Israeli Medieval TortureAn Israeli who posted a testimony on Facebook about the “medieval-style” torture of Palestinians he assisted in during his army service in the occupied territories has faced a virulent backlash from fellow Israelis, including threats of violence.Yuval Lev published the testimony in Hebrew on his Facebook page on 8 November.“Today I think that the real punishment for a sore conscience is that you simply cannot delete what happened from your brain, and you are sentenced to remembering it forever, with no ability to forget,” Lev wrote.Lev recounted that “one day two fellows came to the [military] camp looking like Shabak men, and after a short chat with our commanders, took four of us (myself included) to a mission lasting a few days - to secure a secret Shabak interrogation facility, in the heart of one of the violent, rough neighborhoods around.”Shabak is the Israeli acronym for the General Security Service or GSS, a secret police force notorious for its involvement in extrajudicial execution and toture of Palestinians over many decades.“Medieval-style torture facility”“We went gladly, of course, full of pride for having been selected for the important, patriotic mission which would save lives and prevent attacks,” Lev wrote, adding:Without exaggeration and without even a drop of melodrama for enhancing the effect: we arrived at a medieval-style torture facility.A long, narrow hallway, white fluorescent bulbs and the stench of bunker air, on the left a row of interrogation rooms, with the shouts of the interrogators and the screams of the interrogatees always coming out of them, and on the right, along a gray concrete wall, stood a line of “detainees.” stood and waited for their turn to be interrogated. Legs shackled, hands behind their backs, a jute sack over their head, standing in absolute silence. As surrealistic as a movie about the Inquisition. At the end of the hall, on a sort of giant metal mesh, another detainee was hung by his handcuffs like Jesus on the cross, with his hands up and to the sides and his sack on his head, groaning with pain, and a soldier screaming at him and beating him with the butt of his rifle.Lev, who works as a marketing consultant in Tel Aviv, described witnessing other torture practices, some that are well-documented for their use by Israel, including denying victims food, water and sleep, and beating them savagely when they urinated on themselves.Torture during the first intifadaIn Lev’s written account on Facebook, he stated that the events occurred during the second intifada which began in 2000, but in a telephone conversation he told The Electronic Intifada that that had been a typo and the events he described occurred during the unarmed first intifada, around 1989, when he was in the army. Lev said he is now 44 years old, which would have made him about 21 in 1989.Lev concluded his account by saying that this was the first time he had spoken out:What I do know is that many people like me saw and took part in terrible deeds, like these and other kinds, by act or by omitting to act. There is no way to justify such conduct toward human beings, whoever they are, for any reason. Even if under the circumstances at the time our conduct was not deemed to be a crime, in the legal definition of crimes, I have no doubt that we committed crimes and sins, towards them and towards ourselves, as human beings and as a society.Reactions: “Hate and anger”Lev’s post was followed by hundreds of Hebrew-language comments expressing violent sentiments and condemning him for speaking out. In a comment that garnered 71 “likes,” Mor Isachar quipped, “What do you expect? For them to be given a 5 star hotel?”“That’s exactly what’s supposed to happen there,” wrote Boaz Lalush, “you weren’t supposed to be there, you should have served [your military duty] in the Qiryah [base in downtown Tel Aviv] you cross-dressing leftist, you.”Several comments used “cross-dresser” as a homophobic epithet.Yosef Edri explicitly justified the torture: “First of all, you don’t know who those people who stood before you with sacks on their head, or how much blood they had on their hands, and maybe the information that we maybe extracted from him in a way that was maybe not nice… saved the lives [souls] of some dozens if not hundreds of people.”For Amir Ben-Haim, torture is the very reason Israel exists: “Dude… such facilities are the reason we have a state… stop being [horrified], there is one path they understand, and that is force!”This is only a sampling of the comments on Lev’s post, but it is also consistent with the widespread racist and violent anti-Arab sentiments of Israelis on Facebook documented in other instances previously.Lev told The Electronic Intifada that in addition to the publicly visible comments on Facebook, he had received abusive private messages, some of which were threatening.“I’m not a political person,” Lev said when asked why he published the testimony, “I wrote it as a personal experience.”While he hasn’t been totally surprised by the negative reactions, “I didn’t expect this much hate and anger,” hold told The Electronic Intifada.
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