul Mohsen Abu Meizer: Mahmoud Shuqair and Ali Al-Khatib (journalists); Shaker Abdu Hijlah and Dr. Hanna M. Nasser (educationalists); Husni Haddad, Abdul Razzak Oudeh and Azzam Abdul Haq (engineers); Dr. Alfred Toubasi (dentist), Damin Hussein Oudeh (trade unionist), and many, many others.
The Commission was told that the number of deportations was noticeably stepped up after the 29th General Assembly of the United Nations adopted its resolution No. 3236 in support of the inalienable national rights of the Palestinian Arab people. Scores of prominent figures and community leaders in the West Bank were immediately deported to Lebanon after adoption of the resolution.
Another method used is the mass expulsion of the inhabitants of refugee camps or villages, or deportation of whole Bedouin tribes and the expropriation of their lands.
Twenty-two thousand Palestinians have been expelled from the Gaza Strip to East Jordan. The 8,000-strong Arab An-Nussairat Bedouin tribe was similarly expelled from the occupied territories to East Jordan. The Commission also received reports indicating that the occupation authorities have put a plan into effect for the elimination of the Bedouin population in the southern Gaza Strip. This involves evacuation of all the tribes in the area, destruction of their pastures, sealing of their water sources and wells and fencing of their land. Among the victims of this plan was a tribe of 4,800, forcibly evicted from its lands in Rafah.
All those individually deported or collectively expelled are forbidden to re-enter the occupied territories and are condemned to live in exile in other countries as long as occupation lasts.
Deportation is usually carried out in the dead of night without prior warning. Mr. Sulaiman Al-Najjab and Mr. Mahmoud Shuqair, both of whom were deported to Lebanon, told the Commission that they were driven by night from the prison straight to the Lebanese border without being told where they were going. They are read a deportation order at the border and left to proceed into Lebanon on foot. They had to walk for two hours before they caught sight of the first Lebanese village, worried all the time lest they should be mistaken for Israeli infiltrators and shot on sight.
The Deputy-Mayor of Halhoul, Dr. Mustapha Melhem, also recounted how be had been deported in 1974:
It was midnight. I was asleep with my wife and our four small children. The doorbell rang and a voice that I recognised as being that of the Military Governor's interpreter asked me to open up. This I did, and several officers and soldiers burst in and ordered me to dress and accompany them to the Military Governor.
I left with some of them while others remained behind in the house. My wife was afraid of being left alone with them, so I asked if the neighbour's wife could be asked to come, but they categorically refused. They also cut my telephone line.
Outside, I saw that the house was surrounded by about 40 armed soldiers. I was then taken directly to the Military Governor's headquarters where I was blindfolded and handcuffed and ordered to get into another car without being told why I was there or what was going to happen to me.
After a six-hour drive, I found myself at the Lebanese border together with three others.
An Israeli officer officially informed us that we were being deported for security reasons on the orders of the Israeli Military Governor of the West Bank. From that point, they left us to proceed to Lebanon on foot. We walked for two and a half hours before we came to the first Lebanese village.
Mr. Hanna Naqqara testified before the Commission that deportation (which is carried out in accordance with the provisions of the Emergency Regulations), in addition to being a gross violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention, which prohibits deportation, is also a flagrant violation of international law and the sovereignty of the States to which the deportees are being sent. Israel, he continued, had no jurisdiction over Lebanon or Jordan, or any other country to which it is deporting Palestinians. Consequently it should cease its deportation policy forthwith.
Evidence presented to the Commission proves without doubt that highly sophisticated methods of physical and psychological torture are being used indiscriminately by the Israeli authorities. These methods include brutal beating, application of electric shocks, insertion of sharp objects into sexual organs, suspension from the ceiling, burning with cigarette butts on sensitive parts of the body, etc. (For detailed description of the torture methods used, please refer to the report of the Commission's first session entitled: Israeli Violation of Human Rights in the Occupied Arab Territories, published by the WPC Information Centre. 1975.) These and other methods are being used on those held in administrative detention for political reasons or for passive resistance, as well as those already tried and sentenced for resisting the occupation.
Torture is used to extract information from the victims, a practice explicitly prohibited by the Geneva Convention Relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War (August 12, 1949). The Geneva Convention states that: "No physical or moral coercion shall be exercised against protected persons, in particular to obtain information from them or from third parties."
1. Death as a Result of Torture
The Commission was informed that 25 torture victims are known to have died as a result and countless others have been paralysed, incurred brain damage or been permanently incapacitated.
Mr. Mordechay Avi-Shaul informed the Commission of two cases of death under torture which he had personally investigated on behalf of the Israeli League for Human and Civil Rights. One of the cases was that of 30-year-old Qassim Abu Aker of Beit Hanina, near Jerusalem, the father of two small children.
He was arrested on March 15, 1969, together with his wife, on suspicion of armed resistance. Eight days after his arrest he was transferred to the Jewish Sha'are'-Tsedek Hospital, but the physicians refused to admit him, as by that time he was dead. The body was then taken to the Pathology Department at the Anatomical Institute and then handed back to the family. His wife was released and ordered to bury her husband without delay. Only she, her father and the grave-diggers were allowed to witness the funeral.
The coroner who investigated the circumstances of Abu Aker's death ruled that he had died of kidney trouble while in Sha'are'-Tsedek Hospital, and closed the case. The Israeli press, however, quoted hospital officials as saying that Abu Aker was never admitted to the hospital as he was dead on arrival.
Mrs. Felicia Langer informed the Commission that in addition to those killed under torture and mentioned in the report of the Commission's first session, others have been killed in prison during the seven months preceding the second session. She supplied the following names to the Commission:
1. Omar Awadallah, from Gaza, who died in Ashkelon Prison as a result of beatings.
2. Ayet Safayha, from Sinai, 75 years old, who died as a result of torture.
3. Salem Abu Sittah, 21 years old, from Khan Yunis in the Gaza Strip, who died as a result of beating and brutal torture. Other prisoners reported seeing him bleeding badly from head wounds, yet still being beaten despite this.
4. Abu Zuheir, 15 years old, who died as a result of torture.
The Commission was also informed that El-Haj Ramadan Al-Banna of East Jerusalem had died in 1971 after three months of continuous torture in different Israeli prisons, but mostly at the Al-Maskobiyah interrogation centre.
The attention of the Commission was drawn to the fact that the lives of hundreds of Arab prisoners and detainees are in danger. The Israeli authorities are currently using the most sophisticated methods of torture and are holding prisoners in appalling conditions which compound their suffering and frequently accelerate their death.
2. Mental Derangement as a Result of Torture
A considerable number of cases of insanity caused by torture and instances of people becoming severely psychologically disturbed as a result of their treatment in prison were brought to the Commission's attention. Many of the victims are still in prison and receive no proper medical attention. Others have been released, but remain mentally deranged despite treatment. All the cases before the Commission were of people proven to be in good health before torture.
Mrs. Felicia Langer, who had acted as legal counsel for several such victims, presented many cases to the Commission. Details of one particular example are quoted here:
Abdel Mutaleb Abu Ramileh was arrested in East Jerusalem on March 8, 1969, on charges of being a member of an unlawful organisation and being in possession of arms. Before his arrest, he was perfectly healthy with no previous history of mental or physical illness. Seven months after his arrest and during his trial before the Lydda Military Court on October 14, 1969 (Case No. 24/69) the picture was totally different. A medical report submitted by Dr. Streich, Assistant Psychiatrist for the area and Head of the Mental Clinic at Petah-Tikva, said that Tamileh was incontinent, his ability to concentrate was severely impaired and he no longer knew where he was.
The Court decided that Ramileh was unfit to stand trial but, nevertheless, ruled that the Minister of Defence should order his detention for as long as he saw fit, in accordance with the Emergency Regulations of 1945 (Para. 46-b-2). The Court also ordered that Abu Ramileh should receive the necessary medical treatment during his detention.
Mrs. Langer met Abu Ramileh for the first time in Ramlah Prison on January 16, 1970. She described the meeting in the following words:
They literally dragged him to meet me. He could not walk and, for the first time in my life, I saw the painfully destructive effect of mental illness on a human being. His eyes were half closed and there was a permanent idiotic smile on his face. He shook involuntarily several times, as if he were cold, and mumbled incoherent phrases. He refused to sit, preferring to lie down on the bench. After a few minutes, he was asleep.
After a long struggle with the authorities, Mrs. langer managed to have him transferred to a mental institution. On June 26, 1970, Mrs. Langer visited him again and found his condition much improved. He appeared for trial later and recounted to the Court what he could remember of his torture. His evidence was corroborated by other witnesses, including medical doctors, fellow-prisoners and his wife. Abu Ramileh told the Court that the police had started beating him in front of his wife and children, at home, when they arrested him. They then took him to Al-Maskobiyah Prison where a red-shirted interrogator, called Haim, beat him all night with a truncheon. The next day, another interrogator, called Marcus, together with four others, took charge of him. Marcus beat him methodically on the head and gave him electric shock treatement. Haim inserted a bullet into his rectum, causing great pain. His testicles were crushed until he fainted and he was burned with cigarette butts on sensitive parts of his body. Doctors and fellow-prisoners all testified that Abu Ramileh was particularly disturbed by the colour red. Physicians at the mental hospital where he was treated said that on seeing the colour red be became hysterical and terrified. A psychiatrist warned that although Abu Ramileh had been treated, there was no guarantee that a relapse would not occur, particularly under stress. Despite this, Abu Ramileh was still sentenced to 10 years imprisonment.
