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Tortured in Sinai, Imprisoned in Israel

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PHR-I discussed hurdles torture victims seeking asylum face. Visible signs of torture must exist to qualify. Currently from 5,000 - 7,000 survivors reside in Israel. Social rights and other forms of help are denied.

An EEPA/Tilburg University study based on torture victim testimonies in captivity and after release estimated that 4,000 didn't survive their captivity and journey in the past five years.

" The lack of proper identification procedures and treatment of torture survivors by Israeli authorities can be observed when comparing the number of survivors identified and treated by Israeli authorities to the number of those identified and treated by PHR-I."

In 2011, 54 women told Israeli authorities they were sexually abused. Twenty-three got gynecological treatment. Over the same timeframe, PHR-I helped 1,585 women (mainly African) get proper treatment. Twenty-one underwent abortions.

Of the 1,543 asylum seekers who entered Israel from June through September 2012, "only 30 shared with the Administrative Tribunal their experiences." Israel imprisoned them on arrival.

Torture victim survivors way exceed this figure. They number many hundreds. Rape is especially common. Many victims say little or nothing. They're unaware that torture, if proved, gains them release.

Administrative Tribunal hearings don't explain. They also discourage asylum seekers from describing their experiences. Testimonies PHR-I obtained were "credible enough for the Tribunal to transfer the protocols for further examination by relevant authorities in order to establish if they are slavery victims."

All were Eritreans. About 30% had visible evidence of torture. Four women and two men were slavery victims. Only one man was transferred to a shelter for help. Others waited months for release.

Most survivors are women. Over half admitted being raped. Hostages endured captivity an average 140 days. Release cost them $33,660 in ransom. Family members raised it to help.

Israel's Administrative Tribunal recognized half the survivors as kidnap victims. Prior to and during proceedings they're imprisoned.

Israel's Public Defender describes conditions as substandard, overcrowded, and unsanitary. Medical services are woefully inadequate or nonexistent. Harsh treatment is commonplace. Its impact for some is damaging and irreversible.

Suicides result. Survivors experience trauma. Hunger strikes and prison riots occur. Israeli prisons are some of the worst. Even victims of torture and slavery aren't spared. Many languish for months without help or justice.

PHR-I said a Channel 2 report discussed what Eritrean and Sudanese asylum seekers face in Saharonim Prison. Torture and slavery victims are treated like "infiltrators."

Abuse is common. Confinement lasts months. They're locked in "waiting cages" and forgotten. Problems they experience go largely untreated. Israeli treatment is nearly as bad as captivity in Sinai. 

Compassion isn't in Israel's vocabulary. Jews alone get some, others practically none. Abuse substitutes for lawful treatment.

Israel has the right to protect its borders. It's also obligated to obey international law. Instead, it spurns it with impunity. Victimization is compounded by further abuse. No wonder Israel is so widely despised. Many Jews condemn its practices.

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I was born in 1934, am a retired, progressive small businessman concerned about all the major national and world issues, committed to speak out and write about them.
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