Prisoners held in an Israeli detention camp in the Negev desert are being subjected to widespread physical and mental abuse, with at least one reported case of a man having a limb amputated due to injuries caused by constant handcuffing, according to two whistleblowers who worked at the local.

The sources described the horrific treatment of detainees at Israel’s Sde Teiman camp, which houses Palestinians from Gaza and suspected Hamas militants, including prisoners who are regularly kept handcuffed to hospital beds, blindfolded and forced to wear diapers.

According to the two sources, the facility, located approximately 18 miles from the border with Gaza, consists of two distinct sections: a compound where up to 200 Palestinian detainees from Gaza are confined under severe physical restraints inside cages, and a field hospital where dozens of war-wounded patients are handcuffed to their beds and often deprived of pain relief.

One whistleblower, who worked at the facility as a prison guard, said inmates were forced to stand for hours or kneel. The source, who spoke of the risk of reprisals, said several inmates were beaten with batons and were unable to move their heads or speak in the facility.

Detainees are confined under severe physical restraints inside cages, the whistleblower said. Photography: Supplied

According to a report by Physicians for Human Rights (PHR), which demanded the closure of the camp, “since the beginning of the war, all detained Gaza residents have been classified as ‘illegal combatants,’ a classification that deprives them of prisoner status. of war, allowing Israel to prohibit visits by lawyers for long periods, leading to a lack of critical oversight during a period of heightened risk of severe incarceration conditions and torture.”

According to information obtained from the Israeli prison service dated early April, 849 individuals classified as “illegal combatants” were in custody.

The response of the Israeli authorities

Responding to the reports, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) said in a statement: “Among the detainees held at the Sde Teiman facility are highly dangerous military operatives. Detainees are handcuffed according to their level of risk and health status. Routine procedures are carried out to ensure that handcuffs are used in a manner that does not harm detainees… At the beginning of the war and following reports of injuries caused by handcuffs, the type of handcuffs in the facility were changed to reduce, as much as possible, possible resulting harm of the handcuffs.”

The IDF added that inmates had regular access to bathrooms located in the prison complex and that diapers were only used for those who had undergone medical procedures that limited their movements, with the aim of maintaining their hygiene.

The IDF stated that it treated detainees “appropriately and carefully” and that “any allegations of misconduct by IDF soldiers are examined and dealt with accordingly. In appropriate cases, criminal investigations are opened by the military police.”

By Lorenzo Tondo and Quique Kierszenbaum in Jerusalem
Thursday 23 May 2024, 14:02 BST
Originally published in The Guardian


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