Saturday, May 25, 2024

Palestinian detainees subjected to ‘sexual violence’ by Israel: UNRWA

A report from the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) on the treatment of Palestinian detainees found that in “most” reported incidents, the Israeli army forced males, both men and boys, to “strip down” to their underwear.

“Both men and women reported threats and incidents that may amount to sexual violence and harassment by the [Israeli army] while in detention. Male victims reported beatings to their genitals while one detainee reported being made to sit on an electrical probe,” the report said.

The report added that female detainees had also described “psychological abuse”.

The UNRWA announced that since early April, Israeli soldiers have released 1,506 detainees from Gaza through the Karem Abu Salem (Kerem Shalom) crossing point.

Those released included 43 children and 84 women. Among them were 16 family members of UNRWA staff and “326 Gazan labourers working in Israel”.

Following the launch of Israel’s ground offensive in Gaza in October, reports emerged of Palestinians being detained.

During their detention, many reported “ill-treatment”.

“This included being subjected to beatings while made to lie on a thin mattress on top of rubble for hours without food, water or access to a toilet, with their legs and hands bound with plastic ties,” the report found.

“Several detainees reported being forced into cages and attacked by dogs. Some released detainees, including a child, had dog-bite wounds on their body,” it said.

The report added that some detainees were threatened with extended detention times, injury or the deaths of family members if they did not give authorities the information they wanted.

Gaza’s Government Media Office has called on rights groups and the international community to “take action” after hearing “horrifying” testimonies from a large number of freed Palestinians who were recently detained by Israeli troops.

The testimonies include accounts from children younger than 12 years old and describe “extreme torture, mistreatment and cases of medical neglect”, the office said.

“These testimonies from the affected individuals prove yet again the monstrosity of this criminal army,” the office noted.

“It is yet another example of how it [the Israeli military] violates international and humanitarian laws as it continues committing war crimes and genocide against our people in Gaza,” it added.

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