Victim reveals Israel's regime of torture

For 47 days Omar Ghanimat was tortured in an Israeli prison, his open wounds allowed to fester, while the Israeli press denounced him as "a ticking bomb," a man whose mistreatment was justified because he knew about forthcoming attacks on civilian targets.

This week Mr Ghanimat, 45, with seven children, was sentenced to only three months in prison, a tacit admission by the prosecutor that he had committed no serious offence.

Human rights lawyers say his case proves that Palestinian prisoners are routinely tortured by the Israeli security forces and not only when they are suspected of knowing of an attack.

"It was the worst case of torture I have seen in Israel," says Allegra Pacheco, Mr Ghanimat's lawyer, who saw him in the Russian compound prison in Jerusalem after eight weeks of continuous interrogation.

"His hands and legs had swelled to bubbles because there were tight handcuffs on both. There were gashes on his arms and some of them were pussy and bleeding."

Mr Ghanimat was arrested in the village of Tzurif, north of Hebron, on 10 April after Israeli security (Shin Bet) rounded up a cell of Izzedin Kassam, the military arm of the militant Islamic group Hamas.

The cell was responsible for planting a bomb in a cafe in Tel Aviv in which three women were killed. Mr Ghanimat had the same last name as the bomber, but was not related to him (though the Israeli press reported that he was his brother).

Israeli security is usually careful to use methods of torture which do not use marks.

In Mr Ghanimat's case they were less inhibited. Ms Pacheco, who works for LAW, a Palestinian human rights group, says this may have been because he did not at first have a lawyer.

Always tightly handcuffed, so blood could not reach his hands, a dirty sack placed over his head and deprived of sleep for long periods, he says he was kicked and beaten until he could not walk.

In a painfully written affidavit on 27 May, the first time he saw his lawyer, Mr Ghanimat wrote how one of his interrogators called "Captain Tariq" sat "on a small chair, placed it on my chest ... and jumped from the chair onto my chest causing me severe pain." Another, called "the Major," pulled me "from under the chair, which caused injuries to my legs".

Although he screamed with pain continually and was bleeding, a prison doctor who saw him prescribed only the equivalent of Vicks for his chest.

During his interrogation, Mr Ghanimat was continually asked to confess to being a member of Izzedin Kassam. Desperate to end the torture he admitted that in 1994 an Israeli had come to Tzurif with a stolen car in which he and a friend had found a gun. They hid it and the friend had later handed over the weapon to Palestinian security.

His interrogators seemed uninterested in this.

Mr Ghanimat says one of them said to him: "Torture is like the waves of the sea - that which is to come is more severe than that which has passed."

Shocked by what she had seen, Ms Pacheco appealed to the Israeli High Court under its president Aharon Barak to ask for a court order to stop the torture. The court allowed Mr Ghanimat to come to court and show his wounds. Photographers were allowed to photograph them. At first Mr Ghanimat would not speak in front of Shin Bet interrogators, saying: "I can't. They'll kill me when we get back to prison." Mr Barak then told the Shin Bet officers to leave the court.

After Mr Ghanimat described what had happened the State Attorney said that "at this stage" no more physical pressure would be placed on him. He returned to the Russian Compound where the Shin Bet made him write out a confession about the gun in the stolen car, a technical offence for which he has just received three months in prison. He is to be released on 9 July.

In May the UN Committee against Torture decided that Israel, by permitting its security forces to use "moderate physical pressure" against prisoners, legalises torture.

It singled out seven methods of interrogation, such as the use of cold air to chill prisoners, sleep deprivation, sacks over the head, shackling in painful positions and, violent shaking (which has the same effect as a whiplash injury in a car crash) as breaching the UN Convention against Torture.

Snoop Dogg pictured at The Hollywood Reporter Nominees' Night in February, 2013
people... says Snoop Dogg
Life and Style
fashion Designs are part of feminist art project by a British student
Life and Style
food + drinkZebra meat is exotic and lean - but does it taste good?
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Arts and Entertainment
Residents of Derby Road in Southampton oppose filming of Channel 4 documentary Immigration Street in their community
Scottish singer Susan Boyle will perform at the Commonwealth Games opening ceremony in Glasgow
commonwealth games
Lane Del Rey performing on the Pyramid Stage at Glastonbury 2014
people... but none of them helped me get a record deal, insists Lana Del Rey
Arts and Entertainment
Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson stars in Hercules
filmReview: The Rock is a muscular Davy Crockett in this preposterous film, says Geoffrey Macnab
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

IT Portfolio Analyst/ PMO

£40000 - £50000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

Systems Analyst (Technical, UML, UI)

£30000 - £40000 Per Annum + excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Lt...

Cost Reporting-MI Packs-Edinburgh-Bank-£350/day

£300 - £350 per day + competitive: Orgtel: Cost Reporting Manager - MI Packs -...

Senior Private Client Solicitor - Gloucestershire

Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: Senior Private Client Solicitor - We are makin...

Day In a Page

Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy': A land of the outright bizarre

Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy'

A land of the outright bizarre
What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

‘Weird Al’ Yankovic's latest video is an ode to good grammar. But what do The Independent’s experts think he’s missed out?
Can Secret Cinema sell 80,000 'Back to the Future' tickets?

The worst kept secret in cinema

A cult movie event aims to immerse audiences of 80,000 in ‘Back to the Future’. But has it lost its magic?
Facebook: The new hatched, matched and dispatched

The new hatched, matched and dispatched

Family events used to be marked in the personal columns. But now Facebook has usurped the ‘Births, Deaths and Marriages’ announcements
Why do we have blood types?

Are you my type?

All of us have one but probably never wondered why. Yet even now, a century after blood types were discovered, it’s a matter of debate what they’re for
Honesty box hotels: You decide how much you pay

Honesty box hotels

Five hotels in Paris now allow guests to pay only what they think their stay was worth. It seems fraught with financial risk, but the honesty policy has its benefit
Commonwealth Games 2014: Why weight of pressure rests easy on Michael Jamieson’s shoulders

Michael Jamieson: Why weight of pressure rests easy on his shoulders

The Scottish swimmer is ready for ‘the biggest race of my life’ at the Commonwealth Games
Some are reformed drug addicts. Some are single mums. All are on benefits. But now these so-called 'scroungers’ are fighting back

The 'scroungers’ fight back

The welfare claimants battling to alter stereotypes
Amazing video shows Nasa 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action

Fireballs in space

Amazing video shows Nasa's 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action
A Bible for billionaires

A Bible for billionaires

Find out why America's richest men are reading John Brookes
Paranoid parenting is on the rise - and our children are suffering because of it

Paranoid parenting is on the rise

And our children are suffering because of it
For sale: Island where the Magna Carta was sealed

Magna Carta Island goes on sale

Yours for a cool £4m
Phone hacking scandal special report: The slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

The hacker's tale: the slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

Glenn Mulcaire was jailed for six months for intercepting phone messages. James Hanning tells his story in a new book. This is an extract
We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

Child abusers are not all the same, yet the idea of treating them differently in relation to the severity of their crimes has somehow become controversial
The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

For instance, did Isis kill the Israeli teenagers to trigger a war, asks Patrick Cockburn