IDF official slams Australian report suggesting Palestinian kids were tortured

My colleague Tamar Sternthal published a superb response at CAMERA to wild allegations in a Feb. 10th Australia Broadcasting Corporation Four Corners” report concerning the alleged torture of Palestinian children during interrogation.  

Here’s an excerpt:

“Simply fictitious,” responded a senior Israel Defense Forces official when asked about allegations leveled in a Feb. 10, 2014 Australia Broadcasting Corporation “Four Corners” report concerning brutal torture of Palestinian children during interrogations.

In contravention of journalistic codes of ethics, reporter John Lyons never gave Israeli officials the opportunity to respond specifically to the alleged instances of extreme abuse described. CAMERA, therefore, checked with Israeli authorities, reaching a high-level official intimately knowledgeable about the minors interviewed in the “Stone Cold Justice” broadcast.

One of them, Fathi Mahfouz, who was arrested on April 10, 2013 at the age of 15, and held for 82 days, claimed on camera that during his interrogation he had been hung from a cross-like structure for hours and beaten, and had been subjected to hitting and electric batons.

Another child, Qsai Zamara, alleged that his 18-day nightmare at the age of 14 included an interrogation in which he was whipped with a hose and threatened with electrocution.

About these two children, the IDF official stressed that they had never made these claims in court. Mahfouz appeared in court one day after his April 10 arrest, and he returned to court again on April 14 when he entered into a plea bargain, confessing to the crime for which he had been indicted, which was throwing rocks at military vehicles and personnel from a distance of 15 meters during a wide scale demonstration. During these two appearances, he never raised any allegations of being suspended from a cross or being beaten. “The only claim [of abuse] he made in court was on the 14th that the border policeman who arrested him in some way injured him and the court ordered that a protocol of a hearing be sent to the internal affairs office of the police, part of the Justice Ministry, for investigation.”

“Never once did he make a claim regarding his interrogation at any stage,” added the official, who confirmed that Mahfouz was represented by a lawyer in court.

Similarly, Zamara never voiced claims of torture during his court appearances. He was arrested on April 22, 2013, and brought to court the following day for a remand hearing in which he was represented by a lawyer. Three pages of arguments were made on the April 23 hearing, and “never once does he mention the terrible torture he [later said he] was subjected to.” On April 25, he again appeared in court when his indictment was filed. Any alleged torture that took place during interrogations would have happened in this window of time, and yet “never once had Zamara claimed that he had been so viciously attacked or tortured.”

It’s unbelievable that now, 10 months afterwards, he’s making these amazing claims of what happened to him,” stated the incredulous official.

Read the rest of Sternthal’s post, here.

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