Seven Israeli human rights organizations urged Chief Military Advocate General Brig.-Gen. Avichai Mendelblit and Attorney General Menachem Mazuz on Wednesday to launch an investigation into reports that Gaza detainees were held in "horrid conditions" and treated "inhumanely" during the IDF's operation in the Strip.
In a letter to Mazuz and Mendelblit, the groups, which include the Association for Civil Rights in Israel, the Public Committee Against Torture in Israel, B'Tselem and Physicians for Human Rights said that detainees arrested by IDF forces in Gaza suffered from appalling treatment while in the army's custody.
The groups claimed that based on testimonies gathered from some of the detainees by lawyers working for the Public Committee Against Torture, many of the prisoners were held inside holes in the ground for long hours, while they were handcuffed, blindfolded and left exposed to the harsh weather.
Handcuffed and blindfolded (Photo: IDF Spokesperson's Unit)
"We were handcuffed and blindfolded. They put us in a three-meter deep ditch with some 70 other people," Majdi Muhammad Ayid al-Atar, 43, from northern Gaza described in his testimony.
"We spent two days there without any food, water or blankets. They also didn't let us go to the toilet. Afterwards they moved us to another ditch. The soldiers kept beating anyone who dared ask for anything," he recounted.
Another detainee, Samir Ali Muhammad Atar, described: "The soldiers ordered us to climb down the crater and we were held there for two days… the soldiers kept us exposed to the bitter cold and only on the third days gave every two of us a blanket to share. Throughout this time we were handcuffed and slept on the ground."
According to the organizations, the detainees suffered from hunger, were not allowed to relieve themselves, "and worse even – some of them were being held near tanks and in war zones in blatant violation of international humanitarian law."
They noted that separate complaints about specific cases of torture and abuse would be submitted separately.
In light of these testimonies, the groups demanded that an independent and thorough inquiry be launched, "In order to ensure that such treatment does not repeat itself."