Interrogation of Arab detainees from outside the West Bank and Gaza Strip generally occurs in three detention centers: Kishon, east of Haifa; Ashkelon, north of the Gaza Strip; and Khiyam in Israeli-occupied south Lebanon.41 Interrogations in these centers are usually conducted by the General Security Service (GSS) and by the IDF, according to Israeli lawyer Lea Tsemel. Some persons captured by the SLA, such as Musa Hasan Zein, who was arrested by the SLA on July 21, 1992 and handed over to the IDF on August 11 of that year,42 undergo interrogation at the hands of the SLA before being handed over to the Israeli authorities. Lebanese detainees, in addition, have been reported held in Israeli military facilities identified to them only as "Sarafand."

The interrogation center called "Sarafand"

Former detainees, lawyers, and prisoner support groups often speak of the detention of Arab detainees in a secret military detention center located inside Israel called "Sarafand." The identity of the place or places to which they are referring is not clear. Tsarafin-the Hebrew version of the Arabic "Sarafand"-is the name of an Israeli army base near Tel Aviv. The base contains a prison called Prison 4 which holds Israeli soldiers convicted in courts martial. Ha'aretz reported that al-Dirani is held in an area of Sarafand called the "Lebanese cabins." Yossi Melman, the author of the article and a regular writer on security affairs for the daily, explained in an interview with Human Rights Watch that the "Lebanese cabins" is an area in Sarafand where detainees are held in isolation and that it acquired its unofficial designation because a number of Lebanese have been held there.43 Defense attorneys told Human Rights Watch that Arab detainees who describe being in "Sarafand" recount that they are held there incommunicado, in solitary confinement, and without access either to a lawyer or to the ICRC, usually during the initial stages of their confinement. However, the Government of Israel did not respond to Human Rights Watch's request for information regarding the existence of such a detention center.

The appearance of the name "Sarafand" in testimony collected from detainees interrogated in 1986 (such as that of Bilal Dakrub) as well as a decade later (such as that of Ali Banjak) would indicate either that a detention center holding Arab security detainees called Sarafand actually exists, or that there has been a long-standing policy by the Israeli GSS to tell detainees in the first stage of interrogation that they are being held in "Sarafand."

The torture and ill-treatment of Lebanese detainees

In addition to the exceptional abuse of long-term incommunicado detention and, in some of the cases under examination, "disappearance" for up to two years, at least some of the detainees are believed to have undergone ill-treatment or torture by their interrogators.

Israeli torture and ill-treatment of security detainees from the West Bank and Gaza Strip has been systematic for many years. In 1987, the Israeli cabinet approved the report of the Landau Commission, a government-appointed committee mandated to review GSS interrogation methods. The commission recommended that the GSS be allowed to use "moderate physical pressure" to obtain information and confessions from security detainees. Israel has neverreleased the guidelines specifying the methods of moderate pressure but maintains that the guidelines prohibit acts that amount to torture. However, Human Rights Watch and other organizations that have investigated the issue have determined that the combination of methods used on a regular basis on detainees brought in for interrogation-including prolonged and painful position abuse, confinement in closet-like spaces and sleep deprivation, hooding, subjection to extremes of noise and to uncomfortable temperatures, and violent shaking-amount, when used in combination with one another and for long periods, to acts of torture.44

Israel's High Court of Justice has not outlawed these practices. For example, on November 14, 1996, the Israeli High Court of Justice declined to bar the GSS's use of "physical force" in the interrogation of Palestinian security detainee Muhammad Hamdan. Hamdan had, two days before the ruling, requested an interim injunction against the use of physical force during the interrogation, which he alleged included the use of violent shaking, sleep deprivation, and position abuse.45

In the extreme conditions of secret detention and "disappearance" experienced by some of the detainees during the first years of their captivity, and the prolonged incommunicado detention still suffered by Obeid and al-Dirani, the psychological conditions of their imprisonment alone may constitute cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment (see below). Allegations of torture have also been made in some of the cases of the twenty-one administrative detainees.

A recent Amnesty International report on Lebanese detainees in Israeli custody reports the use of torture against the eleven detainees who were tried and convicted of penal offenses. According to sources cited in the report, after Bilal Dakrub's arrest in February 1986, the IDF and SLA soldiers who captured him first used him as a human shield, tying him to the hood of cars in order to deter suicide bombers. He was interrogated at Bra'shit camp where SLA soldiers kicked and beat him. He then spent ten days in Center 17 Camp, near Bint Jbeil, which is reportedly run by SLA and Israeli security services. While there, he claimed that he was tortured with electric shocks administered by SLA soldiers in the presence of Israelis who gave orders. After that, he was transferred to "Sarafand," where he spent three months in solitary confinement. There, during his interrogation, he was deprived of sleep for long periods and was forced to stand for several nights in a row while hooded.