Other people who have become insane as a result of torture include Mohammed Eid Thawabtah of Beit Fajjar, near Bethlehem, Ibrahim Kamouk, who was incarcerated in Ramlah Prison after being declared unfit to stand trial, and Dr. Ibrahim Abu Hilal, a dentist, kept in Acre Prison.
3. Minors under Torture
The Commission received evidence to the effect that hundreds of minors have been arrested, tortured and even sentenced to long terms of imprisonment by the Israeli authorities. Minors are incarcerated in normal prisons, together with adult prisoners, including hardened Israeli criminals. The following cases were reported to the Commission:
1. Samir Mustapha Falah, 14 years old, was accused in 1970 of failing to report the intention of certain people to commit an offence. He was sentenced to 30 months imprisonment.
2. Aitta Quimari, 15 years old when arrested in 1972, was accused of membership of an unlawful organisation and of being in possession of arms. He stated during his trial that he had been brutally torturedhe had been beaten with clubs, suspended from the ceiling, sharp objects had been inserted into his sexual organs, burning chemicals applied, and his testicles had been crushed. He was sentenced initially to 15 years imprisonment, later increased to life imprisonment after an appeal by the Military Prosecutor.
3. Bader Da'na, 16 years old, was described by his lawyer, Mrs. Felicia Langer, as a "child in men's clothing." He was arrested in 1968 and sentenced in 1970 on charges of membership of an unlawful organisation and using explosivesall of which he denied. He was brutally tortured, even after sentencing, and became mentally ill as a result. His sentence22 years.
4. Qassem Abdul Fattah Haddad, 16 years old, is currently being held in administrative detention. Oassem's hands were badly burned by napalm bombs in 1967 when an Israeli plane bombed a civilian car in which he, his parents and four brothers were travelling.
5. Issa Dendis was 14 years old when arrested on charges of aiding saboteurs. He spent a whole year in prison awaiting trial, during which time he was tortured. He was acquitted and released in 1970.
The Commission heard a mass of evidence to the effect that women in the occupied territories are the target of special brutality intended to demoralise them and, consequently, the whole population. In a society where the family remains closely-knit and where the woman occupies a special place as mother, wife and daughter, special efforts are made by the other members of the family to protect women from all forms of maltreatment, brutality and disrespect. The Israeli occupation authorities, aware of this fact, are particularly concentrating on the women, so as to demoralise the population as a whole, undermine their moral values and, consequently, bring them to their knees.
The Commission was told of numerous cases where women had been arrested, tortured and subjected to brutality. The Commission also heard of cases of pregnant women, women with small children and old women being arrested and tortured. It heard too of cases where sick women were denied medical treatment.
Mrs. Felicia Langer, who has acted as legal counsel for many women in the occupied territories, brought many instances of such persecution to the attention of the Commission, including the following:
Abla Taha, a young married teacher, was arrested in 1968 on suspicion of aiding the resistance and being in possession of explosives. She was pregnant when arrested. At Al-Maskobiyah Prison in Jerusalem she was brutally beaten on the head, face and body, besides being punched in the stomach, thus causing a haemorrhage. She was denied medical attention and was kept in a cell with six Israeli prostitutes. At police instigation, they attacked her, tore her clothes and left her completely naked. Later, she was placed in solitary confinement. There was no toilet and it was eight days before she was allowed to visit one. When she was brought to trial before the Military Court in Nablus, she was six months pregnant. She was sentenced to four years imprisonment.
Lutfiah Al-Hawari, a young woman from Al-Beirah, was arrested twicethe first time in 1968 and the second in 1969. The first time, she was held in Al-Maskobiyah Prison, where she was mercilessly beaten. She lost two teeth as a result of being punched in the face. She too was kept in a cell with Israeli prostitutes who assaulted her at police instigation and cut her hair off.
The second time, she was arrested with her fiance, Ahmed Dakhil Al-Jamal. She was first taken to Beit-Shemesh police station, which serves as an interrogation centre, then transferred to Nablus Prison. Two days after her arrest, her family's house in Al-Beirah was blown up. Lutfiah was told that she would again be put together with prostitutes if she did not cooperate with the authorities. She was handcuffed, blindfolded and shackled for fifteen days in solitary confinment. She was given polluted water to drink and specially trained dogs were brought to her cell to intimidate her. During torture, her spine was damaged. She was burned with cigarette butts on her nipples and other sensitive parts of her body. She was given electric shock treatment and was sprayed with burning chemicals. While in prison, she became paralysed from the waist down and developed diabetes and anaemia.
During interrogation, she was taken before her fiance, stripped naked and threatened with rape if the information the authorities required was not forthcoming.
She was sentenced to 10 years imprisonment.
Khadija Abu 'Arqoub is a young peasant widow from the village of Dura, near Hebron. She was preparing for her secondary school certificate examination when arrested in 1973 on suspicion of being a Communist and a member of the Palestinian National Front in the Occupied Territories. She was stripped naked and tortured by two investigators named Johny and James. She was beaten mercilessly, her hair was pulled out by the roots, she was threatened with rape, there were attempts to strangle her and she was kept in solitary confinment. She was arrested for a second time in 1974, going through the same ordeals.
The Commission was also told of several Arab women prisoners serving life sentences in Israeli jails, among them Fatma Al-Barnawi, Miriam Shakhshir, Rasmiyah Oudeh, Aisha Oudeh and others. All are seriously ill as a result of torture and the inhuman conditions prevailing in the prisons. Other women serving shorter sentences, such as Khadijah Rumman, Nuha Mina and Su'ad Abu Mialah, are also in bad condition after the torture to which they have been subjected. All of these women have requested their lawyer, Mrs. Felicia Langer, to appeal to world public opinion to save their lives and the lives of all Arab prisoners and detainees in Israeli Jails.
The Commission heard detailed evidence from Dr. Mustapha Melhem, Mr. Mordechay Avi-Shaul and Mrs. Felicia Langer on the Israeli annexation of Arab Jerusalem in contravention of international conventions and United Nations resolutions. Details were also given of the requisition of Arab land for the establishment of Israeli Jewish settlements. This land requisition, as indicated by the information presented, has assumed serious proportions.
On the basis of evidence presented to it, the Commission concluded that Israeli aggression and offences against the population and the Holy Places in Arab Jerusalem are continuing. They are being perpetrated in contravention of the Geneva Convention (1949), the UN General Assembly and Security Council resolutions and, finally, the resolutions of UNESCO.
The Commission was informed that the Judaisation of Arab Jerusalem began with the adoption of three resolutions by the Israeli Parliament on June 27, 1967, calling for the Judaisation of the municipal administration. These resolutions were followed on June 28 by a decree annexing Arab Jerusalem and measures confiscating a number of Arab houses in the city, on the pretext that they were uninhabited or in a dangerous state, and seizing land claimed to be abandoned.
The authorities also destroyed Arab homes, religious sites and monuments on the pretext of excavations in search of Jewish archeological material and Solomon's Temple. Pressure and threats were used on Arabs in attempts to seize their land and property. New Jewish quarters have been built, surrounding Arab Jerusalem on all sides.
An important Judaisation measure in Arab Jerusalem is the pressure put on Christian landowners, merchants and professionals to emigrate. Christian ecclesiastical sources in Jerusalem have published the following figures on the declining Christian population in the city:
1. Greek Orthodox: 5,000 before the 1967 occupation, now between 450 and
2. Roman Catholics: 7,000 before the 1967 occupation, now only 4,000.
3. Armenian Orthodox: 3,000 before the occupation, now only 2,000.
4. Other sects: 3,300 before the occupation, now only 2,360.
Christians numbered before the occupation a total of 18,300. That figure has now dwindled to 12,860. This shows that the number of followers of the Christian faith in Arab Jerusalem has decreased sharply in the past 7 years. Most of the decline is due to their having been pressurised to emigrate. These figures do not take into account the natural growth of the population.
Other points which should be mentioned here are:
1. Replacement of Jordanian currency by Israeli currency.
2. Closure of all Arab banks and confiscation of their assets.
3. Transfer of Arab medical centres, laboratories and bloodbanks to neighbouring cities.
4. Closure of the Arab Social Service Office.
5. Harassment of Arab charities and mass organisations now under the supervision of the Israeli Service Office.
6. Changing Arab street names in Jerusalem.
7. Imposition of Israeli syllabuses and Israeli supervision in education.
8. Prevention of citizens of Jerusalem, absent during the July 7, 1967 census from returning to the city. Those absent on account of work or visits numbered 20,000.
