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Inside 'The Slaughterhouse': Brutal torture and rape in Israel's Sde Teiman prison

Inside 'The Slaughterhouse': Brutal torture and rape in Israel's Sde Teiman prison

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إقرأ باللغة العربية:

"يتناوب الجنود على اغتصاب معتقلي غزة بالعصي"... شهادات صادمة من معتقل "سديه تيمان" الإسرائيلي


In Gaza, the "Netzarim Trap" refers to the spot where the Israeli army hunts and captures young men from Gaza at the Netzarim Corridor, or Route 749, which separates northern Gaza from the south. According to a report by Euro-Med Human Rights Monitor in November, “Israel uses its 'safe corridor' in Gaza as a trap to murder and detain Palestinians fleeing Israeli violence.”

From there, Israeli soldiers lead civilians to what seems like a single, unified fate: the Sde Teiman detention center in the Negev.

Located about 30 kilometers from Gaza, the prison is referred to by Palestinians as ‘the slaughterhouse’. Here, prisoners may spend months isolated from the world, not knowing where they have been taken.

Israel periodically releases prisoners from this facility back into the devastated Gaza Strip. From these released individuals, the world has heard horrific testimonies about the insane methods of torture they have endured, has seen their traumatized faces and scarred or even amputated limbs, as also corroborated by testimonies from Israeli doctors.

The latest to be released from the infamous Sde Teiman detention center was a disabled prisoner whose identity doctors could not ascertain due to his loss of memory under torture, in addition to losing his sight and parts of his internal organs.

However, the world had not heard, in a clear and detailed manner, about the cases of prisoner rape until Khaled Mahajna, the first and last lawyer to set foot in the prison, brought them to light.

In his testimony to Raseef22, Mahajna recounts the words of his client, Mohammad Arab, a journalist for Al-Arabi TV who was arrested by the Israeli occupation from Al-Shifa Hospital 100 days ago. He states, "A prisoner who 'accumulates offenses' with the soldiers, or perhaps dares to ask for something, is dragged to the yard where soldiers take turns raping him with batons in front of all the other detainees."

Yesterday, June 26, marked the International Day in Support of Victims of Torture. But what "form of support do these detainees, whose number is estimated around one thousand and whose ages vary, actually receive?" asks Mahajna, noting that they range from children as young as ten to elderly elderly men in their eighties.

"A prisoner who 'accumulates offenses' with the soldiers, or perhaps dares to ask for something, is dragged to the yard where soldiers take turns raping him with batons in front of all the other detainees."

The latest to be released was a disabled prisoner whose identity doctors could not ascertain due to his loss of memory under torture, in addition to losing his sight and parts of his internal organs.

These detainees could die in this prison, as has happened with dozens of Palestinians so far, including doctors Iyad al-Rantisi and Adnan al-Bursh, without any law or oversight to protect their right to justice.


"I was forced onto my knees for 24 hours a day"

Dawoud Abu Rayya is a survivor of the “Sde Teiman slaughterhouse”. He was arrested when a soldier called his name at the Netzarim checkpoint when he was forcefully displaced to the south.

From the moment of his arrest, Dawoud was subjected to various forms of torture, abuse, and humiliation. He recalls a night when an officer whipped a detainee. The entire prison had been silent, as if the officer intended for all the prisoners to hear the man’s screams of agony.

"He called me by my name," the twenty-something Dawoud tells Raseef22. "Then he began interrogating me, dragging me among the detainees. They blindfolded me and tied my hands before taking me to what I later understood to be Sde Teiman prison, which isn't even suitable to house animals," he adds.

From the moment of his arrest, Dawoud was subjected to various forms of torture, abuse, and humiliation. During his transfer to the detention camp, he didn't dare scream despite the excruciating pain from an injury sustained during the bombing of his home in northern Gaza. He bit down hard on his teeth, almost breaking them, to stifle his agony, fearing that the soldiers would hear his groans, and decide to torture or hit him where he is injured, as they usually do with other detainees.

"The officer would order me to kneel for 24 hours straight, forbidding me to move, stand, or lean on anything, all while denying me drinking water," Dawoud told Raseef22.

He added, "I was once standing with dozens of other detainees, lined up to use the bathroom after days of being denied access. Suddenly, the officer came and prevented us from entering, screaming, beating, and hurling the vilest insults at us to humiliate and provoke us."

