Magazine article Washington Report on Middle East Affairs

Palestinian and Israeli Actions in Breaking Up Hamas Cell in Tsurif Reopen Issue of Israeli Torture of Prisoners

Magazine article Washington Report on Middle East Affairs

Palestinian and Israeli Actions in Breaking Up Hamas Cell in Tsurif Reopen Issue of Israeli Torture of Prisoners

Article excerpt

PALESTINIAN AND ISRAELI ACTIONS IN BREAKING UP HAMAS CELL IN TSURIF REOPEN ISSUE OF ISRAELI TORTURE OF PRISONERS

A Hamas cell in Tsurif -- an historically militant West Bank village near Hebron -- has been broken up after a series of events that appear to have involved high-level intelligence and security cooperation between Palestinian and Israeli security services.

Last November, two members of the Tsurif cell whom Palestinian authorities had detained for questioning were "captured" from the Palestinian police by their Israeli counterparts as they approached a West Bank checkpoint. Palestinian authorities deny they handed the two men over to Israel but their lawyer, Allegra Pacheco, says events leading up to the prisoners' transfer, as well as the prisoners' own statements, indicate that it was well planned.

Many West Bank Palestinians, especially residents of Tsurif, regard the PA transfer of Gamal al-Hur and Abed al-Rahman Ghanimat from Palestinian to Israeli custody as an unacceptable breach of confidence, while Israeli authorities hail it as the biggest catch of the decade. The two prisoners thought they were being transferred to another jail in the West Bank when the van they travelled in was stopped by Israeli soldiers, who called out their names and took them without a struggle. The two members of the Izzadeen al-Kassam brigade, the military wing of Hamas, said that waiting Shabak (Israeli internal security service) agents cheered when they were brought into custody.

During their nearly four-month interrogation period, they were held in small, windowless cells with open toilets from which they never left except to see their lawyer or to go to court. They saw no daylight and had no exercise; they were allowed no reading material except for the Qur'an and they were not permitted facilities to shave, cut their hair or change their underwear. …

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