9. Expulsion of large numbers of religious, educational and administrative figures to the East Bank of Jordan or to Lebanon, in violation of Article 49 of the Geneva Convention.
10. Increasing the number of Jewish settlers in the city of Jerusalem from 100,000 in 1948 to 250,000 in 1975, and reducing the number of the original Arab citizens from 140,000 in 1948 to 70,000 in 1975.
The Commission was informed that land requisition by the Israeli authorities in the occupied Arab territories is part and parcel of their plans to annex those territories. Israeli Jewish settlements have been and are still being established on this land. The Commission was handed an official Israeli map, published by the Israeli Government Information Service, showing that 52 Jewish settlements had been established in the occupied Arab territories during the period 1967-1974. Although the map did not show all settlements, it nevertheless served to reflect the policy and actions of the Israeli occupation authorities.
Land requisition, the Commission was told, takes various forms and is carried out on various pretexts. One method is to fence the land in and to declare it reserved for "military purposes." Such was the case with Bedouin land on the outskirts of Rafah in the Gaza Strip. Over 100,000 dunums were expropriated (4 dunums = 1 acreEditor). Another form is the expropriation of state-owned land which before 1967 belonged to the Jordanian Government. Nearly one-sixth of the total area of the West Bankmore than one million dunumshas been requisitioned in this manner. A third practice is to seize what is euphemistically referred to as "absentee property"the property of people not living in the West Bank during the 1967 war and never allowed to return. An estimated 328,789 dunums have been taken over in this way.
On other occasions, the authorities deny claims to ownership of the land and destroy the relevant official records. This method was used to good effect in the case of the 8,000 inhabitants of Arab Al-Sawahreh village, near Jerusalem. A 68-dunum tract of land near the Dead Sea, which they had owned for generations and for which they regularly paid property tax, was seized on the grounds that it had never belonged to them in the first place. Mrs. Felicia langer, who acted for them when they brought the case to court, told the Commission of this particular instance.
In 1973, the United Jewish Fund started to exploit this tract of land without the owners' permission. Bulldozers moved in to prepare part of the land for the building of a Jewish settlement, while another section was declared "closed military area." When the owners demanded an explanation from the United Jewish Fund, a deaf ear was turned to their pleas and they were even termed "trespassers." To prove their claim, the owners asked for a copy of the official land register from the responsible government department, only to be informed that the page concerning their particular property happened to be missing from the records. Consequently, they lost their land.
Others who try to resist more actively, the Commission was told, are intimidated, threatened, beaten or arrested. Many examples were quoted, but the case of a certain Ahmed, as recounted by Mrs. Felicia Langer, who acted as his legal counsel, serves as an illustration:
Ahmed, who lives in Surif village, had a vineyard between Bethlehem and Hebron (Al-Khalil) which was the source of his family's income. After the occupation in 1967, the vineyard was declared a military area and the owner was forbidden entry without special permission from the Hebron Military Governor. At a later stage, the authorities decided to expropriate the vineyard altogether. Ahmed was asked to sign a document giving up his property "voluntarily," which he naturally refused to do. He was threatened and beaten and when nothing seemed to have an effect, he was imprisoned. But still he did not give in, and took his case to Court. Before the Court could discuss his case, however, officials of the Absentees' Property Office had had the vines uprooted and the land ploughed over and fenced in.
In other cases, the Commission was told, the occupation authorities drove the inhabitants of villages away, razed these same villages to the ground and then expropriated the land. 360 villages in the occupied territories have met this fate. Where many of them once stood, new Jewish settlements have been established.
The Commission heard evidence to the effect that the Israeli occupation authorities are practising large-scale cultural and intellectual repression in the occupied territories.
Writers, journalists and intellectuals in general are being arrested, imprisoned, tortured, sentenced to long terms of imprisonment or deported to Jordan or Lebanon. Examples of those so treated are Khalil Touma and Rajeh Ghneim, both poets, Adel Samara, Bashir Barghouti, Ali Al-Khatib, Ghassan Tahboub, Saleh Salem, and Mohammed Abdel Salam, all journalists, and writer Mahmoud Shuqair. In some cases, people are simply kidnapped and never seen again"disposed of by killing"as was the case with Youssef Nasr, the journalist.
The mass media and all material published in the occupied territories are subject to strict and permanent censorship. Violation of the censor's orders results in a close-down of publication and arrest of the editor. Other attempts are also made by the occupation authorities to prevent anti-occupation newspapers from appearing. Sometimes, fires "break out" in certain publishing offices, as has happened several times to the East Jerusalem newspaper Al-Sha'ab.
Information was also presented to the Commission indicating that the occupation authorities, in their drive to keep the population in ignorance of the true state of affairs, have changed and distorted the educational syllabuses in the occupied territories in general, and in East Jerusalem in particular. Examples were taken from the history syllabus and those of geography and religious subjects. It is hoped to keep the pupils ignorant of Arab history and to glorify that of the Israelis. Special efforts are made to conceal the history of Palestine and to eradicate the very word "Palestine."
The Commission also received proof that the Israeli occupation authorities are interfering in colleges and schools. Israeli armed forces and police have on many occasions occupied educational establishments and attacked and arrested both students and teachers, who have been interrogated, imprisoned, tortured and in some cases deported.
The Commission was also told that special efforts are being made by the occupation authorities to suppress Arabic literature and to propagate unpatriotic tendencies. The Arab heritage is concealed and distorted so as to pave the way for unpatriotic values and concepts.
All this is in total contravention of the United Nations and UNESCO resolutions which have demanded that Israel refrain from taking such measures.
On the basis of the evidence placed before the Commission and the firm conviction of all its members that all violations of human rights in the occupied territories should be made known, denounced and stopped. immediately, the Commission reached the following conclusions:
1. Laws applied in the occupied territories:
It has been established beyond any doubt that the Israeli authorities are applying repressive laws and regulations in the occupied territories that have never before been part of the legal Code of these territories. These laws and regulations have been introduced by the Israeli occupation authorities in flagrant violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention (1949). This Convention, to which Israel is a signatory, explicitly prohibits any occupation authority from introducing new laws and regulations in any occupied territory.
These laws are the Defence (Emergency) Regulations of 1945, inherited from the British mandatory rule in Palestine, and Orders relative to Public Security in the Occupied Territories. Both the Regulations and the Orders grant the Israeli military occupation authorities unlimited powers of arrest, detention, deportation, restriction of freedom of movement, confiscation of property and demolition of houses, all without explanation, charges, trial or judgement.
The Defence Emergency Regulations were bitterly attacked by present-day Israeli rulers, during the British mandate over Palestine. A former Israeli Minister of Justice has said: "There were no such laws even in Nazi Germany . . . The Defence laws . . . destroy the very foundation of justice in this land."
Thousands of Palestinians and other inhabitants of the occupied Arab territories were and still are being victimised daily, under one or both of these Regulations and Orders.
2. Judicial persecution:
The evidence presented to the Commission further establishes that trials of a political nature are only conducted before military courts, appointed by the Israeli military authorities. The right of appeal is denied; judgements are based exclusively on confessions extracted by threats, intimidation or other violent methods, all of which are strictly prohibited by and contrary to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the Geneva Convention Relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War (1949) and elementary principles of justice and fair trial.
The military tribunals and courts are not bound by any rule of procedure and do not provide the minimum guarantees for the right of defence. Both defence counsel and accused are extremely restricted in exercising the sacred right of defence guaranteed in civilised societies.
3. Extrajudicial reprisals:
The Commission heard conclusive evidence to the effect that the Israeli Government in accordance with a law enacted in 1972 is kidnapping Palestinians from neighbouring countries and bringing them for trial before military courts for supposed "crimes," committed neither in the occupied territories nor in Israel. Such "crimes" can be merely membership of a political organisation or association with members of such an organisation which is considered by the Israeli authorities to be "dangerous" for their security in the occupied territories. No government in the world, with the exception of Israel, is known to have such a law and to be applying it against citizens of other countries. Under this law which can be termed "legalised kidnapping and violation of the sovereignty of other states," many Palestinians, Lebanese, Syrians and other nationals have been kidnapped from neighbouring countries and brought for trial before military courts in Israel or the occupied territories for their activities outside Israel and the occupied territories. This is a flagrant violation of all international conventions and covenants to which Israel itself is a signatory.
4. Mass arrests and collective punishment:
Evidence presented to the Commission proves beyond doubt that the Israeli occupation authorities have been following a systematic policy of repression designed to break the will and determination of the inhabitants of the occupied territories to rid themselves of the Israeli occupation.
As a result of this policy, the Israeli occupation authorities have been arresting thousands of inhabitants of the occupied territories, particularly political leaders, intellectuals, trade unionists, workers, women and students who are playing a role in mobilising their people against the occupation. Many of the arrested are administratively detained without charge, trial or judgement. Figures presented to the Commission indicate that about 27,000 Palestinians have been imprisoned or administratively detained since the occupation in 1967. 4,000 of them are reported to be still in the prisons of the occupation authorities.
