UN rights official says Gaza detainees humiliated, dressed in diapers

Israel's military said it was detaining and questioning suspects involved in militant activity

By Reuters

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Israeli soldiers stand by a truck packed with bound and blindfolded Palestinian detainees in Gaza. — AP file
Israeli soldiers stand by a truck packed with bound and blindfolded Palestinian detainees in Gaza. — AP file

Published: Fri 19 Jan 2024, 7:03 PM

A UN human rights official accused Israel on Friday of mistreating Palestinian detainees in Gaza, saying he had met men who had described being held for weeks, beaten and blindfolded, with some released in diapers.

Ajith Sunghay, a UN human rights official in Gaza, told reporters it was not clear exactly how many men had been detained by Israel since it began its military operation in the Palestinian enclave in response to the deadly assault by Hamas on October 7, but he said the number ran into the thousands.

"These are men who were detained by the Israeli security forces in unknown locations for between 30 to 55 days," Sunghay told reporters in Geneva by video link from Gaza.

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He said he had just met released detainees in the besieged enclave. "There are reports of men who are subsequently released, but only in diapers without any adequate clothing in this cold weather," he added.

Israel's military said it was detaining and questioning suspects involved in militant activity — without disclosing a number — as part of its operations in combat areas in Gaza.

Detainees were "treated in accordance with international law" and those found not to be involved in the fighting were released, the Israeli military's Spokesperson's Unit said.

It said suspects were required to hand over their clothes so that they can be searched "to ensure that they are not concealing explosive vests or other weaponry" and that detainees were given back their clothes when possible."

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Asked to elaborate on why some of the released detainees wore diapers, Sunghay said: "So we're not exactly sure why they were put in diapers and sent out but they were clearly visibly shocked and even shaken when I met them."

Israeli TV broadcast footage in December of Palestinian men stripped to their underwear in Gaza. The images that also circulated on social media drew condemnation from Palestinian, Arab and Muslim officials.

At the time, Israeli government spokesperson Eylon Levy said the images showed "military-age men who were discovered in areas that civilians were supposed to have evacuated weeks ago".


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