By TOI staff for TimesOfIsrael.com, December 13, 2018 –
A Palestinian man this week attended a Knesset meeting and described torture he was subjected to while in the Palestinian Authority’s custody for collaborating with Israel and preventing terror attacks. In rare Knesset discussion, Walid says he and other suspected collaborators were forced to carry heavy cinder blocks; official says government seeking to up pressure on Ramallah.
Tearful and angry, the man recounted his detention during an unusual discussion on Tuesday at an Interior Committee discussion that dealt with Israelis and Palestinian collaborators arrested by the PA, which was called following the arrest of a different man, Isaam Akel, two months ago on suspicion of selling land to Jews.
“I got the death sentence for stopping blood [from being spilled], from stopping terror attacks,” said the man, identified only by his first name, Walid.
“Thanks to that, children are being raised and weren’t killed, and I did the job,” he added. “The punishment I received was the death sentence, because I wanted peace rather than terror attacks.”
According to Walid, he and others were subjected to torture.
“They take you to a room and have you work in their construction, pick up five, seven cinder blocks and go up to the fifth floor,” he said. “On all the stairs there are Palestinian soldiers. If you take a break, they hit you. You go up and back down again. They open the sewage and tell you to go down there.”
After the discussion, MK Bezalel Smotrich of the religious right-wing Jewish Home party, who chaired it, slammed what he said was inaction by human rights groups and the government on the matter.
“Had this interested the prime minister and defense minister [Benjamin Netanyahu], nobody would’ve pushed the matter to the Knesset, to private bills,” he said.
“This is the most immoral thing that is happening. We are abandoning them to be tortured and raped without the intervention of the High Court of Justice or [rights group] B’Tselem,” Smotrich charged.
“We are responsible, in light of international conventions and our morality as the Jewish people,” he concluded. “This is a serious moral stain on the State of Israel.”
During the meeting, a senior official in the National Security Council (NSC) said the government was mulling ways to pressure the PA to release Akel and Nasser a-Din, another Israeli resident of East Jerusalem who has been in Ramallah’s custody since April on suspicion of involvement in murder.
Amit Aviram, head of the NSC’s internal policy division, said his organization was conducting “constant” discussions with members of all relevant defense organizations regarding ways to release Akel and a-Din, including upping the pressure.
He didn’t elaborate on the nature of the steps Israel was taking or considering taking.
Attention was recently drawn to the Palestinian Authority’s outlawing of selling land to Israeli Jews in light of Israel’s arrest last month of the PA’s Jerusalem governor. Adnan Ghaith is reportedly suspected of abducting a Palestinian-American resident of East Jerusalem who was accused of selling property to Jews.
Ghaith, who was among 32 East Jerusalem residents arrested on suspicion of supporting and serving in the PA security forces, was ordered released by the Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court on Sunday.
Israeli law bars East Jerusalem Palestinians from working with the PA security forces, Ghaith’s lawyer said.
On Saturday, Palestinian media reported that an Arab Israeli man killed in his home town of Jaljulia in central Israel was involved in the sale of West Bank land to Jews.