A further step in this policy of breaking the resistance of the people of the occupied territories is the large-scale use by the Israeli occupation authorities of collective punishment such as the demolition of houses, the confiscation of property, the imposition of a state of seige on whole villagesall as reprisals for offences committed by an individual or individuals.
5. Use of torture on prisoners and detainees:
A number of political leaders and intellectuals from the occupied territories recently deported by the Israeli authorities after being incarcerated for a long period in Israeli prisons have presented conclusive evidence to the Commission that prisoners and administrative detainees are being subjected to the most inhuman, brutal, physical and psychological torture in the prisons of the occupation authorities.
The Commission invited Mr. Ziyyad Al-Azzah, a 19-year-old student from the occupied territories, to give evidence of the brutal tortures he had undergone at the hands of the Israeli authorities. Mr. Al-Azzah is at present having medical treatment for the injuries he suffered under torture and was not allowed by his doctors to appear before the Commission. However, he was able to send an authenticated tape-recording giving details of the time he spent in prison and the brutal tortures inflicted on him.
Torture is being applied to extract information from the prisoners and break their will. The tortures used include deprivation of sleep for long periods, brutal beating on all parts of the body, particularly on the head and sexual organs, burning with cigarettes, suspension from the ceiling, application of electric currents, extraction of finger- and toe-nails, application of chemical liquids which burn into wounds and genitals, and of sexual assault on prisoners and rape of their wives.
It has been brought to the attention of the Commission that over 25 prisoners have been killed under torture. A number of others have become mentally deranged and are confined to mental hospitals as a result of torture. Others have been permanently disabled or are undergoing treatment for physical injuries and psychological disturbances resulting from torture.
The Commission examined medical reports by responsible medical authorities to this effect.
6. Repression of women:
Evidence presented to the Commission established beyond any doubt that women are a special target of the brutality of the occupation authorities. They are intimidated, arrested, administratively detained, tortured and subjected to all kinds of inhuman treatment by the Israeli occupation authorities. Above all, the aim is to demoralise them, break their will and consequently, demoralise the whole population of the occupied territories. Several cases have been brought to the attention of the Commission of women prisoners held in solitary confinement, daily subjected to torture, intimidation and denial of badly-needed medical treatment.
The Commission was informed of cases where pregnant women and women with small children have been arrested, administratively detained and tortured.
7. Expulsion and deportation:
The Commission heard conclusive evidence to the effect that the Israeli occupation authorities continue to exercise a wide-scale policy of deportation and expulsion of citizens from the occupied territories to neighbouring countries. This is clearly aimed at uprooting a people from their own country and dispersing them. It also aims at destroying the Palestinian people and annexing their land.
During the past few years, the Israeli occupation authorities have concentrated on deporting and expelling prominent personalities from the occupied territories with the obvious aim of depriving the people of these territories of their leaders.
The Commission heard evidence to this effect from prominent leaders from the occupied territories who have been arrested, tortured and then deported.
This is in flagrant violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention and the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, both of which Israel has signed.
Thousands of inhabitants of the occupied territories have been deported and expelled since the occupation began in 1967. In the last few years alone, over 1,600 prominent figures and politically-active people have been deported.
The Commission noted particularly that the expulsion of political leaders, trade unionists and intellectuals from the West Bank and the Gaza Strip considerably increased following the adoption of the Resolution on the National Rights of the Palestinian Arab People by the 29th Session of the UN General Assembly. In the course of the last three months alone, ten prominent leaders of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip have been deported to Lebanon and Jordan.
8. Annexation of Arab Jerusalem and land requisition:
The Commission heard detailed evidence of annexation of Arab Jerusalem by Israel in flagrant violation of resolutions of the UN, UNESCO and other international bodies, including details of demographic and geographic changes in the Arab part of the city. Conclusive evidence was also presented of blatant interference in the religious, civic and social life of the city. The United Nations, UNESCO and other international bodies have repeatedly called on the Israeli Government to rescind its annexation and to respect the Arab character of the city, to no avail.
The Israeli occupation authorities, in contravention of international law, have also confiscated a large area of land in the occupied territories, driving out the inhabitants and bringing Jewish immigrants to live in the new settlements built on this Arab land.
This is another serious contravention of the Fourth Geneva Convention which explicitly forbids the transfer of population from the territory of the occupying power to any occupied territory.
9. Cultural and intellectual repression:
Evidence presented to the Commission establishes beyond doubt that there is wide-scale repression of intellectuals and attempts to forcibly suppress the culture of the occupied Arab territories. Writers, journalists, artists, poets and intellectuals in general are being arrested, tortured, detained, and denied freedom of expression because of their opposition to Israeli occupation and their role in the freedom struggle of their people. The Commission received a detailed list of such people who are at present undergoing torture in Israeli goals.
The Israeli authorities have also changed Arab educational syllabuses and school textbooks, especially in regard to history, social sciences, Arabic language courses and Islamic studies. Pupils are obliged to study Jewish history and the history of the State of Israel, while they are denied facilities to study their own history and culture. The Arab cultural heritage is being intentionally neglected. Geographical facts are distorted and the "civilising" mission of Israel is emphasised.
The total picture of evidence presented before the Commission reveals conclusively that the occupied Arab territories are living under a rule of an openly terroristic nature. Crimes are being committed daily which can be described without hesitation as war crimes and crimes against humanity. They are not committed by mere individuals, but are part of a system of institutionalised terror planned and determined by the topmost leaders in the Israeli Government. The responsibility rests with the Israeli ruling circles as a whole.
The multitude of violations of human rights are crimes which call for the severest punishment. The Commission demands that all those responsible for instituting this system of terror as well as those who are executing it should be brought to trial for these crimes by the international community, in accordance with Article 6 of the Nuremberg Statutes.
The use of barbaric terror as a tool to perpetuate occupation, subjugate other peoples, and deprive a whole people of its right to self-determination, independence and sovereignty, is a crime which should be condemned and punished by the whole world.
With all it stands for, the Israeli occupation of Arab territories is a challenge to all mankind and a serious threat to the peace and security of the Middle East and the whole world. We must respond to it without hesitation. Governments not only have to condemn it, but also to persistently work for the implementation of the UN Resolutions on the Middle East crisis and the national rights of the Arab people of Palestine. The UN resolutions still await implementation.
The Commission greets the peace forces in Israel, those courageous men and women resolutely struggling against the policy of war and aggression pursued by the Israeli Government and valiantly defending the rights of the people of the occupied Arab territories.
The Commission places its findings before all governments, parliaments, inter-governmental and non-governmental bodies, mass organisations and all men of goodwill, urgently appealing to them to act immediately in unison and without hesitation to put an end to the flagrant violation of human rights by the Israeli authorities in the occupied Arab territories. It calls upon each and everyone of them to shoulder their responsibilities. Silence is impermissible and unjustifiable in the face of the crimes being committed daily in the occupied territories.
The Commission makes an urgent appeal to all to:
1. Denounce the grave violations of human rights in the occupied Arab territories;
2. Bring pressure to bear on the Israeli Government to release all political prisoners in the occupied Arab territories and stop the use of torture;
3. Put an end to deportation of people from the occupied Arab territories and put pressure on the Israeli Government to allow all those already deported to return to their homes;
4. Actively support and express solidarity with the struggle of the inhabitants of the occupied territories against Israeli occupation;
5. Demand respect and application of all international agreements and covenants on human rights in the occupied territories;
6. Resolutely strive for the implementation of the UN resolutions on the Middle East crisis and on the national rights of the Arab people of Palestine.
In 1968, I appeared together with my colleague, Mrs. Felicia Langer, before the Military Court in Nablus in the occupied territories as lawyer for the defendants in Case No. 213/68. The defendants were a number of secondary school students accused of possessing explosives. They were standing trial in accordance with the Defence (Emergency) Regulations. The explosives the students possessed were no more than the phosphorous from the ends of matches stuffed into a piece of metal piping and secured with wire. The students had heard somewhere that phosphorous could explode and, wanting to do something against occupation, they had invented th is device and placed it near the Military Governor's house. Of course this "bomb" did not go off and nobody was hurt, but the students were, nevertheless, brought to trial before a Military Court.
During the trial, we lawyers challenged the applicability of the Emergency Regulations to the West Bank. We even called in two expert witnessesoutstanding lawyers from NablusMohammed Tawfik Yahia and Wasfi Al-Masri.
Both lawyers testified under oath that the Emergency Regulations of 1945 did not form a part of the laws in force in the West Bank. They stated that these Regulations had been annulled in 1949, when the West Bank became a part of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan. This evidence was neither rebutted nor even acknowledged by the prosecution. The occupation authorities just brushed it aside and applied the Emergency Regulations to the case anyway. The students were each sentenced to 10 years imprisonment.
After this case, the occupation authorities committed another offence against the spirit of the Geneva Convention. The Military Governor of the West Bank issued a decree saying: "In order to clear up any doubts, the Defence Regulations of 1945 apply to the West Bank."
Let us take a look at these infamous Emergency Regulations:
First of all, they grant the Minister of Defence or his representative, the Military Governor, unlimited powers of arrest, detention, confiscation of property, demolition of houses, deportation, etc. for "security reasons." All atrocities and inhuman practices in the occupied Arab territories are "justified" by these Regulations.
