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‘He died in my arms': Videos emerge of released Palestinian prisoners recalling detention conditions

Former captives describe being deprived of sunlight and witnessing fellow prisoners being beaten to death by Israelis
A screengrab of an interview with former detainee, Mohammad Akluk (Instagram)

Videos have emerged of recently released Palestinian prisoners detailing their experiences of torture and abuse in Israeli detention.

The men were among a group of 50 prisoners who were released on 11 June through the Zikim crossing west of Beit Lahia in northern Gaza, and are now receiving treatment at Kamal Adwan Hospital.

In the videos, which are being circulated online, one former detainee and cancer patient, Mohammad Aklouk recalled how a 31-year-old fellow prisoner died in his arms after being struck on the head by Israeli soldiers.

“I was reading the Quran when the Israeli special forces came in and told us to lie on our stomachs,’ he said.

“They hit him on the head…he died in my arms,” he recalled. “He said to send a message to his mother.”

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“They [the Israeli forces] took him away in a bag as if he were a dead chicken.”

Aklouk said that his cell was so small that he couldn’t “see the daylight,” so he was forced to gauge his prayer times from the size of the shadows cast from the columns.

“Death was with us every day,” Akluk said.

Other former detainees who spoke to Al Jazeera reported that they were "treated worse than dogs... we were slapped and humiliated [like] playthings," adding that in the truck on the way to the prison, Israeli soldiers "poked us, urinated on us, spat on us and emptied cola on us".

One reported that they were "constantly moved from one place to another," and that their handcuffs were never removed. 

Others said the mistreatment resulted in some detainees having seizures, and that there was "no care" for them.

One detainee reported that his captors placed an anvil on his chest.

Systematic abuse

Recently published reports have revealed the systematic sexual abuse and torture of Palestinian men, women, and children by Israeli forces during the assault on Gaza.

On Wednesday, a report published by the UN Independent International Commission of Inquiry concluded that the frequency and severity of sexual and gender-based violations meant that they were likely “part of [Israeli security forces] operating procedures”.

Israel's systematic sexual abuse and torture of Palestinians detailed in new reports
Read More »

A three-month investigation by the New York Times published on 6 June also revealed systematic sexual abuse and torture perpetrated against Palestinians detained at Sde Teiman military base in southern Israel.

One detainee, Fadi Bakr, a law student from Gaza City, described his four-day long interrogation as “the worst four days of my life”. 

In March, Middle East Eye reported testimony from Palestinians detained by Israeli forces, who said they were physically tortured with dogs and electricity, subjected to mock executions, and held in humiliating and degrading conditions.

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