For the first time, an Israeli court has ruled that the Palestinian Authority committed torture and other serious crimes against PA residents who assisted Israel with information or intelligence. According to the ruling by a Yerushalayim court, the PA kidnapped and tortured the Arabs, and caused the death of at least 50 people for the “crime” of aiding Israeli intelligence to prevent terror attacks.
The ruling is the result of a lawsuit by several dozen PA Arabs who survived the torture they endured. They contacted Israeli attorneys, among them Barak Kedem, who has been representing several of the victims in the lawsuit, details of which were first released on Army Radio Thursday. Speaking to Army Radio, Kedem praised the ruling, saying that “the state is obligated to defend the people who helped us. This is the time we need to ensure that they get the money coming to them for pain and suffering.”
Witnesses testified on forms of torture they suffered at the hands of the PA, including beatings, ripping off fingernails, being tied to a moving vehicle and dragged on the ground, and even sessions on “the rack,” a modern-day version of the medieval torture device used in the Spanish Inquisition. Dozens of the Arabs were killed by order of their torturers on the spot, with no due process, trial or appeal.
One of the victims told Army Radio that he was arrested and accused of working with the Shin Bet, and immediately “questioned,” with beatings in a special room where various instruments of torture were located. “You cannot imagine how cruel the interrogators were,” he said. “They would light fires and burn parts of your body. They would break a bottle and force you to sit on it. They would light a copper wire and poke you in various sensitive parts of the body.” The victim, who did not give his name, said he had been held for three years. He was able to get out only by paying a bribe of NIS 250,000 to a guard. He managed to escape to Israel and now lives in Tel Aviv.
With the decision, the court will now consider the amount of compensation the victims will get. The PA did not send a representative to the court, and had not bothered to pay court costs, so far amounting to some NIS 500,000. Attorneys for the victims plan to contact government and IDF officials to demand that the compensation money be deducted from payments Israel makes to the PA for tax and customs collection, out of fear that the PA will ignore a judgment to pay the victims.