These Regulations are being applied not only against the armed resistance, but also against striking students, peaceful demonstrators and those distributing political leaflets or engaging in similar activities. All are brought before Military Courts under one or another provision of these Regulations. Women taking part in sit-in strikes to demand the release of their husbands, brothers or sons are also tried before the Military Courts. The military authorities can bring anyone in the occupied territories, regardless of age, to trial before a Military Court, where he or she may receive prison sentences, heavy fines or both. There are case of minorschildren of 12 or 14 years of agewho have been punished in this way for taking part in demonstrations or similar activities.
Part 2 of the Regulations deals with Military Courts, trial procedure and sentences. Part 3 deals with offences triable in Military Courts. Part 5 deals with provisions applicable to offences under the jurisdiction of Military and Civilian Courts. Part 7 deals with what is called "unlawful association" (sections 84 and 85 of this part define unlawful association in such a way that any association could come under this heading). Part 10 deals with restrictive orders, police supervision, detention and deportation. Part 11 deals with the requisition of property, and Part 12 deals with demolition and the forfeiture of immovable property. All these elements grant the Military Governor unlimited powers in all fields. For example, Part 10 states that the Military Governor has the power to arrest any person and place him in administrative detention without having to charge him or bring him to trial.
The demolition of houses is being carried out pursuant to Section 119 of the Emergency Regulations. I must say here that even the British Mandatory Government, which actually introduced the Emergency Regulations as a result of the Palestinian Arab people's revolt of 1936, did not apply this Section in this manner. Houses were only destroyed then if their occupants opened fire on British soldiers. The Israeli occupation authorities, however, have gone one step further and are using Section 119 to justify the collective punishment of innocent people for acts committed by an individual or individuals. This was the concept of justice prevailing in early times. Punishment would be visited on a whole clan or tribe in retribution for the offence of just one of its members. Such a concept is against all legal standards and is a violation of human rights. Anyone who commits a crime should be tried and sentenced, it is true, but why should the members of his family, who are not even considered as accessories by the authorities, be punished too?
West Bank Political Leader
Mr. Al-Najjab is a 41-year-old political leader from the West Bank. He comes from Ramallah, near Jerusalem, and is married with two children. He was arrested in Arab Jerusalem on April 30, 1974, and kept in detention until February 28, 1975, when he was deported with four others to Lebanon. His wife and children are still living in the occupied territories. The following is the story of his arrest and torture as he recounted it before the Commission:
As I was walking in Arab Jerusalem on the morning of April 30, 1974, two civilian cars stopped beside me and several people in civilian clothes jumped out and seized me. I was immediately thrown into one of the cars. As I lay on the floor, the passengers put their feet on my head. I was taken directly to the Al-Maskobiyah investigation centre in Jerusalem.
On arrival, three Israeli investigators started questioning me. One of them told me, "You should be aware of exactly what kind of a position you're in. You are now in our hands and nobody knows your whereabouts. Everybody thinks you've left the country. So you have a choiceeither you tell us all you know, or we kill you." I replied that all the information I had was on my identity card and I had nothing more to add. My interrogators wanted any information they could get on the Palestinian National Front in the Occupied Territories.
My questioners began to punch me in the face and about the ears. After approximately four hours of such treatment, I was handcuffed and blindfolded and taken to a special torture centre in Ramallah.
There, by chance, by pure chancewhen I had had my handcuffs and blindfold removedI saw Mrs. Felicia Langer across the courtyard. I shouted, "Felicia, I am now in thier hands, please tell the world outside." I was then dragged off into the building and my torture started. I was kept for 48 hours without a single moment of sleep. I was hung from a door with my hands tied behind my back. A soldier stood guard behind me, with a rod in his hand, and whenever he saw that I was about to fall asleep he smashed it down hard on the table to keep me awake.
After those 48 hours, I was taken to yet another room, I was then stripped naked and hung upside down from the ceiling by my feet. Two of my questioners then began to beat me with rods, one on the soles of my feet and the other on my sexual organs. They went on torturing me, with some rest periods, from 7 in the evening to 5 in the morning. During these intervals, I had to put my swollen feet into cold water and then was forced to jump up and down. In the morning, I was allowed 3 hours sleep, and then the same treatment continued. This went on for about a week.
During this time, they threatened to bring my wife and to rape her in front of me, or to bring in my two children and kick and punch them before my eyes. They even threatened to bring in my old father and beat him up. On the fourth or fifth day of this torture, they took me to a room where I could hear my wife's voice on the other side of the wall. I heard her say, "I know he is in your hands. You will be responsible for whatever happens to him." I could not shout out to her because I was gagged. After that, they again threatened to rape my wife if I did not give them the information they wanted. I was then left blindfolded in solitary confinement.
On May 17, 1974, I was taken back with two other detainees, Adel Barghouti and Khalil Hijazi, to Al-Maskobiyah Centre in Jerusalem. On arrival, I was made to stand facing a wall with my hands up. My questioners started to beat me all over until I fainted. I regained consciousness, soaked through, alone in a cell.
On May 20, 1974, I was taken back to Ramallah. There my feet were chained and tied to a door. The chain was not more than 30 cms. long and I was obliged to sleep sitting on the hole I used as a WC. I remained in this state for 17 days. During this time, I could see and hear others in their cells. I saw Attallah Rashmawi, a trade unionist from Bethlehem, Hammad Abu Gharbiya, a trade unionist from East Jerusalem, Abdullah Al-Bei'rat, a farmer from Ramallah and the three Mala'ebi brothersRiyad, Zuhair and Zaki. I used to hear their screams during torture in the adjoining cell.
On May 29, 1974, I was able for the first time to meet my lawyer, Walid Al-Fahoum, who works in Mrs. Felicia langer's office. After his visit, I was transferred to Al-Maskobiyah once again, where I stayed for a week, before being taken to a military prison.
There all my civilian clothes were removed and I was handed a uniform which had evidently once belonged to an Israeli paratrooper. I was handcuffed and given a black sack that was to be put over my head whenever I left my cell. I was told by a military officer, "You are now in a military prison. No law applies here, so you had better confess your crimes or you will be killed. This prison has special traditions. No prisoner leaves here alive without confessing his crimes."
On June 8, 1974, I was beaten in the morning till noon, then stripped and taken outside to a yard where I was handed over to the guards. I had the black sack over my head and I was hancuffed. The guards forced me to crawl over sharp stones until my knees began to bleed and I refused to move. They then took hold of my handcuffs and dragged me over the stones. They told me if I didn't do what they said I would be savaged by specially trained dogs. I could actually hear a dog barking quite close by.
After that, I was ordered to stand on one leg while holding a heavy chair over my head. I refsed and threw it down. My tormentors beat me and tried to make me lift it again, but I still refused. They then changed their tactics and hung me by my hands from a window. I stayed like that for about 3 hours, after which I was taken to a cell of strange proportions. It was about 50 cm. by 50 cm. and not more than 160 cms. high. Uneven, sharp stones protruded from the floor. I had to remain crouched there for three to four hours on my tender swollen feet. When I tried to sit down to rest, the stones penetrated deep into my flesh.
From there, I was taken again to the window to be suspended for three or four hours at a stretch. This sequence went on for 48 hours. I was prevented from sleeping and was allowed only 15 minutes' rest at a time, when I was given something to eat. On June 10, 1974, I was back in the investigation room being beaten. When my questioners realised that they were not going to get what they wanted, I was left alone for two days, after which time I was sent back to Ramallah.
On June 14, I met my lawyer, Mrs. Felicia Langer, for the first time, in the presence of one of the investigators who called himself Abu Labeed (all the investigators have Arab nicknames, e.g. Abu Ali, Abu Labeed, Abu Jamil, Abu Hani, etc.) She said she could not talk to me before obtaining a habeus corpus order from the Israeli High Court. I tried to tell her about my torture, to show her the scars on my body, but the investigator cut the visit short.
That same day, I was taken back to the military prison where the same old treatment continued, that is to say, alternating between the small cell and being hung from the window. After two days, I was back in the investigation room where I was beaten and for the first time sprayed with some chemical that made me feel as if my body was on fire. They concentrated the spray on my chest and sexual organs and burned the skin off. The scars were still visible a month later and I showed them to Felicia Langer.
During this time, I could see and hear others being tortured in the same way. There were Jamil Freitekh, a trade unionist from Nablus, Attallah Rashmawi, also a trade unionist, from Bethlehem. I saw that all his toe-nails had been extracted. There was also Khalil Hijazi, a trade unionist from Nablus; Khaldun Abdel Haq, a political figure from the West Bank; his brother, Abbas Abdel Haq, an engineer; and Husni Haddad, an engineer from Bethlehem. I also heard that Ghassan Harb, an intellectual from Ramallah, was there.
On June 22, my interrogators once again began torturing me in the same way, that is to say repeating the small cell/window routine for 48 hours. I was later taken to an investigation room and told that the torture period was over and now I was to be treated with scientific methods. On the table, there were syringes, electric devices and the chemical spray which I had previously experienced. My body was sprayed again with the chemical, but the syringes and electric equipment were left alone.
