US ‘concerned’ by report of Israeli abuse of Palestinian prisoners, calls for probe

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The United States on Monday voiced concern and called on Israel to investigate after a CNN report of Palestinian prisoners being blindfolded, beaten and put in diapers.

The US-based network said it spoke to three Israeli whistleblowers at the Sde Teiman base in the Negev desert that holds Palestinians detained or injured during the military operation in Gaza.

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One whistleblower, who shared photographs, spoke of blindfolded prisoners ordered to sit upright and not speak, with guards shouting “shut up” at them in Arabic.

CNN said another part of the camp was a medical facility where doctors have amputated prisoners’ limbs from injuries sustained by handcuffing.

Asked about the allegations, State Department spokesman Vedant Patel told reporters, “We’re concerned by them and we’re looking into these and other allegations of abuse against Palestinians in detention.”

He said that the United States has told Israel it has an “obligation to thoroughly investigate” credible allegations of violations of international humanitarian law.

“We’ve been clear and consistent with any country including Israel that it must treat all detainees humanely, with dignity and in accordance with international law and it must respect detainees’ human rights,” Patel said.

The CNN report said the camp had about 70 prisoners under extreme restraint as well as a field hospital, where some wounded detainees were strapped to beds wearing diapers and fed through straws.

One whistleblower, who was not identified, told CNN that the prisoners were beaten not to gather intelligence but “out of revenge” for the Hamas attack on Israel on October 7 that triggered the war.

The Israel Defense Forces told CNN that it examines any allegations of misconduct and was not aware of incidents of “unlawful handcuffing.”

The Gaza war began with Hamas’s unprecedented October 7 attack on Israel, which resulted in the deaths of more than 1,170 people, mostly civilians, according to an AFP tally of Israeli official figures.

Israel has vowed to crush Hamas in response. The war in Gaza has killed more than 35,000 people, mostly women and children, according to Gaza’s health ministry.

The United States has been the most important backer of Israel diplomatically and militarily but President Joe Biden has voiced growing frustration over the toll on civilians.

A State Department report on Friday said that Israel has likely violated international humanitarian norms but that the evidence was not firm enough to warrant cutting off US weapons.

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