Abu Gosh is a Palestinian man arrestet and interrogated by the Israeli authorities in 2007. He was arrested and transferred to an interrogation facility of the ISA. His interrogation lasted 37 days, during which he was banned from seeing his attorney or any other person (incommunicado detention). He was kept in a small cell with constant yellow light on. The interrogation included severe physical and mental violence, including beatings, being thrown against a wall, stress positions, arching and tying the body in the “banana” position, bending back fingers, sleep deprivation, and extreme psychological pressure.
Some of these methods, specifically sleep deprivation, were explicitly banned in the Israeli HCJ in 1999. These methods are also accepted as torture by the International Convention Against Torture which Israel has signed and ratified.
Inspite of the court’s ruling, the methods used on Abu Gosh are not unheard of. PCATI was exposed to the use of such methods over and over again in thousands of testimonies in complaints by Palestinian torture victims. Lawyers representing Jewish ISA interrogees reported similar methods in 2015. Since 2001 over 1,100 complaints of torture victims were sent to the Attorney General, demanding a criminal investigation into the allegations. To date, no such investigation was ordered.
After receiving a negative response from the state to our request to open a criminal investigation in Abu Gosh’s case, PCATI presented a petition to .the HCJ in 2012.
Abu Gosh’ case is uniqe in that matter, because the state of Israel does not deny the means that were used on Abu Gosh, but refuses to define them as torture. PCATI has recruited supporting statements from international legal experts and health experts, supporting Abu Gosh’s claims that he was indeed tortured.
Last September, after 5 years in court, the last hearing took place. This hearing included a very unusual discussion. For the first time in 18 years the question of “who defines torture?” and “who has the authority to declare certain interrogation methods as torture and therefore illegal?” were raised in the HCJ. The state argued that Mr. Abu Ghosh was a “ticking bomb”, and that the methods used do not amount to torture. Judge Uri Shoham said in the hearing that there is no equation justifying the use of torture with great necessity. President of the Court Naor added that there is no debate that torture is forbidden and stated: “Torture cannot occur. Necessity does not justify torture”. In spite of the clear-cut statements regarding the prohibition on torture, the HCJ emphasized that the court is not in the habit of overturning decisions of the Attorney General.