UNRWA preparing report on Israel's abuse of Gaza detainees

UNRWA preparing report on Israel's abuse of Gaza detainees
Researchers at UNRWA have been compiling testimonies from Gazans who said they were abused while held in Israeli detention.
3 min read
04 March, 2024
Israel has detained hundreds of Palestinians since the war on Gaza began in October [Getty]

The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees (UNRWA) has compiled a report listing hundreds of cases of Israeli abuse against Palestinians detained in Gaza since the war began on 7 October, according to a report by The New York Times on Sunday.

UNRWA will release the testimonies in a report, the US newspapers said, on abuse faced by Palestinian detainees, including children, women and men from the ages of six to 82, the NYT said, adding that it had seen a draft of the report.

UNRWA interviewed more than 100 of the 1,002 Palestinian detainees released back to Gaza last month, who said they were beaten, stripped, robbed, blindfolded, sexually abused and denied access to lawyers and doctors, often for more than a month.

According to the NYT, the UNRWA report describes "a range of ill-treatment that Gazans of all ages, abilities and backgrounds have reported facing in makeshift detention facilities in Israel".

Such treatment, the report concludes, "was used to extract information or confessions, to intimidate and humiliate, and to punish".

The report noted that among the detainees were people suffering from Alzheimer’s disease, learning disabilities, and cancer.

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It added that many were detained from northern Gaza after sheltering in schools and hospitals or after trying to flee south, while others were Gazans holding permits to work in Israel and later detained by Israeli forces after October 7.

A lot of footage has been released from the besieged strip since 7 October, showing Israeli forces carrying out mass detentions of Palestinians, stripping them to their underwear, blindfolding them and making them kneel on the ground.

UNRWA estimates that around 3,000 other detainees remained in Israeli detention without legal representation.

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The reports given to UNRWA echo numerous others published by rights groups on the ill-treatment of Palestinian detainees.

Hundreds of Gaza residents detained in Israel’s military campaign had faced torture methods including electric shocks, cigarette and lighter burns, stress positions and deprivation of sleep, food and toilet facilities, according to investigations by Reuters and +972 magazine.

In November, Amnesty International said it had reports of horrifying cases of torture, abuse and degrading treatment of Palestinian detainees in Israeli detention since 7 October.

The rights group said it had reviewed video footage and images showing torture and other abuse prisoners had been subjected to by Israeli forces. These included severe beatings and humiliation of detainees, including by forcing them to keep their heads down, to kneel on the floor during inmate count, and to sing Israeli songs.

Israel is also accused of using starvation as a weapon of war in its war on Gaza. Human Rights Watch warned said in December that the move amounted to a war crime.