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Palestinians subjected to ‘ill-treatment’ during detention, says UNRWA

The UN Agency for Palestinian Refugees (UNRWA) says in a new report that since April 4, Israeli forces have released 1,506 detainees from Gaza through the Karem Abu Salem (Kerem Shalom) crossing point. Those released included 43 children and 84 women. Among them were 16 family members of UNRWA staff and “326 Gazan labourers working in Israel”.

Following the launch of Israel’s ground offensive in Gaza in October, reports emerged of Palestinians being detained. During their detention, many reported “ill-treatment”.

“This included being subjected to beatings while made to lie on a thin mattress on top of rubble for hours without food, water or access to a toilet, with their legs and hands bound with plastic ties,” the report found. “Several detainees reported being forced into cages and attacked by dogs. Some released detainees, including a child, had dog-bite wounds on their body”.

The report added that some detainees were threatened with extended detention times, injury or the deaths of family members if they did not give authorities the information they wanted.

Palestinian detainees subjected to ‘sexual violence’ by Israeli army: UNRWA

A report from the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) on the treatment of Palestinian detainees finds that in “most” reported incidents, the Israeli army forced males, both men and boys, to “strip down” to their underwear.

“Both men and women reported threats and incidents that may amount to sexual violence and harassment by the [Israeli army] while in detention. Male victims reported beatings to their genitals while one detainee reported being made to sit on an electrical probe,” the report said.

The report added that female detainees had also described “psychological abuse”.

“They asked the soldiers to spit on me, saying, ‘She is a b****. She is from Gaza.’ They were beating us as we moved and saying they would put pepper on our sensitive parts [genitals],” a 34-year-old female detainee told UNRWA.

Gaza’s interior ministry decries Israeli attack on police vehicle

Several people were killed in the Tuffah neighbourhood of eastern Gaza City in an attack on a police vehicle. Gaza’s Interior Ministry has condemned the attack, which it said killed seven “officers and members of the police force”, as well as other bystanders, for a total of nine deaths.

The Israeli army’s “repeated, targeted attacks on security forces” across Gaza is an attempt to create an atmosphere of chaos among residents of the strip, the ministry said in a statement.

“We call on all parties within the international community to pressure the occupation to halt its attacks against members of the police force, who are carrying out their duties to serve and protect our people,” it added.

UN calls on states to end ‘horrific’ humanitarian crisis in Gaza

Ravina Shamdasani, spokesperson for the UN high commissioner for human rights, has called on states to help halt the “increasingly horrific human rights and humanitarian crisis in Gaza”.

“No area of the Gaza Strip has been spared from Israel’s bombardment. We have nearly 1.7 million people who remain forcibly displaced, living in appalling conditions and under constant threat,” she told reporters in Geneva.

In the past week alone, she said, fighting intensified in central Gaza, leading to the displacement of 10,000 people.

UN calls for protection of Palestinians from settler attacks in occupied West Bank

In further remarks to reporters from Geneva, the spokesperson for the UN high commissioner for human rights called on countries “with influence to do everything in their power” to end violence in the occupied West Bank.

Shamdasani made the comments as attacks by settlers against Palestinians and their property continue to rise. At least four Palestinians have been killed in such attacks since Friday, and many have taken place with the support of Israeli soldiers.

“Dozens of Palestinians have reportedly been injured, including through the use of firearms, by settlers and by Israeli security forces, and hundreds of homes and other buildings as well as cars have been torched,” Shamdasani said.

“Israel, as the occupying power, must take all measures in its power to restore and ensure as far as possible public order and safety in the occupied West Bank. This obligation includes protecting Palestinians from settler attacks and ending unlawful use of force against Palestinians by Israeli security forces,” she added.

Settler violence backed by Israel’s ‘impunity’: Human rights group

Last week began a massive surge in violence by Israeli settlers on Palestinian residents of the occupied West Bank.

But Wesam Ahmad, head of the Center for Applied International Law at Palestinian human rights organization Al-Haq, says it stems from the policy long held by the Israeli government, which allows and tacitly supports these kinds of attacks.

Settler violence backed by Israel’s ‘impunity’

Wesam Ahmad, head of the Al-Haq human rights group’s Center for Applied International Law, says the rise in settler violence in the occupied West Bank is linked to the war on Gaza and emboldened by Israel’s sense of “impunity”.

“There’s a strong symbiotic relationship between the Israeli occupying forces and Israeli settlers working in collaboration to various levels or, at the very least, the Israeli occupying forces allowing the settlers to carry out these attacks without doing anything to prevent them,” Ahmad told Al Jazeera.

He explained that the Palestinian Authority, which controls the West Bank, has “very limited” power.

“I think it’s inherent for the international community to step in. This is a context of coloniser and colonised, and the idea that the colonised with their limited capacity can confront the coloniser in this asymmetrical power dynamic is absurd. This is where the international community needs to step up,” he added.