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  • ACRI

Close the Detention Facility at the Sde Teman Detention Center

On May 23, 2024, Association for Civil Rights in Israel, Physicians for Human Rights, HaMoked, Public Committee Against Torture in Israel and Gisha – Center for the Protection of the Right to Move, petitioned the High Court of Justice to stop holding detainees in the Sde Teman Detention Center and therefore close the detention facility. The Sde Teman Detention Center has been operated by the military as a facility for detaining suspected unlawful combatants since the beginning of the war. More than 1,000 detainees are held in cage-like facilities, without beds or any other equipment. Testimonies have revealed an incomprehensible reality of surgeries performed without anesthesia, the holding of detainees for days on end in painful positions and such severe handcuffing that led to amputation, blindfolding for long periods of time – even while providing medical treatment and defecating – holding some of the detainees with diapers, beatings and abuse.


The declaration of the Sde Teman facility as a "place of detention," in accordance with the Unlawful Combatants Law, is lawful only if there are appropriate conditions of detention for detainees that will not harm their dignity, health and will comply with Israel's obligations to detainees under Israeli and international law. The petition argued that the severe violation of the detainees' rights make deprivation of liberty unconstitutional and makes it impossible to continue holding detainees in the facility. "Even those suspected of the worst acts of terrorism are entitled to detention at a minimum humane level, while ensuring basic human needs. We ourselves will not be humane if we do not ensure a level of humanity for the detainees in our custody," a quote from the former Supreme Court President Aharon Barak that was included in the petition.


A hearing on the petition was held on June 5, 2024. That same day, the state submitted a notice stating that due to the high number of detainees, detainees had been held in Sde Teman for long periods of time, and now intends to operate the site as a facility for absorption, interrogation and initial screening, where the detainees will be held for a short and limited time. Accordingly, 500 of the 700 detainees in Sde Teman will be transferred to Ofer Prison, and regarding the other 200, the state asked to update them again.


On June 11, 2024, another update was submitted, stating that the transfer of the 500 detainees is underway, and that 30 of the detainees have been released to Gaza. As a result, by June 19, 2024, the number of detainees in Sde Teman will be about 160, of whom 30 already have another place of detention. The state requested further updates by June 20, 2024 regarding the actual decline in the number of detainees. The state also stated that by the end of June it intends to hold inmates in Sde Teman for absorption,  For investigation and screening only. It was also reported that on June 13, 2024, upgrading the existing infrastructure at the medical facility is expected to be completed and following the transfer of the detainees from Sde Teman, the detention facilities there are expected to be rebuilt in two to three months.


On June 16, 2024, the petitioners filed a notice with the court, insisting that detainees cannot be held in Sde Teman, even for short periods.

 

HCJ 4268/24 Association for Civil Rights in Israel v. Minister of Defense


The petition, May 23, 2024

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