During the past 14 years, dozens of lawsuits have been filed in the Israeli judicial system by Arabs who have fled the Palestinian Authority (PA) and were given refuge in Israel. The sheer volume of cases and their remarkable similarity led the Israeli justice system to combine them and hear them as a unified case, heard in Jerusalem District Court, Justice Moshe Drori presiding, in 2017.
In each case, the victims, Palestinian Arabs living in PA-controlled areas, were suspected of collaborating with Israel -- a "crime" that can include anything from warning authorities of impending acts of terrorism to selling land to Jews.
These suspected "collaborators," after their abduction by the Palestinian Police, were imprisoned in the PA's dungeons and subjected to unspeakable torture. In their testimony before the court, the victims described brutal beatings, broken teeth, sexual assault, exposure to extreme heat and cold, being forced to sit on broken glass bottles, being hung repeatedly in various positions, and "medical treatment" by the Palestinian Authority's prison doctors that included injections of urine directly into their veins. In many cases, suspected collaborators were executed outright; other times, they were tortured to death and their family members raped and tortured. Even infants were not spared. These methods remain in force; this is how the Palestinian Authority deals with anyone suspected of cooperating with Jews: Death or torture.
During the trial, attorney for the Palestinian Authority changed their defense. First, they denied any involvement; later admitted that their police force had indeed "made arrests." They also tried to claim that due process had been adhered to throughout the period of incarceration.
A few months ago, Justice Drori found the Palestinian Authority directly responsible for the imprisonment and torture or murder of the 52 Palestinian plaintiffs, and required the PA to compensate the victims accordingly. In his decision, Justice Drori pointed to the overwhelming and incontrovertible evidence of torture, and the shocking similarity between the victims' testimony, which covers nearly 2,000 pages.
Pictured: The Jerusalem District Court, where Justice Moshe Drori recently found the Palestinian Authority directly responsible for the imprisonment and torture or murder of the 52 Palestinian plaintiffs, and required the PA to compensate the victims accordingly. (Image source: Sirkiss/Wikimedia Commons)
To collect compensation from the Palestinian Authority, however, the victims are required to submit a variety of medical and psychological assessments -- tests often expensive to run and which the Palestinians cannot afford. To help their clients, the Palestinians' attorneys, Barak Kedem and Aryeh Arbus, applied to 15 human rights organizations for assistance -- a "Who's Who" of human rights activism in the Israel-Arab conflict that are always the most vocal in the struggle against the Israeli "occupation," and regularly condemn the plight of Palestinian and Israeli Arabs under Israeli "occupation." These organizations are the greatest activists against demolition of homes belonging to terrorists' families, and the leaders of the fight against the "oppression" of Arabs by the Israel Police and the IDF, which they refer to as "occupation forces."
Each of the human rights organizations approached benefit immensely from the extremely generous support of foreign governments and charities such as the New Israel Fund and other well-known "liberal" foundations. The response the attorneys received speaks volumes:
- The New Israel Fund, B'Tselem, Rabbis for Human Rights, and the Association for Civil Rights in Israel were among the groups that completely ignored the pleas of the Palestinian plaintiffs. These organizations, not known for their reticence, were suddenly mute.
- Yesh Din expressed "feelings of anger and pain," but explained that they cannot help because they "represent victims of violations only when they are harmed by Israeli authorities or Israeli citizens."
- Another well-known NGO, Adalah, stated that they "only help Palestinians who are suing the State of Israel."
- Amnesty International replied that their organization "does not have the professional tools to address the needs of these refugees."
All told, 13 of the 15 "human rights organizations" proved that they are, in fact, dedicated to defaming the State of Israel, and have no real interest in defending human rights. Only two organizations -- The Committee for Prevention of Torture and Physicians for Human Rights -- offered assistance of any kind.
Ironically, help also came from two unexpected sources: Honenu, a legal aid society most often associated with right wing causes, and Regavim, a think-tank and lobbying group that regularly finds itself in court to protect Israeli sovereignty. Apparently, these two organizations actually believe that "human rights" is more than a battering ram to be used to defame Israel.
The case of these 52 victims of Palestinian Authority torture is a cautionary tale about the type of state one can expect PA President Mahmoud Abbas and his henchmen to create if they are given the chance. It is also a sad but eye-opening lesson in the cynical use of the mantra of "human rights" as the sheep's clothing worn by the wolves who seek to tear real human rights -- and the countries and organizations that actually do care about them -- to shreds.
Bassam Tawil is an Arab Muslim based in the Middle East.