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British police to tackle UK-funded torturers on the West Bank

The Mail on Sunday (which is the Sunday sister paper of Britain’s Daily Mail) reports that:

The British government is sending police and intelligence officers to the West Bank to try to stop a wave of brutal torture by Palestinian security forces funded by UK taxpayers. Their mission is to set up and train a new “internal affairs” department with sweeping powers to investigate abuse and bring torturers to justice.
On Saturday a senior official from the Palestinian Authority, which runs the West Bank and its security agencies, admitted that torture, beatings and extra-judicial killings have been rife for the past two years, with hundreds of torture allegations and at least four murders in custody, the most recent in August. British detectives will also train the Palestinian police and Preventive Security forces in how to question suspects without torturing them. Britain spends £20 million a year funding the forces responsible for the abuse.
In the West Bank city of Nablus, Nasser al-Shaer, a former academic from Manchester University who was deputy prime minister in the short-lived Hamas Palestinian Authority government elected in 2006, said many of those released from detention in recent months were telling the same story – of torture, including beatings, being suspended from the ceiling, and electric shocks.

Now none of this is new. In spite of what the paper says, it has been continuing not just for the past two years, but since Yasser Arafat was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize and took over most of the West Bank in 1993. What is new is that a major newspaper (The Mail On Sunday is one of Britain’s highest circulation respected newspapers) is reporting on it.

Of course, the abuse of human rights and use of torture is even worse in other “moderate” Arab countries like Egypt and Jordan, and far worse in non-moderate countries like Syria (which yesterday the European Union eagerly signed an Association Agreement with).
Many Palestinians I know yearn for the days when Israel ruled the West Bank before Yasser Arafat and Mahmoud Abbas’s Fatah took over most of the Palestinian-populated territories.

Meanwhile, as Palestinian detainees are being tortured to death in Palestinian Authority jails, Palestinian prisoners (including convicted terrorists) in custody in Israel are studying for Israeli university degrees (at Israeli taxpayers’ expense) and also given cable TV, IPods and dental treatment – but international human rights groups instead criticize the treatment of prisoners in Israel, whose deputy foreign minister and former ambassador to Washington Danny Ayalon narrowly escaped being arrested in Britain for “war crimes” yesterday.

And the world community that routinely and harshly condemns Israel even when Israel hasn’t done anything wrong, has failed to condemn the Katyusha rocket fired from Lebanon which narrowly missed an Israeli town last night.
It is a strange world.

Tom GrossTom Gross is a former Middle East correspondent for the London Sunday Telegraph and the New York Daily News.

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