Geneva - The Israeli army introduced groups of Israeli civilians into detention centres and prisons holding Palestinian prisoners and detainees from the Gaza Strip, permitting the civilians to witness torture crimes against the detainees, with many allowed to film them on their own phones.

Euro-Med Human Rights Monitor received shocking testimonies from recently released Palestinian prisoners and detainees, in which they reported that the Israeli army invited a number of Israeli civilians during their interrogation sessions to witness torture and inhumane treatment, to which they were deliberately subjected in the presence of the civilians.

Arrested during ground incursions by Israeli army forces into the Strip, the prisoners and detainees were held for varying periods of time inside two detention centres: one located in the Zikim area on the northern border of the Gaza Strip, and another affiliated with the Naqab prison in southern Israel.

The released detainees told Euro-Med Monitor that the Israeli soldiers had purposefully presented them before Israeli civilians, falsely claiming that they were fighters affiliated with Palestinian armed factions and that they had taken part in the 7 October attack on Israeli towns on Gaza Strip borders.

According to testimony received by Euro-Med Monitor, groups of ten to twenty Israeli civilians at a time were permitted to watch and laughingly film Palestinian prisoners and detainees in their underwear while Israeli army soldiers subjected them to physical abuse, including beating them with metal batons, electric sticks, and pouring hot water on their heads. The detainees were also verbally abused.

This is the first time that these illegal practices have come to the attention of Euro-Med Monitor. It adds a new crime to the list of those committed by the Israeli army against Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, and specifically against prisoners and detainees who are subjected to cruel torture, enforced disappearances, arbitrary arrests, and denials of a fair trial, among other atrocities.

Palestinian Omar Abu Mudallala, 43, told the Euro-Med Monitor team: “I was arrested at the checkpoint set up near the Kuwait roundabout, which separates Gaza City from the central region, as part of the Israeli random arrest campaigns. I was subjected to all types of torture and abuse for approximately 52 days,” pointing out that Israeli soldiers “brought Israeli civilians to watch our nude torture.”

Abu Mudallala added: “The Israeli army brought a number of Israeli civilians into our detention centres while beating us and telling them, ‘These are Hamas terrorists who killed you and raped your women on 7 October,’ while the Israeli civilians were filming us being beaten, abused, and tortured while making fun of us.”

"This happened five times while I was being held. The first time was in Barkasat Zikim, where we were blindfolded. However, one of the detainees who speaks Hebrew told us that the soldiers were interacting with Israeli civilians claiming that we were armed fighters. The other four incidents took place in the Negev detention facility, where successive Israeli groups were taken inside tents to witness our abuse and record the torture methods we were subjected to without allowing us to speak or interact with them. Since we were not wearing blindfolds at the time, I saw them all four times with my own eyes."

Abu Mudallalasaid that "one of the detainees who speaks Hebrew tried to explain to the Israeli civilians that we are civilians and we had nothing to do with any military activities, but that also did not help. However, he was subjected to severe psychological and physical torture. It was really shameful to bring Israeli citizens to record our torture for being allegedly involved in killing and rape incidents."

Forty-two-year-old D.H. also told Euro-Med Monitor: "Israeli civilians were brought to witness the abuse and torture that we were subjected to, which the army deliberately began when they were present. These Israelis sometimes brought their dogs with them to bark on us. They also took pictures of us and post them on social media apps, particularly "TikTok," with the soldiers themselves did the same.”

Euro-Med Monitor was taken aback by the evident falsity of the Israeli army's claim that the Palestinian civilians subjected to torture in the presence of Israeli civilians were fighters involved in the October 7 attack – when the subsequent release of the detainees serves as proof that this narrative is untrue and was intended as a means of exacting revenge on Palestinian civilians and attacking their dignity.

According to Euro-Med Monitor, the Israeli army's torture and inhumane treatment of Palestinian prisoners and detainees is illegal under the Rome Statute and constitutes crimes against humanity. The army's staging of these abuses as entertainment for Israeli civilians and subsequent photography of the victims amounts to a grave violation of the dignity of these individuals, as well as the commission of war crimes.

Euro-Med Monitor warns of the dire consequences of introducing Israeli civilians into arrest and detention centres, displaying Palestinian detainees to them during torture, and letting them use their personal phones to document these inhumane practices. This is a retaliatory approach that falls within the framework of promoting  false Israeli propaganda, perpetuating a state of extremism, fueling hatred, and inflaming Israeli public opinion to incite more crimes and rights violations against Palestinians.

Euro-Med Human Rights Monitor asserts that the vast majority of those arrested from within the Gaza Strip have been subjected to arbitrary detention without being charged or brought to justice, with no legal measures taken against them. They are also denied a fair trial and are subjected to forced disappearance, torture, and inhumane treatment. Euro-Med Monitor calls on the International Committee of the Red Cross to inspect Israeli detention centres and prisons holding Palestinian prisoners and detainees, investigate the horrific violations and crimes they are subjected to, and work to bring these conditions to light immediately.

Furthermore, Euro-Med Monitor asserts that Israeli practices against Palestinian detainees are blatant violations of international conventions and standards, particularly the 1949 Fourth Geneva Convention, which forbids an occupying authority from transferring prisoners from the occupied territory to detention facilities on its territory, as well as torturing, attacking, or otherwise degrading the human dignity of those detained.