Israeli interrogators are physically and mentally abusing at least one of the four re-arrested Palestinian political prisoners who escaped from an Israeli prison over a week ago.
Palestinian Authority’s Commission of Detainees Affairs defence team lawyer Khaled Mahajneh was allowed to meet his client Mohammed al-Ardah at Jalama Detention Centre, five days after his re-arrest. Previously, Israeli intelligence services had barred the prisoners from meeting their lawyers.
In an interview with Palestine TV, a visibly emotional Mahajneh said that the Israeli interrogators were depriving his client al-Ardah of food, sleep, and medical care as they continue to subject him to intensive rounds of interrogation.
Mahajneh said, “Mohammed has undergone, and is still undergoing, a very difficult journey of torture. Upon his rearrest, Mohammed was taken to the Nazareth interrogation centre, where he was interrogated in a very ugly way.
“There were about 20 intelligence interrogators in a very small room who stripped him of all his clothes, including his undergarments, and forced him to remain naked for several hours. They gave him a shawl later to cover his genitals, and then transferred him to Jalama interrogation centre.”
The lawyer said that Israeli forces also beat Mohammed during his arrest.
“His head was beaten to the ground and he is now injured above his right eye. He has not received the medical treatment he needs until this moment. He suffers from cuts and scratches all over his body, due to the escape attempt and the Israeli forces’ manhunt for him and Zakaria Zubaidi,” said Mahajneh.
Mahajneh said that during his meeting with al-Ardah, six Israeli interrogators stood behind al-Ardah while his arms and legs were shackled. He said that he repeatedly asked the interrogators to remove the shackles from his arms at least, but the officers denied the request.
Earlier, Israeli authorities said that they had rearrested the escaped prisoners in two separate raids. Mahmoud Abdullah al-Ardah and Yaqoub Mahmoud Qadri were taken in on the southern outskirts of Nazareth on Friday while Zakaria Zubeidi and Mohammed al-Ardah were arrested in the Palestinian village of Shibli-Umm al-Ghanam on Saturday.
Of the six escapees who broke out of Israel’s Gilboa prison at dawn on September 6, the whereabouts of Ayham Nayef Kamanji and Munadel Infaat remain unknown.
In a separate interview posted on Facebook, lawyer Ruslan Mahajneh also confirmed the reports of incessant interrogation where 7-8 hours of interrogation on a daily basis is a routine.
In a statement, the Palestinian Authority Commission said that lawyer Avigdor Feldman met with Zakaria Zubaidi and found that he had a broken jaw and two broken ribs.
The statement said that Zubaidi, “was transferred to an Israeli hospital and was given painkillers after the arrest” and he “suffers from bruises and scratches all over his body as a result of the beatings and abuse”.
The Israeli Supreme Court outlawed the use of torture in 1999 but the Israeli interrogators have continued to torture and abuse the Palestinian detainees. The courts have retroactively sanctioned such incidents. The lawyers say that the ongoing interrogation of the four prisoners could last for up to 45 days. The Israeli intelligence services is leading the interrogation in cooperation with Lahav 443 unit of the police.
Earlier on Saturday, the Israeli Magistrate Court in Nazareth extended the prisoners’ detention until September 19 to “complete the investigation”.
There are about 4,650 Palestinians detained in Israeli prisons including 200 children and 520 administrative detainees held without trial or charges. The Palestinians consider them as political prisoners who are in detention because of the Israeli military occupation or their resistance to it.