Dawoud didn't dare scream despite the excruciating pain from an injury sustained during the bombing of his home in northern Gaza. He bit down hard on his teeth, almost breaking them, to stifle his agony, fearing that the soldiers would hear his groans, and decide to torture or beat him where he is injured, as they usually do with other detainees

The thought of using the bathroom became a major psychological ordeal for Dawoud. He felt humiliated every time he needed to relieve himself, leading him to request a job cleaning the bathrooms, which allowed him to enter at any time.

Dawoud recalls a night when an officer whipped a detainee. The entire prison had been silent, as if the officer intended for all the prisoners to hear the man’s screams of agony.

The following morning, the officer woke the detainees and began whipping and electrocuting them in a horrifying manner, telling them in Hebrew that what was happening to them was because of the Palestinian resistance.

A leaked photo from the Sde Teiman detention center obtained by CNN


A detention center for vengeance, not interrogation

Since October 7, the Israeli army has converted three military facilities into detention camps, with Sde Teiman being the most prominent facility and is run by the army rather than the Israeli Prison Service.

According to a CNN report, the detention center is divided into two sections. The first holds Palestinians “under extreme physical restraints”, while the second is “a field hospital where wounded detainees are strapped to their beds, wearing diapers and fed through straws,” adding that “they strip them down of anything that resembles human beings.”

Mahajna points out that amputations and other surgeries are performed on prisoners there without anesthesia or painkillers, after they are injured by bombings in Gaza.

According to a CNN report, the Sde Teiman detention center is divided into two sections. The first holds Palestinians “under extreme physical restraints”, while the second is “a field hospital where wounded detainees are strapped to their beds, wearing diapers and fed through straws,” adding that “they strip them down of anything that resembles human beings”

According to his client, the first section consists of large barracks, each holding around 150 prisoners. All are kneeling, with their hands bound and eyes blindfolded 24 hours a day.

They are forbidden to turn their heads or speak. Any slight noise could result in the most brutal forms of torture and abuse.

"The prisoners are civilians, not military men. Their detention is not for interrogation but rather is out of retaliation and revenge," Mahajna emphasizes. He adds that his client was not interrogated until 40 days after his arrest. And they only asked him the same question they had been asking the others, "Where is Hamas hiding the rockets?"

Of course, none of these prisoners have met with lawyers or human rights organizations. "They were presented to the central court only once via video," Mahajna reports. He adds, "The judge asked my client, 'Are you called Mohammad Arab? Your detention is extended indefinitely on charges of belonging to a hostile organization.' That's how it begins and ends."

The detainees do not understand these charges or their details, and are completely unaware of what their fate will be, Mahajna confirms, highlighting his absolute inability to perform his duties as a lawyer under such conditions.

"The prisoners are civilians, not military men. Their detention is not for interrogation but rather is out of retaliation and revenge"

Daily death under torture

After a bitter ordeal he likened to dying, 30-year-old prisoner Allam Hijazi was released from the Sde Teiman detention center. He spent about 17 days with his hands shackled and eyes blindfolded, unaware of what was happening around him.

Allam demanded only the minimum humane treatment in accordance with international conventions and norms that protect prisoners inside prisons, as he expressed.

Allam was captured at the "Netsarim Trap" and then subjected to a lengthy interrogation before being transferred to the Sde Teiman detention facility, where he experienced what he described as "more violent and harsh than anything we heard about Guantanamo."

"What happens inside the detention center is a real massacre against the prisoners. All their basic human rights are erased, and they are deprived of food, water, and personal hygiene," Allam informed Raseef22. He also confirmed being deprived of blankets and bedding during the harsh winter. Additionally, the prison environment was a breeding ground for epidemics and skin diseases like scabies, which spread widely among the detainees.

One section of the prison consists of large barracks, each holding around 150 prisoners. All are kneeling, with their hands bound and eyes blindfolded 24 hours a day. They are forbidden to turn their heads or speak. Any slight noise could result in the most brutal forms of torture and abuse.

"Every day, a prisoner died from torture, abuse, and skin diseases. During my time there, no human rights or international organization, like the Red Cross, visited the prison," Allam adds.

Khaled Mahajna confirms that he learned of the deaths of six prisoners in the last two months from his client, who, like other detainees, hears the soldiers talking about the deaths.

Regarding food, Allam notes that a prisoner's meal isn't enough to feed a bird. He himself suffered from malnutrition, losing 40 kilograms of his weight. According to Mahajna, prisoners are given a single type of food for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. The soldiers serve them a spoonful of labneh, a cucumber or a tomato, and a piece of matzo, the dry bread eaten by Jews during Passover.

