On Wednesday, February 15, the Knesset held a session titled “Not in a democracy: 50 years of occupation.” The session was initiated by MKs Ksenia Svetlova, Michal Rozin, Dov Hanin and Ayman Odeh. Representatives of human rights organizations and anti-occupation organizations spoke at the event. Among them was the Committee’s director, Rachel Stroumsa, who said: “I debated what to share with you today. Should I tell about the young man from Hebron who was held in solitary confinement for 30 days, was interrogated by the Shin Bet, and then could not stand on his own legs? Or should I tell about the religious woman from Nablus who was sexually harassed in an interrogation? I debated if I should share these shocking stories, or should I instead focus on the system that doesn’t investigate the complaints we and others submit? Should I talk about the fact that in the last 15 years not even one criminal investigation was initiated, even though more than 1,000 complaints about the use of torture in the Shin Bet had been submitted? I thought that perhaps I should speak about the lack of protection for detainees who are subjected to violence. About doctors who see bruised detainees and do not document or report such incidents. Or maybe about the judge, who, instead of protecting a detainee, explains to him that the torture used against him – inflicted on his body and his soul – is justified?
I cannot say: ‘this one thing is the most important thing.’ We have a whole system here in which every procedure and every law and every “exceptional” circumstance enables the infliction of severe pain and suffering on detainees. We cannot separate things and say, ‘it’s just one unit,’ or ‘it’s just one interrogator,’ or ‘just one paramedic.’ The entire huge machine that sustains the occupation contributes in its entirety to making torture possible and providing immunity to the security forces that participate in the violence. Moreover, the Israeli society’s ability to be complacent about torture under the pretext of occupation, to turn our gaze away from this uncomfortable reality – this is what allows torture to continue. The occupation did not invent torture. But the occupation provides legal and procedural machines that enable torture; that nourish and nurture brutality. In the Committee Against Torture we see how the military courts system, the many “exceptions” in military legislation, the lack of effective regulatory procedures, how these encourage and create more and more sanctioned and authorized violence.”