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Rights groups allege torture as Palestinian detainee enters critical condition after Shin Bet interrogation

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Israeli authorities are being accused of torture after a Palestinian prisoner was reported to be in criticial condition in a Jerusalem hospital, following a series of interrogations with Israel’s internal intelligence agency, the Shin Bet.

Samer al-Arbeed, 44, was detained by Israeli special forces on September 25, allegedly in connection with a bombing in the occupied West Bank last month that killed an Israeli teenage girl.

Al-Arbeed is being accused of organizing the attack, allegedly carried out by a “cell” affiliated with the left-wing Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PLFP) faction.

The father of three is now in critical condition, unconscious, and being kept on a ventilator in the Hadassah Hospital, with his lawyer reporting that al-Arbeed was suffering from broken ribs and kidney failure, and had several markings on his body.

Ramallah-based prisoners rights group Addameer said in a statement on Sunday that al-Arbeed was “harshly beaten” during his arrest, before being taken to the al-Moscobiyya interrogation center in Jeruaslem — notorious among Palestinians for its use of torture and harsh interrogations.

On the day of his arrest, al-Arbeed was banned from seeing his lawyer. The next day during a court session, al-Arbeed complained to a judge of severe chest pain, an inability to eat, and constant throwing up.

“We have no information of why Samer was not transferred immediately to the hospital,” Addameer said, adding that despite what al-Arbeed told the judge, “his interrogation continued using torture and ill-treatment techniques that we are not aware of until this moment.”

According to Addameer, al-Arbeed’s lawyer was informed on Saturday September 28 at around 8pm that his client had been transferred to the hospital and was in critical condition. The group noted that this was more than 24 hours after al-Arbeed had actually been taken to the hospital, which they learned was on the morning of the 27th.

“Attempts to visit him were only achieved after a few hours at around 1:30 am, as the lawyer was not allowed to actually visit Samer but to see him for a short period of time,” Addameer said.

Israeli media reported that Shin Bet received permission to employ “extraordinary measures” during Arbeed’s interrogation.

In a statement the Shin Bet said that al-Arbeed “felt unwell” during interrogation, providing no further details.

The Israeli Ministry of Justice has reportedly begun an “inquiry” into the interrogation of al-Arbeed.

Addameer called for the immediate release of al-Arbeed and an international investigation into “the conditions and environment of torture Samer suffered from and to hold those responsible accountable to their crimes.”

Yumna Patel

Yumna Patel is the Palestine correspondent for Mondoweiss.

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