TEL AVIV – Some 50 Palestinians petitioned the International Criminal Court at The Hague on Monday to launch an investigation into the Palestinian Authority for carrying out war crimes, including torture, on suspected collaborators with Israel.
The group, which is being represented by Israeli attorneys Uri Morad at the Jerusalem Institute for Justice (JIJ) and Barak Kedem from Arbus, Kedem and Tzur, have previously received rulings in their favor in Israeli civilian courts.
In 2017, Jerusalem District Court Judge Moshe Drori ruled that the PA was behind 52 cases of torture and abuse and even murder involving Palestinians and Israeli Arabs suspected of cooperating with Israel. The ruling outlined heinous forms of torture including extended periods of being hung upside down, melted plastic being poured over the plaintiffs’ bodies, extinguishing of cigarettes on the plaintiffs’ bodies, the forcible extraction of fingernails and teeth, sterilization, depriving abductees of sleep and food, and the murder and rape of family members.
The groundbreaking case eventually reached the Israeli Supreme Court last November, which issued a decree to the PA to pay close to NIS 14 million ($3.9 million) in compensation for the false imprisonment of 51 Palestinians.
The PA attempted to appeal the ruling, with the claim that paying the sum could bankrupt it.
Kedem said he aims to “show the world the brutality with which the Palestinian Authority treats its prisoners.”
“The fact that we have people here who experienced that hell should horrify any human. It doesn’t matter what people you belong to or what your political opinions are. … I hope that as a result of our appeal to The Hague and to world leaders, other countries will ask themselves whether they want to stay part of the system that sends money to the PA, and we hope that The Hague will hold the perpetrators of these atrocities to account,” he added.
Filmed testimonies of the Palestinians accusing the PA of torture were shown to the ICC on Monday.
In one testimony a former prisoner said: “I wished for death more than 20 times a day because of the suffering. The torture was awful. Once they sat me on an electric chair. I was sure I was going to die.”
In another, the Palestinian confessed that he had entered Israel illegally with the goal of perpetrating a terrorist attack, but was badly hurt in a car accident. According to the Hebrew-language Israel Hayom daily, the man was rushed to an Israeli hospital, where his life was saved. The medical care he received caused him to change his opinions and begin collaborating with Israel in its war against terror, the report said.
According to Morad, JIJ first contacted the ICC at The Hague in February to ask for a criminal probe into PA President Mahmoud Abbas “on suspicion of crimes he perpetrated against his own people, including an ongoing and extensive spree of murder, torture and illegal imprisonments against the Palestinian population.”
“The testimonies that will be presented tomorrow [Monday] demonstrate a well-oiled system that uses violent means to oppress the civilian population,” Morad said.