Human rights orgs abandon PA's Arab torture victims

Report: 'Arabs tortured by Palestinian Authority learn that human rights groups are only interested in cases that harm Israel’s reputation.'

Mordechai Sones,

Torture (illustration)
Torture (illustration)
iStock

Fifty-two Israeli and Palestinian Authority (PA) Arabs, victims of torture at the hands of the PA, have recently won a lawsuit filed against the PA. A report by Yoni Ozery of the Institute of Zionist Strategies says that their lawyer approached a number of human rights organizations to provide medical specialists to help determine their damages for the next stage of the legal process. The response they received, according to the report, suggests that assistance from such groups would only be forthcoming for parties suing Israel.

In April 2017, Judge Moshe Yair Drori of the Jerusalem District Court ruled in the case dealing with the abduction, imprisonment, torture, rape, and murder of 52 Arabs suspected of collaborating with Israel. Drori held the Palestinian Authority responsible for damages they suffered.

According to Ozery, the victims represented in the trial have subsequently encountered difficulty in determining the level of compensation, being unable to locate and finance doctors willing to provide them with the professional assessment necessary for determining disability levels.

As a result, the law office representing the plaintiffs approached several human rights organizations, requesting assistance in finding specialists in a range of medical fields. The only response forthcoming to their appeal came from the Blue and White Human Rights Movement of the Institute for Zionist Strategies.

"The court's verdict published this July reveals an in-depth account of each of the plaintiffs and his circumstances. The resulting picture is one of widespread detentions throughout Judea and Samaria of those suspected of collaborating with Israel. The vicious torture described by the plaintiffs included beatings with metal wires and rubber pipes, cigarette burns, being hung for hours, and sleep- and food-deprivation. As a result, the plaintiffs sustained severe damage to both their physical and mental health," the report said.

“An Israeli court determined that the responsibility for the plaintiffs’ injures lies with the Palestinian Authority on which the court imposed obligation for paying damages”, said their lawyer, Attorney Barak Kedem, during an interview with 360. He also explained that medical specialists were now required to evaluate the victim’s disabilities and thereby enable the court to set damages.

Kedem revealed that due to the complexity of the sustained injuries, the cost of each victim’s examination may reach thousands of shekels, however no funding is forthcoming for this cause. “These are people who are suffering from a number of parallel disabilities – physical disability, psychiatric, urological, and others. Some are suffering from five or more disabilities and are therefore in need of experts to determine their overall disability profile.”

The lawyers turned to several human rights organizations in a plea for assistance. Generally, the request was either refused or simply ignored. “We need doctors to volunteer to examine the plaintiffs and also financial assistance to pay for their expenses”, Kedem stresses. “Thus far we have only received a response from the Blue and White Human Rights Movement, from the Honenu organization, and from the Public Committee Against Torture in Israel. The remaining organizations refused to help, claiming that they only assist Palestinians who sue the State of Israel.”

Institute for Zionist Strategies Blue and White Human Rights Movement Director Nave Dromi told 360 that the movement decided to assist the PA torture victims and attempted to interest specialist physicians in their case, only to face similar difficulties.

“We are a national-Zionist human rights organization which strives to show that it’s possible to be a human rights organization and love Israel,” Dromi explains.

“We already have doctors who cooperate and help us, but due to the large number of claims and cases, we tried to approach others with a request for assistance and were surprised to discover it wasn’t forthcoming. We were told: ‘You are a right-wing organization’, ‘you are extreme right-wing’, and there were also those who hinted that it bothers them that helping us may hurt the Palestinian Authority. We couldn’t believe that politics was being involved in this story too.”

According to Dromi, “This is a noble cause and we just didn’t expect their unwillingness to help."


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