I was then taken to a cell on my own and left there. I was handcuffed and my feet were bound. On June 25, my handcuffs were taken off and my shackles removed. I was allowed to have a shower and to use soap for the first time since my arrest. On June 28, I was taken with five other colleagues to the Yagur Investigation centre near Haifa. With me were Khaldoun Abdel Haq, Jamal Freitekh, Khalil Hijazi, Adel Barghouti and Ghassan Harb.
On June 30, I met another of my lawyers, Mr. Hanna Naqqara, for the first time, and on July 2 I met Mrs. Felicia Langer. I was able to show her the scars on my chest, knees and the place where the shackles had been round my ankles. On July 7, I was permitted to meet the representative of the International Red Cross. Of course, I talked to him about all that I had suffered, but he said that he could not help me and that all he could do was to report on all that I had told him to his headquarters in Geneva. He added that from his experience with other prisoners he judged that my hard times were over.
I remained in a special windowless cell until July 28. From there, I was taken to Ramleh Prison, where I was placed in solitary confinement for 7 months.
On February 24, 1975, I began a hunger strike. My demand was either to be tried or to be set free. On February 28, I was taken away from Ramleh Prison by military police and transported to the Lebanese border. There were four other detainees in the same car. A military officer read a statement out to us, which he said was a deportation order issued by the West Bank Military Governor.
West Bank journalist and writer
Mr. Mahmoud Shuqair is a 34-year-old well-known West Bank intellectual. He graduated from Damascus University, specialising in philosophy and sociology. He is married and the father of two small children. He was arrested twice by the occupation authorities. The second time he was deported to Lebanon. The following is the story of his arrests as he told it before the Commission:
The first time I was arrested was on July 29, 1969. The Israeli police came to my house in the middle of the night and conducted a thorough search both inside and outside the house. Afterwards, I was taken to an interrogation centre in Al-Maskobiyah Prison.
My interrogators there alleged that I was a danger to security and asked me to give all the information I had concerning any actions, or intended actions, to endanger security on the part of any person. I told my three questioners that I had not done anything which could be considered as endangering security and, furthermore, I knew of no one working to that end.
They threatened to torture me, rape my wife and to demolish my house if I didn't tell them what they wanted to know. My answer was that I knew nothing. Interrogation continued until dawn. I was then led by a Secret Service officer to a cell which was brightly lit, day and night, and where the air was stale and heavy. I spent two days in this terrible place, during which time I was prevented from sleeping. Every half an hour a policeman would come and open a small hatch in the cell door, with the maximum amount of noise and shouting, and then shut it equally noisily.
Later, I was driven by armed frontier guards to a military prison, which I later learned was Sarafand Prison. During the transfer, I was handcuffed, my feet were chained, I was blindfolded and ordered to keep quiet. I was thrown into a cell 90 cm. by 80 cm. without any mattress or blanket. After 15 minutes, a guard led me to another room and I was left alone. I took off my blindfold and saw a bare wire hanging down from the ceiling.
Again, 15 minutes later the same guard returned and led me to an office where a security officer was sitting behind a desk. He looked at me squarely; "You are here in a military prison. We can kill you very easily. Conditions here differ from those in other prisons. If you don't tell us everything we wish to know we will torture you, and we have many different methods of torture. We can also kill you." I told him that I had nothing to say, whereupon he told me that I would regret it.
He then called in a number of the military police, who told me to strip. The security officer asked me if I was sick. When I replied that I was, he said, "Why don't you tell the Captain what he wants to knowit's better for you." I answered that I had nothing to say. I was blindfolded and led outside.
I was tied up to a wall by my wrists for about 20 minutes and then taken back to the security officer who asked, "Have you thought it over?" I repeated that I had nothing to say.
That was the signal. I was brutally beaten on my head, face and body. After an hour of such a treatment, I was taken out and tied up to the wall again. I was punched in the stomach and lost consciousness.
When I came around, I found I was soakingthey had thrown water over me. I was led back to my cell.
My interrogators asked me about the Communist Party and its political activities. Every time I answered that I was not a member of that party, the torture would start again. My beatings continued for four days, during which time I had only brief rest periods. I was beaten and punched mercilessly, or left tied up in the sun for hours. There were three interrogators at this stage. I didn't get to know their names, only that one had the rank of Colonel.
One time they put a sack over my head and told me that if I didn't speak they would kill me. Again I repeated that I had nothing to say. One of my interrogators patted me on the shoulder and said, "You are the loser." I was led outside and asked to reconsider and tell all I knew. When he saw that threats were useless he led me back to my cell.
After my spell at Sarafand Prison, I was taken back to the interrogation centre at Al-Maskobiyah and kept in solitary confinement for two weeks. There I was allowed to talk to one of my lawyers, Mrs. Felicia langer, who had applied to the Court for my release on bail.
At the Court itself, the police representative stood up with the Old Testament in his hand and swore to tell the whole truth and nothing but the truth. He then proceeded to lie, "We are unable to meet the request of lawyer Felicia langer, as the prisoner is a member of the Popular Front for the liberation of Palestine, a member of Fatah and a number of other subversive organisations." Imagine! A member of all those organisations at the same time. My interrogators had never asked questions about any of themthey had only seemed interested in the Communist Party and its activities. Mrs. langer then tried to tell the Court about the brutal torture, but the judge waived her remarks aside, "You are not here at a mass meeting." He added that he wasn't interested at all in what she had to say.
After the Court hearing, I was taken back to Al-Maskobiyah, where my interrogation continued, but without beatings. From there I was transferred to Ramallah Prison and then to Al-Damoun Prison where I was administratively detained for 10 months, after which I was released on May 27, 1970.
I was called back several times for questioning. In 1973 I was placed under a restriction of movement order for 6 months. During the October war, I was wanted for questioning by the Israeli military authorities.
On April 19, 1974, I was arrested for the second time. I was walking along a street in Arab Jerusalem when a car stopped nearby and four civilians jumped out and forced me to get in. I was handcuffed immediately and taken to Al-Maskobiyah interrogation centre, where I was kept for nearly an hour before being transferred to another interrogation centre in Ramallah.
On entering Ramallah Prison, I was brutally beaten up by the police and put in a cell where I was kept for four days. During that time, I was questioned but not beaten. I was accused of belonging to the Palestinian National Front in the Occupied Territories, which I denied.
There were three interrogators, one of them carrying a thick rod. He brandished it in my face and told me, "You will be very sorry." I was led to a cell in the prison where I stayed with four others for two days, and was then transferred to a ward with 58 other detainees. It was like being a sardine in a tin.
After three months, on the day I was supposed to be released according to the detention order, I was asked to collect my clothes and leave. My colleagues bade me farewell as if I were going home.
Outside, I found members of the military police waiting for me. I was handcuffed, blindfolded, told to keep silent and then taken to a place I didn't immediately recognise. I later found out that it was El-Jalame Prison. I was kept in a cell for 32 days, with a pail in the corner for urination. I was forbidden to speak or to raise my voice, as that was one of the prison rules. At meal times the guards opened the cell door a fraction, slipped the food in noiselessly, and retired without a word.
I felt as though I was encased in a jungle of cement, iron and secret police, in complete silence and isolation. Despite the rule of silence, however, I learned a new kind of communicationknocking on the walls. This consoled me greatly, as I realised that there were others living in the same conditions as myself. I used to have "conversations" with the occupant of the adjoining cell. After some time, I learned that the prisoner was called Sulaiman Al-Naijab.
In El-Jalame Prison I was not actually beaten, but was continually under questioning and threatened with torture. I was never allowed outside for a breath of fresh air or any exercise. My interrogators used to tell me that I would die under torture if I didn't cooperate, but I told them nothing, except that if they wanted to kill me, they could.
After I had been in the cell for two weeks, I met my lawyer, Felicia Langer, who noticed how my health was deteriorating. While on the subject of health, I complained one day about a bad stomach pain. I told the prison male nurse that I used to vomit after eating. He told me to call the guard on duty if it happened again, but gave me no medecine. I was then called for questioning and the interrogator said to me, "I hear that you are sick. Do you want this situation to continue? Tell us what we want to know, and you will receive medical treatment." I replied that I had nothing to say.
My interrogators at this time numbered six. I got to know some of their nicknamesfor instance, Abu Hani, Johny, Abu Nabil and Abu Ali. I couldn't find out the names of the other two.
I was then transferred to Beit Leid Prison, where I was held for months as an administrative detainee. During that time, I was taken once to Al-Maskobiyah interrogation centre for questioning for 15 days and then back to Beit Leid.
On February 24, 1975, I went on a hunger strike in protest against my detention, and on February 28, I was driven to the Lebanese border, together with four other detainees. The officer accompanying us read a deportation order signed by the Minister of Defence stipulating that I and the other four prisoners should be thrown out of the country.
During my two periods of arrest, I was kept in seven different prisons, which I would like to describe briefly.
