Justice Ministry Says Torture Reports under Investigation
TEL AVIV, Israel (AP) _ The Justice Ministry said Tuesday it was investigating reports by Amnesty International that Arab prisoners were tortured in Israeli-occupied territories and south Lebanon.
A Justice Ministry statement said the complaints concerning prisoners in the West Bank and Gaza Strip were ″under investigation ... and the Justice Ministry will make every effort to expedite handling of the matter.″
In a report released in London, the human rights organization accused Israel of failing to respond to its appeals to investigate complaints that some prisoners were beaten, prevented from sleeping, suffocated and subjected to ice-cold showers.
The report gave details about a prisoner from Gaza named Adnan Mansour Ghanem, who was held without charges and deported last February to Jordan.
The Justice Ministry statement denied responsibility for allegations of torture in the Khiam detention center, located inside Israel’s self-proclaime d security zone in Lebanon, just north of the border.
The Amnesty International report said Israelis supervised interrogations by the South Lebanon Army, an Israeli-backed militia, at the Khiam prison.
Attorney Yehoshua Shifman of the Association for Civil Rights in Israel was quoted in the English-language Jerusalem Post as saying that he wrote to Defense Minister Yitzhak Rabin in December about the Khiam complaints and received no reply.
Israel’s military command also said it was checking the complaints. But an unidentified official quoted on Israel army radio rejected the allegations and said ″they are being made to malign Israel.″
Israeli Prime Minister Shimon Peres, appearing on the NBC-TV program ″Today,″ said Tuesday that he had not heard of the Amnesty International report. As for the allegations, Peres said, ″I can tell you with all responsibility that this is out of the question.″