Ali Ammar, Ahmad Ammar, Kamal Riziq, and Hasan al-Hijazi, all arrested in Mays al-Jabal in September 1986, were detained in Khiyam for about five months and then transferred to "Sarafand." They claim to have been tortured in both places. Al-Hijazi, whose leg was broken and in a cast at the time of arrest, claimed that while in Khiyam he was forced to stand for hours and was beaten on his broken leg. The other three claimed to have been beaten repeatedly, tortured with electric shocks, kept for long periods in contorted positions while shackled to a chair or to pipes, hooded, exposed to continuous, loud music, and denied sleep for extended periods of time.

After the arrest of Abd al-Hasan Srur, Abbas Srur, Ahmad Srur, Yusif Srur, and Hasan Daqduq in March and April 1987, they were detained in Center 17 Camp and Khiyam. While in Khiyam they were reportedly tortured bymethods including electric shock to the genitals and fingers. Their torture continued after their transfer to "Sarafand": there, Israeli soldiers beat them and subjected them to other forms of abuse between interrogation sessions.46

A recent case illustrates the continued practice of kidnap-style detentions inside Lebanon, and the secret transfer of detainees to Israel where safeguards against ill-treatment or torture are largely absent. Ali Ahmad Banjak, a Lebanese citizen, was allegedly seized by SLA intelligence operatives near Sidon, on August 15, 1996. According to Hasan Abu Ahmad, a Nazareth-based attorney who represented Banjak in Israeli court, Banjak stated that he was rendered unconscious when undercover SLA agents posing as the driver and passengers in a taxi in which he was riding covered his mouth with a cloth drenched with an unspecified drug. When he awoke, he found himself in what Banjak believed to be an SLA camp in south Lebanon, where he was informed by an Israeli officer that he would be taken to Israel.

In a sworn affidavit recorded by his lawyer, Banjak described systematic torture during the period of prolonged incommunicado detention after his arrest. He said that during thirty days of military interrogation at an IDF base inside Israel, identified to him as "Sarafand," he had been submitted to a routine of beatings, slappings, threats, and being forced to straddle a wooden pole on which he was raised and dropped. A doctor in attendance is alleged to have authorized further torture even after the detainee was vomiting blood. Although Tamar Pelleg-Sryck, the Israeli lawyer who took the testimony, demanded an independent inquiry into the treatment described to her, the military prosecutor turned down this request, saying that the complaint would be addressed adequately during Banjak's trial. (See Appendix A.)

Torture is a grave breach of the Fourth Geneva Convention and a war crime. All parties to that convention have an obligation to try persons responsible for acts of torture and ill-treatment. Torture is also among the acts prohibited by Article 3, common to the four Geneva Conventions, in non-international armed conflicts.

Access to family visits and correspondence

International human rights and humanitarian law guarantees all detainees and prisoners the general right to correspond with and receive visits from family members.47 The ICRC delivers correspondence to and from relativesof Lebanese detainees other than Obeid and al-Dirani. Israeli authorities generally allow visits to security prisoners (i.e., those convicted under the DER and provisions of the Penal Code prohibiting attacks against the state and state security) and administrative detainees once every fifteen days. The Israel Prison Service normally permits visits to security prisoners and detainees only from parents and from siblings and children under sixteen years of age. Through ad hoc arrangements with prison authorities, these limitations on eligible family members are sometimes relaxed.

Although most of the non-Palestinian Arab detainees other than the twenty-one who are the focus of this report are now allowed visits, the travel restrictions between Israel and many of the states in which the detainees' families live often deprive them of direct contact with family members.

In many cases, in particular those of Lebanese and Syrian nationals, the existence of a de facto or formal state of war and the lack of diplomatic relations between Israel and many Arab states have deprived the prisoner and his family of regular direct contact, sometimes for periods lasting several years. On the other hand, the signing of the peace treaty between Israel and Jordan in 1994 and between Israel and Egypt in 1979 facilitated family visits for Jordanian and Egyptian prisoners. For example, in 1995, the ICRC arranged for ninety-seven Jordanians to visit twenty-four relatives in six places of detention.48 Israel has also allowed family visits from Lebanese with Western passports, which in the past have been arranged through the ICRC, and from relatives and "adoptive" families residing in Israel and the West Bank and Gaza Strip. However, during closures of these areas, and in particular since the suicide bombings of February and March 1996, visits from West Bank and Gaza Strip "adoptive" families have not been allowed. Residents of occupied south Lebanon who are on good terms with the occupation authorities are allowed to visit their relatives in Israel on an ad hoc basis.

Outside of these categories of persons, family visits occur only rarely. For example, after the Israeli government responded to an ICRC intervention and allowed four Syrian mothers to pay their sons three-hour visits in Israeli jails on February 12, 1997, an Israeli military official termed the authorization "exceptional."49 In an effort to fill this gap, the Mandela Institute in Ramallah, the Society of the Friends of Detainees and Prisoners in Nazareth, and other support groups for security prisoners and detainees in Israeli detention centers frequently seek to visit some of the prisoners and detainees and deliver food and family correspondence, although prison authorities have in many instances suspended these visiting privileges.

