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Israel likely tortured Palestinian to record rape confession, say rights groups

Manar Mahmoud Muhammad Qasem filmed under interrogation by Israeli forces (Photo via social media)

Human rights groups have questioned the credibility of an Israeli military video of an alleged Islamic Jihad member admitting to raping an Israeli woman during the Hamas-led operation on October 7.

On Thursday, the Israeli forces shared a video online featuring a man named Manar Mahmoud Muhammad Qasem, who is said to be associated with the Islamic Jihad’s naval division, confessing to the rape during an interrogation conducted by the Israeli Intelligence Division.

However, the credibility of the confession has been called into question by human rights groups and commentators, who suspect that it may have been obtained through the use of torture. They have highlighted the rise in arbitrary arrests and the inhumane treatment of Palestinian detainees by Israeli forces since October 7.

“In light of Israel’s decades-long track record of mistreating and torturing Palestinian detainees and resulting well-founded concerns that the interrogations could have involved the use of torture or other forms of ill-treatment, Human Rights Watch does not rely on, nor consider credible, accounts recorded in videos of interrogations of detained Palestinians they say participated in the October 7 assault,” said Omar Shakir, Israel and Palestine director at Human Rights Watch.

Additionally, Amnesty International’s researcher on Israel and the Occupied Palestinian territories, Budour Hassan, said “any public ‘confession’ made by the defendants should be excluded from the evidence considered by court.”

“Amnesty International reiterates its call on the Israeli authorities to end the practice of filming alleged confessions by detained individuals and broadcasting them on social media in advance of their trial,” she stated.

After discrepancies in the testimony and mistranslations in the subtitles were pointed out by commentators, the video was deleted and subsequently reposted several times. 

The purported confession was initially made public in December. Despite Qasem giving a thorough description of the victim’s physical characteristics, the Israeli military has not been able to determine who the woman is.

The alleged testimony follows accusations from the UN Agency for Palestinian Refugees (UNRWA) against Israel for coercing false confessions from the agency’s employees through torture regarding their connections to Hamas.

Israeli authorities have long been accused of engaging in the arbitrary detention and torture of Palestinian detainees. Since 2001, more than 1400 complaints of torture, including painful shackling, sleep deprivation, and exposure to extreme temperatures, have been filed with Israel’s so-called Justice Ministry by Shin Bet, the regime’s internal security service.

Over 7,350 Palestinians have been taken into custody by Israeli forces in the occupied West Bank since the start of the ongoing Israeli onslaught on Gaza.

At least 250 of the detainees are children, and over half are in administrative detention.

Under its policy of administrative detention, Israel detains Palestinians without trial or charge for up to six months, a period which can be extended for an indefinite number of times.

According to a report by Haaretz newspaper in March, it was stated that 27 Gaza detainees had lost their lives in Israeli military facilities since the commencement of the war.

The Israeli aggression has so far killed at least 32,623 Palestinians, mostly women and children, and injured more than 75,092 others in Gaza. The Tel Aviv regime has imposed a “complete siege” on the territory, cutting off fuel, electricity, food, and water to the more than two million Palestinians living there.

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