The Israeli occupation authorities claim that the prisons are clean and meet all the necessary requirements. This is simply not true. The prisons in the occupied territories are not at all up to the standard of those in Israel itself.
In Ramallah Prison, in the occupied territories, there are no beds. Prisoners and detainees are crowded into very small cells. In Israeli prisons, beds are provided and conditions are better.
In Al-Maskobiyah Prison, there is a cell known as cell No. 8, which is specially for the detainees under interrogation. Sometimes, Israeli common criminals are brought into the cell to beat up detainees. This happened to Eid Al-Shami, from East Jerusalem. He was beaten by Israeli criminals in that very cell, and had a pail of urine thrown over him. Cell No. 17 in the same prison is usually reserved for drunkards and hard-core criminals, but detainees are occasionally kept there too. The poet Khalil Touma and the journalist, Ghassan Tahboub, were held there for 26 days and attacked, beaten and insulted by Israeli common criminals sharing the cell.
Lutfia Al-Hawari was kept for a long time in Al-Maskobiyah with Israeli prostitutes who brutally attacked her at the instigation of the police.
In Shatah Prison, Naim Al-Ashhab, the Communist leader, was brutally attacked by an Israeli common criminal. He was hit on the head with an iron bar, which led to his being taken to hospital.
In Ramlah Prison, in a cell reserved for Israeli prisoners, Yunis Gheilh from East Jerusalem was kept with 26 Israeli common criminals. As he slept, they lit cigarettes and put them between his toes. They also threw cold water over him. In brief, they tortured him as if they were agents of the secret service.
In Beit Leid Prison, a prisoner from East Jerusalem was attacked with a razor blade by an Israeli common criminal. This is another example of the acts of brutality committed against Arab detainees by Israeli ordinary criminals.
I met many people in prison who had been badly tortured. In Damoun Prison, for example, I met one Ishak Maragha from East Jerusalem who had spent 21 days in the cells of Al-Maskobiyah prison, during which time he had been tortured. He had been hung from the ceiling, beaten with sticks on all parts of his body, particularly on his sexual organs, and bullets had been inserted into his rectum. His head was badly injured, with wounds that continued discharging for a long time afterwards.
Mohammed Hassan Diab of East Jerusalem spent 60 days in the cells of Sarafand and Al-Maskobiyah Prisons. He was given electric shock treatment, beaten with sticks and also tortured in other ways.
Bader Da'na of East Jerusalem became severely psychologically disturbed as a result of torture.
Riyad Al-Mala'bi is still suffering from the horrors he experienced in Ramallah, and has become as psychological case.
Eid Al-Shami was kept in cell No. 8 at Al-Maskobiyah which is damp throughout the year. There he was savagely beaten by Israeli common criminals.
Mahfoudh Jaber of East Jerusalem, whom I met in Damoun Prison, was continuously tortured for eight days until he became insane.
Dhafer Sandoukah of East Jerusalem was kept for 35 days in cell No. 13 at Al-Maskobiyah, mercilessly beaten and continuously doused with ice-cold water, even though it was winter time.
During my spell in prison, I also met a number of intellectuals, trade unionists, and leaders of mass organisations who had been administratively detained without being charged. I particularly remember the poets, Khalil Touma of Beit Jala and Rajeh Ghnaim of Salfit; Yacoub Farah, Secretary of the Tailoring Workers' Trade Union in East Jerusalem, who had been detained six times, the lawyer Farouk Salfiti (detained five times); Taysir Arouri, Professor at Beir Zeit University; Abdel Majid Hamdan, a teacher at Bethlehem Secondary School; trade unionists Hussein Tawil and Adnan Dagher (both detained twice); Dr. Farhan Abu El-Lail of Nablus; Mohammed Bagdadi; Labib Fakhr El-Din and Ahmed El-Sheikh Dib. All were detained along with nearly 200 others on suspicion of membership of the Palestinian National Front in the Occupied Territories. They were all brutally tortured and kept in solitary confinement for long periods.
Student, West Bank
Mr. Ziyyad Ahmed Al-Azzah is the eldest of five children. He was born in 1953 and, when arrested in 1974, he was a student. He was invited to appear as a witness before the Commission, but his doctors forbade his release from the hospital, stating that the hardship of the journey and the strain of testifying might prove too much for him. Instead, Mr. Al-Azzah was able to send the Commission an authenticated tape-recording giving the details of his torture. This is transcribed below:
I was arrested on April 23, 1974, at midnight. Armed security forces came to our home in Al-Azzah refugee camp in Bethlehem, where I live with my parents and younger brothers and sisters. They broke down the door and burst in, asking for me. Everybody was awake by this time and very frightened, especially the younger children. I was arrested and beaten there and then, in front of my whole family. Then the security forces searched the house for whatever it was they thought was concealed there. In the process they broke up our furniture. Nothing was found.
They took me with them, blindfolded and handcuffed. I was taken straight to Hebron prison and thrown into a dirty cell one metre by one and a half metres.
When I was taken for interrogation I was told that I was "a dirty Communist" and a member of the Palestine Student Federation in the West Bank, and that I should give all the information I had about all the Communists I knew, and about any members of the Student Federation. On saying that I had no information at all, all hell broke loose. I was ordered to strip naked. Shackles were placed round my ankles. In addition to being handcuffed, I was beaten mercilessly on my head, ankles and feet. The beating progressed to include all parts of my body, including my sexual organs, particularly my testicles. I was burnt with cigarette butts on my feet and chest. I was beaten on my hands and finger-nails, the latter being eventually extracted one by one. I was suspended from the ceiling by my feet, with my head hanging down. Whenever I lost consciousness, I was doused with cold water to bring me round, after which, the torture process would start afresh. Sharp objects were inserted into my rectum and my penis. I was threatened with sexual assault. A metal helmet was later placed on my head and connected up to an electric current which made me feel as if my brains were exploding. I was mercilessly beaten on my feet and later forced to submerge them in a basin of heavily salted water, which made my wounds sting agonisingly.
This treatment was applied to me several times in sessions going on for no less than 24 hours at a stretch. Other methods included confinement in windowless cells, which can only be described as tombs for the living. I didn't know night from day. The food I was given was barely enough to keep me alivea small piece of bread and some foul-smelling soup. I was denied water for two or three days at a time. Whenever I asked for water, I was told that it would be given in exchange for all the information I possessed. I remember the names of only four of my sixteen torturers: Captain Johnny, Haiem, Zaki and Itzhak.
During my spell in solitary confinement, my health deteriorated to an alarming degree, which led my tormentors to transfer me to a prison ward where I was kept with thirty others in a room originally designed for ten. After forty days, I was released and immediately admitted to the government hospital in Bethlehem. I could not walk unaided, and the whole of the right side of my body was completely paralyzed.
While in detention, I saw others going through the same tortures as myself. Among those I saw were Abdullah Al-Siryani, Attallah Rashmawi, Abdel Majid Hamdan, Husni Haddad, Sulaiman Al-Najjab, Abdullah AI Baya' and Mohammed Sa'dah.
Attallah Rashmawi was brutally beaten, all his fingernails were pulled out, and his wife was brought before him and threatened with rape if he did not provide the necessary information. Abdullah Al-Baya' lost his hearing as a result of constant beatings about the head. Mohammed Sa'dah, who suffered from stomach ulcers, was denied any medication or medical treatment while in detention, even though he had an internal haemorrhage. The only medicine he received, as I remember, was Aspro, a headache-relieving tablet.
Scores of young people today are being subjected to these appalling tortures in the prisons and detention centres of the occupation forces.
Writer, West Bank
Among all the forms of oppression and terror practised by Israel in the occupied territories, the cultural and intellectual repression is full of sinister aspects. It seeks to destroy the very concept of the Palestinian nation, to distort history, to terrorise the intelligentsia, and to break the will of the people to fight for their independence and the State of Palestine.
Since the first days of the occupation of Jerusalem and the West Bank, the Israeli occupation authorities have sought to change and distort Arab educational syllabuses to serve their expansionist and aggressive aims, without any concern for the national feelings of Arab students or for their interests and aspirations. When Israel announced its complete annexation of Arab Jerusalem against the will of the international community and its representative organisations, it completely annulled Arab educational programmes in the city and replaced them with new syllabuses serving the aims of Israeli expansionism, and educating Arab students in a way designed to destroy their patriotic spirit.
Distortion of facts was most obvious in the syllabuses relating to history, social studies, the Arab language and Islamic education. In studying these syllabuses, the following two phenomena were noticed. Stress was laid on Israel's being part of the region and on Israeli history, particularly ancient history. The minds of the schoolchildren were filled with detailed information of the State of Israel, its social, economic and cultural basis, its ideals and its development and progress.
A good look at the history syllabus of the fifth, sixth and eighth grades will show the prominence given to Jewish history, and the extent to which Arab history and human values are distorted.
A third of the history syllabus of the fifth primary grade is consecrated to the Hebrews, the rest of the material being taught primarily from the angle of its relation to the Jews in Palestine. In the ancient history of the Arab Peninsula, the stress is on the spread of flourishing Jewish settlements there. In the history of the Persian Empire, sympathetic emphasis is placed on King Cyrus and his statement on the return of the Jewish people to Israel and the rebuilding of the Second Temple. In Greek history, the syllabus includes Jewish resistance to the spread of Greek religion and the revolt against the Greeks.
