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UN Official Exposes "Massive Scale" Torture of Palestinians

Sarah Lazare, staff writer

The UN's Richard Falk demanded an international investigation into torture of Palestinians in Israeli prisons in an address to the UN Human Rights Council Monday.

The Princeton professor and UN Special Rapporteur gave a chilling report on "massive scale" mistreatment of Palestinians, highlighting:

Abusive night time arrest procedures; arbitrary detention; torture and other forms of ill, inhumane and humiliating treatment; coerced confessions; solitary confinement; denial of family visits; denial of access to legal representation; unacceptable conditions in prisons; lack of access to adequate health care; and denial of access to education; unlawful transfer of Palestinians to prisons located within Israel. These issues have persisted without significant correction throughout 46 years of occupation.

Falk declared that this torture flows from an Israeli state that "continuously intrudes upon Palestinian rights" to enforce occupation and land annexation. He went on to condemn the Israeli-led blockade of Gaza, which he termed collective punishment of this densely populated area.

Days before Falk delivered the report, the US representative to the UNHRC called for his resignation, and Falk faced a deluge of similar attacks earlier this week. Falk denounced smear tactics as an attempt distract public attention to avoid accountability for provable human rights abuses and insisted he will not resign.

Israel walked away from the UNHRC last year after criticism of its human rights abuses.

Falk's findings come at a time when Palestinians and their global supporters are mobilizing for the rights of the over 4,500 Palestinians currently in Israeli prisons, and the 700,000 Palestinians that have been incarcerated since 1967 according to UN estimates. Massive Palestinian hunger strikes have swept Israeli prisons since 2012, and April 17 saw a global day of action to support Palestinian prisoners, launched by Palestinian human rights organization Addameer.

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