Dozens of Palestinian detainees abused at detention facility, Israel rights groups say

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A report by two Israeli rights groups released Wednesday says dozens of Palestinian detainees at an Israeli detention facility are subjected to mistreatment, which in some cases amounts to torture.

The report by B'Tselem and HaMoked presents accounts by 116 Palestinian detainees on conditions at the Shikma interrogation facility, run by the Israeli Shin Bet internal security agency.

The report says the detainees are incarcerated small, rank cells, often in isolation. Palestinian detainees told the Israeli rights groups that they were at times exposed to extreme heat or cold, bound to a chair and denied access to a shower for days or weeks. The detainees are shouted at and spit on, are deprived of sleep and are provided little, substandard food, the report says.

"Conditions at the Shikma facility are an inherent part of interrogations there: they serve to weaken both mind and body, complementing the actual interrogation of detainees in the interrogation room," the report said. "The combination of conditions both in and outside the interrogation room constitutes abuse and inhuman, degrading treatment, at times even amounting to torture."

Israeli agencies are bound by a Supreme Court's 1999 prohibition on torture and work under legal supervision. Far more serious abuses of detainees are rampant in other countries across the region.

The report comes as Israel struggles to cope with months of near-daily Palestinian attacks on civilians and security forces.

In another attempted attack Wednesday, the Israeli military says a knife-wielding Palestinian rushed toward an Israeli in the West Bank and tried to stab him. A soldier on the scene opened fire, hitting the assailant but also seriously wounding the stabber's target. Both have been evacuated to the hospital.

The rights groups' report is based on affidavits and personal accounts from Palestinians held for security reasons at the facility between August 2013 and March 2014. The prisoners interviewed spent a maximum of 58 days in detention.

In their report, the groups also say that at least 14 of the Palestinian detainees endured torture in interrogations by Palestinian Authority security services before being arrested by Israeli security forces.

Daniel Shenhar, a HaMoked lawyer, said the report shows interrogators have violated the Supreme Court ruling with the use of intentional sleep deprivation and prolonged stress positions.

The Shin Bet in a statement said it would not comment on the report, which it dubbed "twisted." It said interrogations are conducted according to law in order to prevent attacks and "activities that damage the security of the country."