The Israeli secret service, or Shin Bet, has always depended on ‘internal investigations’ to respond to allegations of torture and mistreatment. Now, the Shin Bet officer in charge of complaints will be moved under the jurisdiction of the Justice Department.The ‘internal investigations’ have, in 100% of cases, resulted in a dismissal of complaints, often with a single sentence reply to the complainant: “There is no basis for the complaints in your letter.’ The Public Committee Against Torture in Israel recently released a report showing that every single one of the 650 complaints brought to the Israeli government’s legal advisors were dismissed out of hand.
After the report’s release, Israeli Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein announced that he will move the employee who deals with complaints from within the Shin Bet to the Justice Department for ‘the sake of appearances’.
According to the Attorney General’s office, it is unlikely that the shift in jurisdiction will result in any actual change in how ‘investigations’ of complaints are conducted.
The Shin Bet has a reputation among Israeli military branches for harsh interrogation and torture of prisoners. Palestinians who have been abducted by the Shin Bet report horrific techniques used by the Shin Bet officers during interrogations, and officers within the organization have publicly admitted their use of certain techniques including the so-called ‘Palestinian hanging’, in which prisoners are hung by their handcuffed hands from a wall.
Despite the violations of international law and human rights conventions, Shin Bet officers continue to authorize the use of torture against Palestinian prisoners, including children, on a regular basis.