"Prisoners suffer from severe constipation as a result. They lose weight at an alarming rate. Mohammad Arab lost about 40 kilograms," Mahajna says. He also mentions that prisoners are allowed to wash for only one minute a week. Those who exceed this time are subjected to torture and punishment.

"Personal hygiene is non-existent. My client hasn’t changed his pants in 70 days, nor his shirt in 50 days," Mahajna states.

"Every day, a prisoner died from torture, abuse, and skin diseases. During my time there, no human rights or international organization, like the Red Cross, visited the prison. We learned of the deaths of six prisoners in the last two months when we heard the soldiers talking about the deaths.


A nightmare

A few days ago, the world was shaken by the sight of Badr Dahlan's eyes. The 30-year-old had just been released from the Sde Teiman detention center after a month of captivity. Journalists' cameras captured the traumatized look on his face and in his eyes, reflecting the horrors he endured in the detention center.

In brief and shaky words, Badr answered journalists' questions, describing his experience as a nightmare. "My brother was arrested in Rafah. At that moment, he disappeared from our lives. We had no information about him, didn't know if he was alive or killed by the occupation soldiers," says his brother, Jihad Dahlan, to Raseef22.

He continues, "After about a month, they released him, and we found him at Al-Aqsa Martyrs Hospital receiving treatment with a group of other prisoners who were with him."

Jihad points out that Badr suffered from psychological disorders before his arrest. These worsened significantly during his detention, indicating that his brother was subjected to clear torture and abuse inside the detention center.

Badr's body bore signs of bruises and beatings, and he now has difficulty sleeping and moving, his brother confirms.

A few days ago, the world was shaken by the sight of Badr Dahlan's eyes. The 30-year-old had just been released from the Sde Teiman detention center after a month of captivity. In brief and shaky words, Badr answered journalists' questions as their cameras captured the traumatized look on his face and in his eyes, reflecting the horrors he endured in the detention center.

"Nightmare" is the word Khaled used to describe his visit to the detention center. "It was a nightmare for me as a lawyer. What must the detainees feel?" he wonders.

Over the course of 15 years, Khaled met hundreds of prisoners in Israeli prisons under the jurisdiction of the Prison Service. However, he describes his visit to a military detention center as terrifying. He was transported there in a military vehicle and greeted by masked soldiers. He was then searched and warned not to do anything that might compromise the security of the place, the soldiers, or the "state," without knowing what exactly this warning implied.

Khaled met his client, Mohammsd, who was shackled at the hands and feet. "They dragged him towards me. It took some time for him to trust me and start talking after I reassured him about his family in Gaza, whom he had not heard from since his arrest," Khaled says.

He adds that his client initially believed he was detained in a camp in Khan Younis and was surprised to learn he was in Sde Teiman.

Detainees are allowed to wash for only one minute a week. Those who exceed this time are subjected to torture and punishment.


Will the detention center be closed?

On Sunday, June 23, 2024, the Israeli Supreme Court ordered the state of Israel to provide clarification about the conditions of detention in Sde Teiman. This includes explanations about the food provided, medical care, personal hygiene, and methods of torture.

"They will find a thousand excuses and pretexts to keep this detention facility open. The demand should not be for improving detention conditions but for closing the detention center in its entirety," Khaled asserts.

He adds, "The prosecution said three weeks ago that it plans to close Sde Teiman. But what I saw in terms of preparations inside indicates otherwise. My client also confirmed that new detainees are being received daily."

"Nightmare" is the word Khaled used to describe his visit to the detention center. "It was a nightmare for me as a lawyer. What must the detainees feel?" Over the course of 15 years, the lawyer met hundreds of prisoners in Israeli prisons under the jurisdiction of the Prison Service. However, he describes his visit to a military detention center as terrifying

"The whole world is talking about the abductees and kidnapped people in Gaza. That's good. But what about these civilian detainees? Who will defend them and grant them justice?" he questions.

Khaled notes that human rights organizations condemn and denounce the situation. However, the Israeli establishment disregards the law, public opinion, or media coverage. The media reveals the details of the conditions of the Gazan detainees without anyone refuting or denying it. It's as if Israel is indifferent to discussions about its ethical and human rights violations. It seems, as Khaled describes, that someone has erased all red lines and given free rein to those who think day and night of new ways to torture Palestinians and strip them of their humanity.



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