Palestinian security agents have been torturing supporters of the Hamas movement in their custody in the West Bank in cooperation with the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), a report says.
Some western diplomats, together with regional officials, say that the relationship between the CIA and the two Palestinian agencies involved – Preventive Security Organization (PSO) and General Intelligence Service (GI) – is so close that the American agency appears to be supervising the Palestinians’ work, according to a report published in The Guardian newspaper.
“The [Central Intelligence] Agency considers them as their property, those two Palestinian services,” one senior western official said. A diplomatic source added that US influence over the agencies was so great they could be considered “an advanced arm of the war on terror.”
Details of the cooperation between the CIA and Palestinian security agents comes to light as continuing use of torture, as well as abusive interrogations, in the occupied West bank has been widely documented by human rights groups, the report added.
Most of those held without trial and allegedly tortured in the West Bank have been supporters of Hamas, which won a large majority in the Palestinian parliament in January 2006, it went on to note.
The most common mistreatment, according to the report, is that detainees are severely beaten and subjected to a torture known as ‘shabeh’, during which they are shackled and forced to assume painful positions for long periods.
There have also been reports of sleep deprivation, and of large numbers of detainees being crammed into small cells to prevent rest.
Almost all the detainees enter a system of military justice under which they need not be brought before a court for six months. This flagrantly violates the prisoners’ rights since their cases should, in actual fact, be brought before civilian courts.
According to Palestinian Authority officials, between 400 and 500 Hamas supporters are currently held by the PSO and GI.