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Group: Palestinians Torture Detainees  07/01 06:19


   TEL AVIV, Israel (AP) -- Palestinian authorities in the West Bank and the 
Gaza Strip systematically torture critics in detention, a practice that could 
amount to crimes against humanity, an international rights group said Friday.

   Human Rights Watch called in its report for donor countries to cut off 
funding to Palestinian security forces that commit such crimes and urged the 
International Criminal Court to investigate.

   The report alleged that Palestinian security forces "use solitary 
confinement and beatings, including whipping their feet, and force detainees 
into painful stress positions for prolonged periods, including hoisting their 
arms behind their backs with cables or rope, to punish and intimidate critics 
and opponents and elicit confessions."

   HRW's report comes a year after the death of Nizar Banat, an outspoken 
critic of the Palestinian Authority, whose family says he died after security 
forces stormed his residence in the middle of the night and beat him with metal 
batons. His death sparked weeks of protests against the PA, which governs parts 
of the Israeli-occupied West Bank. Palestinian security forces violently 
dispersed some of those protests..

   Amnesty International said last week that the Palestinian Authority has 
failed to hold its security forces accountable for the death. Palestinian 
authorities arrested 14 officers last summer and are trying them in a military 
court, but have taken no action against top commanders.

   "More than a year after beating to death Nizar Banat, the Palestinian 
Authority continues to arrest and torture critics and opponents," said Omar 
Shakir, Israel and Palestine director at Human Rights Watch.

   "Systematic abuse by the PA and Hamas forms a critical part of the 
repression of the Palestinian people."

   The group listed Palestinians who it said had been arbitrarily arrested in 
the aftermath of Banat's death.

   HRW said security forces are not held to account for the alleged torture and 
that given their systematic nature over many years, the practice could amount 
to crimes against humanity.

   Palestine is part of the Convention Against Torture, which requires members 
to work to prevent torture.

   The report also describes Israeli mistreatment and torture of Palestinian 
detainees in the West Bank, saying that no indictments have been issued against 
Israeli security forces despite hundreds of complaints made over the last 20 

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