An official Israeli report has acknowledged for the first time that the Israeli
security service tortured detainees during the Palestinian uprising, the
Intifada, between 1988 and 1992.
The report, written five years ago but kept secret until now, said the leadership
of the security service Shin Bet knew about the torture but did nothing to
The report did not detail the torture methods used, but human rights
organisations say some detainees died or were left paralysed.
Security agents were also accused of lying to the courts about their actions.
The release of the report in Israel was authorised by a parliamentary committee
after the Supreme Court recommended it no longer be kept secret.
The Israeli Government has, in the past, denied that it used any interrogation
methods that amounted to torture.
Israel 'broke own rules'
But the report says the Shin Bet routinely went beyond the "moderate physical
pressure" authorised by a 1987 commission headed by then-Supreme Court Justice
Human rights groups in Israel maintain that the practices authorised by the
Landau commission - keeping prisoners in excruciatingly uncomfortable postures,
covering their heads with filthy and malodorous sacks and depriving them
of sleep - amount to torture.
The report, however, written by former State Comptroller Miriam Ben-Porat,
says the agents systematically overstepped even these limits, especially
at the interrogation facility in the Gaza Strip.
"Most of the violations were not caused by lack of knowledge of the line
between what was permitted and what was forbidden, but were committed knowingly,"
the report said.
"At the Gaza facility, veteran and even senior investigators committed very
grave and systematic violations."
The report accuses the entire leadership of the Shin Bet of knowing what
was going on but doing nothing to stop it. It says that the agents lied about
their activities in court, to other investigating agencies and in their reports
"The assurances of senior Shin Bet officials to the Landau Commission that
truth-telling inside the organisation is enforced ... were found to have
no basis in reality," it noted.
The report acknowledged that the security issues faced by the agents at the
time were unprecedented, and that they succeeded in preventing a number of
The report describes this activity as "holy work"
but criticises the methods used and recommends measures to ensure that they
Two years after the report was written, the Supreme Court banned the use
of physical force in interrogations, even within the limits set by the Landau
The Ben-Porat report was submitted to an intelligence subcommittee of the
Parliamentary State Audit Committee in 1997, but the subcommittee decided
to keep it under wraps. It was made public on Wednesday in response to a
recommendation by the Supreme Court.