We thus see that the teaching of history in the fifth grade centres on the Hebrews and aims at consolidating the belief, in the minds of students, that Palestine has always been a Jewish country.
Fifty-six per cent of the history syllabus for the sixth primary grade is devoted to Islamic history. This is, however, completely distorted and taught as a series of continuous aggressive conquests and wars against other nations. The rest of the syllabus centres on Jewish personalities in Palestine during the Roman and Byzantine Empires, completely ignoring other peoples. Dealing with Europe in the Middle Ages, the programme stresses relations between the Jews in the Diaspora and the land of Israelin an apparent historical justification of present Jewish expansionist immigration and settlement on Arab lands.
Fifty per cent of the history syllabus of the eighth grade is devoted to the State of Israel, with numerous other references to Jews in the rest of the syllabus which is related to Europe. Regarding Arabs, the syllabus provides a brief review of the independence of the Arab peoples after the Second World War, given in one single period.
Reviewing the books on social studies, we note the obvious attempt to project the policy of "Judaisation" under which Arab countries and rivers are given Hebrew names, the occupied territories are linked with the history of the Hebrews, and the students are brainwashed into believing that Palestine has been Jewish since ancient times.
Students are psychologically prepared for Israel's expansionist intentions. One Israeli social studies text defines Israel as follows: "Israel's natural borders comprise in the north, the Qasmiya River, in the south, Wadi Al-'Arish up to the Gulf of Eilat, in the east, the Jordan River Valley, and in the west, the Mediterranean."
The Arab student's confidence is weakened in himself and in his nation by stressing Arab social and economic backwardness. The geography book of the third preparatory grade, for example, gives the following description: "The Arab inhabitants drink water from wells. But after the establishment of the State of Israel, excavations were made for underground water, and steps were taken to improve local springs."
Arab history is pictured solely as a series of acts of conquest and piracy. The Druze (an Arab Moslem peopleEditor) are made to seem in constant conflict with the Arabs and not part of them. The grade book, for example, says: "The Druze fortified themselves in their villages in defence against their enemies."
As regards religious instruction, the syllabus lays stress on certain Koranic verses and hadith (sayings of the Prophet MohammedEditor) preaching morality, while ignoring others, such as those calling for Jihad (holy war) in defence of the nation.
Arabic literature is being suppressed to undermine Arab nationalism and not unexpectedly to propagate unpatriotic tendencies and to prevent the inculcation of any values which might bind the student to his nation and land, and which stress sacrifice for the endangered nation.
In the West Bank, the occupation authorities have not completely altered educational syllabuses as in Arab Jerusalem. They have, however, denuded them of any national content, of any reference to the cause of the Palestinian Arab people, and any matter stressing sacrifice or struggle to regain the nation and its rights.
In the history books, chapters relating to the Palestinian cause have been removed and wherever the word "Palestine" appeared, it was replaced by "Israel."
In Arab literature, all topics or sentences including nationalistic sentimentseven if preceding the Arab-Israel conflict by one thousand yearswere removed.
As regards religious instruction, the same was done in the West Bank as in Arab Jerusalem, that is, Koranic verses and Hadith mentioning Jihad or sacrifice for the nation were omitted.
The Israeli occupation authorities' distortion and bowdlerization of educational syllabi in the occupied territories completely contradicts Resolution No. 7081 of the UNESCO General Conference passed in its ninth session in 1956, which called for securing the necessary circumstances for and ensuring protection of the national, religious and cultural heritage of peoples everywhere, and never changing it under any political pretext.
These arbitrary measures also contradict article 26 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which gives parents the natural right to chose the type of education to be given to their children.
The occupation authorities alleged that they changed the programme without infringing at all the sentiments or spiritual values of the Arabs, and that they only omitted racist and anti-Jewish statements. The examples given above will clearly disprove such allegations.
Moreover, the accusation of "racism" with which the authorities charge the Arabs is practised on a large scale in Israeli society in order to educate the new Jewish generation on a racist basis. Le Monde of 29 May, 1971 wrote in this context: "Numerous teenage books recently published in Israel were subjected to a wave of criticism in a programme organised by Israeli radio."
In a Ha'aretz (Israeli dailyEditor) supplement of 20 September, 1974, the Israeli woman writer Tamar Marouz wrote that "one of the frightening phenomena in children's literature in this country are the books issued from time to time which children read with enthusiasm and which always relate how heroic children can defeat the funny and stupid Arabs." She included in her article excerpts from a letter sent to Ha'aretz by a furious father who says: "Now my hands have come upon books the content, form of expression and drawings of which are full of feelings of arrogance and superiority which more than anything else help to engender hate for our neighbours."
Cultural and intellectual oppression in the occupied territories is not limited to educational syllabi but extends to other parts of the educational apparatus, including the closing of schools and imprisoning and exiling thousands of teachers and students.
The Arab heritage which distinguishes Jerusalem and gives it its Arab character has been subjected to a fierce assault since the Israeli occupation of 1967. This aims at burying this heritage, obscuring it and making easier the Judaisation and annexation which the authorities announced, and which met with firm opposition from the majority of the world's peoples and countries and from various international bodies.
Israel has carried out various measures to consolidate its annexation and Judaisation plans.
UNESCO has adopted a number of resolutions to deter Israel from continuing its excavations in Jerusalem and from changing the city's character, in order to preserve all cultural sites, buildings and properties in the occupied territories, and especially in the old city of Jerusalem. The most recent such resolution, No. 441, was adopted by UNESCO General Executive Council on 24 May, 1974, condemning Israel for its stand, which contradicts UNESCO's objectives as stated in its charter, specifically the continuation of attempts to change the historic character of Jerusalem, and excavations which endanger monuments, after its illegal occupation of the city.
Those who follow closely Israeli measures against cultural and educational bodies and against intellectuals and writers in the occupied Arab territories can understand the main aim of the Zionist authorities. It is to destroy any possibility of a cultural revival which would entail the development and crystallisation of the Palestinian personality.
Apart from assassinations of Palestinian intellectuals such as Ghassan Kanafani, Kamal Nasser, Wael Zu'aitar and Mahmoud Al-Hamshari outside the occupied territories by Israeli agents, the occupied territories are witnessing many forms of terror and suppression of intellectuals, writers, and journalists in an attempt to paralyse their potential and to empty the occupied territories of intellectual leaders capable of affecting public opinion and of providing leadership for the masses.
Several methods are used for the suppression of writers, journalists and intellectuals, the most salient of which include house arrest, interrogation to spread terror, detention and deportations.
The inhuman measure of deportation is one of the most dangerous ones practised by the authorities against the Palestinian people in general and against Palestinian intellectuals and opinion-makers in particular. It aims at emptying the occupied territories of its leading and conscious elements who can participate in the crystallisation of public opinion, and of its educated cadres who can enrich the Palestinian national identity.
The Israeli authorities had deported by the end of 1974 around 1600 leading personalities from the various political forces, professions and social classesincluding men of religion, lawyers, medical doctors, engineers, politicians, workers, students, etc. . . and they continue to practise this method under the eyes of the whole world.
The majority of deportees are intellectuals who have played important roles in Palestinian cultural and intellectual life in the occupied territories and who held important posts in cultural and educational organisations, unions, in the press, etc. . . .
The major conclusion is that the occupation authorities are bent on destroying the cultural and intellectual components of the Palestinian people, in order to facilitate the execution of Israel's expansionist policies of denying the very existence of the Palestinian people and usurping their land.
Table of Contents
Laws Applied in the Occupied Territories
1. Death as a Result of Torture
2. Mental Derangement as a Result of Torture
3. Minors under Torture
Repression of Women
Annexation of Arab Jerusalem and Land Requisition
Annexation of Arab Jerusalem
Appendix: Extracts from Testimonies
Laws Applied in the Occupied Territories by Mr. Hanna Naqqara
Torture: Excerpt 1 by Mr. Sulaiman Al-Najjab
Torture: Excerpt 2 by Mr. Mahmoud Shuqair
Torture: Excerpt 3 by Mr. Ziyyad Al-Azzah
Cultural Oppression by Mr. Mahmoud Shuqair
This document has been edited slightly to conform to American stylistic, punctuation and hypertext conventions. The following additional changes have also been made: 1. All unnumbered lists were replaced with numbered lists. 2. To the listing of the topics in the Introduction, "Torture" was added in the same sequence as the exposition and Conclusion. 3. The section on "Cultural Repression" in the exposition was placed at the end after "Land Annexation" to reflect the order of the topic summary in the Introduction and the topic order in the Conclusion. 4. Rather extensive liberties were taken with text formatting with regard to the use of quotation marks vs. blockquotes and similar such devices. 5. Spelling errors and inconsistencies were also addressed.
This document is best viewed with 1024x768 pixel screen area.
Reprinted in accordance with U.S. copyright law.