“The International Day in Support of Victims of Torture is an occasion to underscore the internationally recognized right of all men and women to live free from torture.
It is an opportunity to reaffirm our collective commitment to prohibit torture and all cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment or punishment.
” - United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, Message for the International Day in Support of Victims of Torture 2010.
 Al Mezan Center for Human Rights' (hereinafter Al Mezan) documentation of human rights violations in the Gaza Strip indicates that the Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) have used torture and other forms of cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment against the Palestinians of Gaza during the period covered by this report.
In Israel, a deeply-entrenched reality of impunity is prevalent, which hinders justice but also sanctions torture and other forms of cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment (T/CIDT) of Palestinians.
These actions are in complete violation of international human rights law (IHRL) and international humanitarian law (IHL), both of which are applicable in the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt).
In April 2009, Al Mezan began a joint project with the Adalah: The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel and Physicians for Human Rights-Israel (PHR-I) and funded by the European Commission with the aim to combat T/CIDT by Israel against the Palestinians.
Al Mezan is responsible for monitoring and documenting Israeli violations related to torture and ill-treatment against the Palestinian population of the oPt with a focus on the Gaza Strip.
This report presents Al Mezan's findings of its documentation under this project.
The identification of incidents and/or practices that fall under torture and CIDT is mainly guided by the jurisprudence of the Committee Against Torture (CAT) and the Human Rights Committee (HRC).
There is also an attempt to provide new trends, which may not fall under the strict definition of T/CIDT; however, certain components of these practices might constitute ill treatment.
These practices are mentioned in a separate section.
Bearing in mind the special situation of the oPt, particularly the Gaza Strip where Israel has continued to exercise a high level of effective control over the territory, there exists a combination of practices and policies that violate the absolute prohibition of T/CIDT which exists in international law.
This includes detaining Palestinians, including patients and fishermen, and exercising torture and ill-treatment against them.
Israel lifts basic legal protections owed to Palestinians to detainees.
Many of those are treated as ‘unlawful combatants’.
Israeli law allows for prolonged detention of Palestinians without proper judicial oversight or meeting with a legal counsel.
In Gaza, the IOF restricts patients’ access to medical treatment outside the Gaza Strip.
Moreover, during incursions into the Gaza Strip, the IOF uses civilians as human shields and destroys homes for many reasons, including as punishment.
Restrictions on the movement of civilians’ from and into Gaza, frequently when access is needed to meet humanitarian needs, also causes severe suffering.
This report provides information documented by Al Mezan on these types of practices that occurred in the Gaza Strip during the first and second project years, i.
the period from 1 May 2009 to 30 April 2011 inclusive.
The first section of the report presents information about the employment of T/CIDT against Palestinians who are detained by the IOF, including children, fishermen and patients.
The second section covers practices that are linked to Israel’s closure and blockade of the Gaza Strip, which produces violations that constitute T/CIDT.
This includes denial of patients’ access to healthcare outside the Gaza Strip, but also the treatment of patients when they come in contact with the Israeli security forces, particularly at Erez crossing.
The report notices that patients are frequently coerced, that is, asked to provide information to the Israeli intelligence agency (the Shabak) under the threat that they will not be granted permission to access healthcare if they refuse to comply.
This section also provides information about home demolitions and forced displacement in Gaza.
In the third section, new trends in human rights violations are raised, which, while they may not clearly fall under the definition of T/CIDT, frequently cause severe pain and suffering for civilians and, therefore, merit investigation to consider if they contain components which amount to T/CIDT.
This includes prohibition of humanitarian access and the treatment of civilians near the borderline between the Gaza Strip and Israel, including civilians and farmers who protest forced displacement and civilians who have been impoverished by the closure and blockade and now survive by collecting gravel and other materials.
The report ends with a brief legal analysis and recommendations to international community.
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