Palestinian Police officer (illustrative)
Palestinian Police officer (illustrative)Nati Shohat/Flash90

Two Israeli Arab brothers arrested in Bitunia by the Palestinian Authority (PA) on suspicion of growing marijuana a month ago, have finally been released. The brothers claimed that during their interrogations they were tortured. Among other devices used, the brothers claimed that they were tied up and hung upside down.

According to the brothers’ claims, the two were arrested four weeks ago by PA police officers near Ramallah, and kept in the PA police headquarters. Their arrests were made known to the IDF  only two weeks ago.

The brothers, who are Israeli Arab citizens, were transferred to Israeli custody two days ago at the Checkpoint outside of Ramallah that is close to Beit El and the IDF's COGAT command center for the Binyamin region. They were taken by Israeli police for questioning. After their initial questioning, Israeli police brought the brothers to a Jerusalem district court and requested that they be released to house arrest for a period of  twenty days. The Judge granted house arrest until the beginning of the new calendar year.

The family is furious that the brothers were at the mercy of PA police officers for more than a month and that there was no intervention from any Israeli authoritative body for the entire period. According to the family’s attorney, Faras Mustafa Ali, the family feels that the Israeli Police and COGAT would have acted differently had the brothers been Jewish.  

Israeli sources refute the claims that they ignored the plight of the brothers. “The family submitted a complaint to the Judea and Samaria division that their children had been arrested by PA police. Upon contacting the PA, Israeli police forces were told that the brothers own an apartment in Ramallah, in which they built a marijuana growing facility. The PA police said that they were stopped numerous times in the past for criminal offences committed. Officers from Judea and Samaria District Police contacted the PA numerous times to arrange for the transfer of the brothers, and even attempted to get other security forces involved. After 29 days in PA custody, the brothers were transferred to the Judea and Samaria Division of the Israeli Police, with evidence linking them to the ownership and growing of marijuana. By law they were questioned by Israeli police before being brought to an Israeli court.”

A spokesperson for COGAT said: “These two brothers entered the Palestinian Authority at their own wishes, and proceeded to participate in illegal activity with Palestinian citizens. Their actions and subsequent arrests were brought to our attention after two weeks of their detention. From that point onwards COGAT worked on all levels to attain their release.” According to COGAT the interaction with the family was conducted by the Israeli Police, and that no claims of torture had been brought to their attention.