Gaza ex-detainee reveals forced nudity ordeal in 'Israeli' detention

Palestine

Published: 2024-02-22 11:50

Last Updated: 2024-04-20 22:52


Two women crying in Gaza. (Unrelated to story)
Two women crying in Gaza. (Unrelated to story)

A Palestinian woman from Gaza has come forward with harrowing details of the torture she endured during her time in Israeli Occupation detention, shortly after being released from Israeli Occupation prisons.

The 31-year-old former prisoner, who resided with her siblings in northern Gaza, described being forced to strip multiple times, echoing accounts from United Nations experts who recently exposed the abuse and harassment suffered by female detainees, including forced nudity and reports of rape.

In her testimony published by the Palestinian Center for Human Rights, the woman recounted the trauma she experienced during the Israeli Occupation bombardment of Gaza, which prompted her to seek shelter at various locations, including schools.

"On the first day of the attack on Gaza, the bombing started around our area, including homes, which instilled fear and panic in me," she said.

She detailed how she and her family sought refuge at different schools, only to face further bombardment, leading them to move to another school in Jabalia refugee camp. However, the violence persisted, with Israeli Occupation forces targeting their makeshift shelters with white smoke bombs and artillery fire.

"Israeli forces bombarded the school, causing a fire that spread to the tents inside," she recalled.

She described the chaos and confusion as they evacuated the school following Israeli Occuption warnings, eventually deciding to flee southward on foot towards the Nitzana checkpoint, where they encountered Israeli Occuption soldiers.

"When we arrived, Israeli soldiers ordered evacuees to sit on the ground and wait. We waited for half an hour before they asked us to move through the checkpoint, maintaining distance between each other," she said.

The woman recounted being interrogated and harassed by Israeli Occuption soldiers, who demanded she strip naked and subjected her to verbal abuse. She described being humiliated and degraded as soldiers rifled through her belongings and ordered her to enter a tent for inspection.

"I was ordered to undress completely, including my underwear, and shake out my clothes before tossing them on the ground. Then, I was handcuffed and blindfolded, and made to sit on a sandy hill," she recalled.

After enduring hours of interrogation and mistreatment, she was transported to a detention center, where she was stripped of her clothes and given a gray pajama without underwear or a hijab. She was then shackled and blindfolded again before being taken to a cell, where she was subjected to sleep deprivation and further humiliation.

The woman's account sheds light on the plight of Palestinian prisoners subjected to abuse and mistreatment in Israeli Occupation detention facilities, highlighting the urgent need for international intervention to hold Israeli Occupation authorities accountable for their human rights violations.

She continued: "The investigator told me, 'We will bomb everyone and wipe out Gaza, we will bomb the innocent and the guilty alike.' They left me alone in a room for three hours, bound with iron handcuffs, my hands and feet tied to an iron chair, and a piece of cloth over my eyes. Then, a senior investigator wearing a green suit came in and uncovered my eyes. He had a paper and asked me several questions about the events of October 7th and my involvement in them. Then, a female soldier who was not satisfied with my answers threw the paper in my face and said, 'You are liars, tomorrow you will see what I will do to you.'"

She added: "Afterwards, they transferred me to a barracks made entirely of zinc-covered mesh. There were five of us women, and we stayed in the detention center for five days. Among us was a detainee from Jabalia, Shaweeshah, and she helped me when I got my period by providing me with a single pad, as the rest I had to use paper rolls found in the bathroom, where we went with our hands tied with plastic handcuffs. I told her I didn't know what to do, so Shaweeshah assisted me."

She mentioned that after five days, she was transferred to Damon Prison in Haifa, where she was placed in a small room before being taken for interrogation individually.

She said: "The officer started interrogating me about our elections for the council, and asked me about my siblings and if I worked with any organizations. He asked me if I posted anything on Facebook about October 7th. The interrogation lasted for five minutes, and then two female soldiers took me to a small corridor-like room. One of them ordered me to undress completely, and she began hitting my entire body, while they laughed and spoke in Hebrew while I was naked."

She added: "Then they told me to put my clothes back on. They took me to a room for a medical examination, and then they took me to a room where there were 12 detainees from Gaza. They gave me a very thin mattress, a blanket, and put me in a room with five beds and the rest on the floor."

She mentioned that the bathroom inside the room had no water, with only one tissue available, and there was a water faucet for drinking, but it was not drinkable.

Four days before her release, she was taken for interrogation while still handcuffed with iron cuffs, and she was questioned for 30 minutes.

She said: "On Thursday evening, January 18, 2024, they took us one by one to a small room, and the female soldier ordered me to take off all my clothes and searched me, then ordered me to put on my clothes and led me to another room where they fingerprinted me again. Then they handcuffed my hands and feet and put me in a microbus, which was an iron mesh box where I couldn't see anything except for small air holes, and we drove for about four hours, with very cold air coming in during the trip."

She added: "They dropped us off at a detention center, where we slept on a very thin mattress and a very light blanket. We were trembling from the extreme cold, and an elderly detainee, Fahima Al-Khalidi, was screaming from the cold. The soldiers came and ordered her to be quiet."

She mentioned that the next day she was released along with two other detainees through the Karam Abu Salim crossing in eastern Rafah, and from there she was transferred to a shelter center at the Saudi Boys' Preparatory School in the Saudi neighborhood in Rafah, along with five women, some of whom were recently released detainees.

She concluded by saying: "The situation is very bad. I hope the war ends soon, and I can return to live in peace and safety in my zinc-coated room in my family's yard."

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