The unpredictable nature of family contact for Arab prisoners and detainees is exemplified by the situation of released prisoner Jamal Mahroum, a Lebanese citizen from Beirut who was arrested on May 19, 1983 in Ramallah as he was preparing to carry out an armed operation in Israel. He was tried and convicted for illegally entering into Israel and for planning to carry out a military operation. He spent eleven years in Israeli detention centers and prisons during which he reportedly received only three visits from family members. The ICRC facilitated a half-hour visit from Mahroum's mother in Ramleh detention center during his trial in 1983. The next visit came in 1986, after friends from Hebron arranged for the issuance of visit permits to his sister and mother, who were identified as theirown relatives. After his mother and sister entered the West Bank, they traveled to Ashkelon prison and spent forty-five minutes with Mahroum. In the middle of 1988, the ICRC arranged to drive Mahroum's mother from the Lebanese border to Kfar Yona prison. He received no other visits from his family until his release in 1994.50

Human Rights Watch understands that a number of organizations, principal among them the ICRC, are willing to arrange and finance family visits for security detainees, including the Lebanese. In recent years, these visits have not taken place on a systematic basis for all security prisoners and detainees.

Denying access to families

The ability of the twenty-one detainees who are the focus of this report to maintain contact with their families, whether through correspondence or visits, has been more constrained than that of other non-Palestinian Arab detainees. Of the eleven detainees who have served prison sentences, five are believed to have received family visits, although all such access appears to have been denied in recent years. The six detainees arrested in and around Beirut by the Lebanese Forces in late 1987-Husein Ahmad, Husein Rumeiti, Ahmad Jalloul, Ahmad Talib, Husein Tlayis, and Ghassan al-Dirani-have received no family visits in the seven years they have been in Israeli custody.51

The denial of family visits has been described by Israeli authorities as a means of putting pressure on entities in Lebanon to provide information about MIA Ron Arad. According to Amnesty International, when the mother of Ghassan al-Dirani, who had managed to gain entry into Israel, sought to visit her son at Ayalon prison, she was immediately expelled from the country. An IDF spokesman justified the refusal to allow al-Dirani to see his mother as follows:

The action was in line with Israeli army policy involving any detainee who is linked in any way to the Ron Arad affair. As long as there is no news of Ron Arad, there will be no meetings with [Lebanese] detainees in Israel and no information about the detainees will be released.52

At the same time, nineteen of the detainees who are the focus of this report have in the past been able to receive other visitors, including from local support groups. However, this access in turn has recently been restricted as well. Since September 1996, the Mandela Institute and the SFDP have not been able to visit the eighteen detainees currently in Ayalon.

In mid-January 1997, Azmi Beshara, a member of the Israeli Knesset and an advocate on behalf of security detainees in Israel, wrote to Minister of Internal Security Avigdor Kahalani to protest the conditions in which the Ramleh detainees were kept and to ask for permission to visit them. Kahalani postponed the request, stating that "security conditions established that meetings between members of the public and the Lebanese administrative detainees are likely to obstruct [the Ministry's] work, which is extremely sensitive."53 In response, MK Beshara petitioned the High Court to secure permission to visit.54 A hearing on the question has been set for October 8, 1997.

Israel's treatment of Sheikh Obeid and Mustafa al-Dirani with regard to family visits and correspondence has been more restrictive than toward other Lebanese detainees and prisoners. Their families have had no contact with the two detained men since their respective apprehensions in 1989 and 1994 with the exception of a short, three-line letter from each delivered in October 1996 by Bernd Schmidbauer, the German intermediary. Their families were in turn allowed to respond in letters of the same length.55

Zeinab Amin, the wife of Mustafa al-Dirani, expressed her frustration to Human Rights Watch in August 1996: "After over two years we know nothing. I've visited most of the embassies in Beirut, and when we ask about [my husband], they ask us about Ron Arad." She expressed particular concern about the lack of information about her husband's medical condition, noting that he has permanent neurological damage in his extremities caused by shrapnel injuries to his neck and back in 1984, and had been taking medication between February 1993 and the time of his capture.56

Israel's years-long prohibition of even censored correspondence between Sheikh Obeid and Mustafa al-Dirani and their families violates the guarantees of international human rights and humanitarian law, even under the most restrictive standards set forth in Article 5 of the Fourth Geneva Convention. At the very least, Israel must allow the exchange of correspondence containing personal and family news between these two detainees and their families.

Denying the ICRC access

Persons detained in connection with an international armed conflict have the general right to be visited by delegates of the ICRC. According to the terms of an agreement concluded between the Israeli authorities and the ICRC in 1977, the ICRC must be notified of arrests within twelve days and have personal access to them within fourteen days. The ICRC's regular programs of visits to security detainees represent an important safeguard of a broad range of rights.

Normally, the ICRC receives notification of arrest on the twelfth day of detention, after which it notifies the family through its offices in Beirut, Damascus and other Arab cities. Thus, for most detainees currently in Israeli detention, the family had to wait for at least twelve days in order to receive formal notification of the arrest. As a result of a petition to the Israeli High Court of Justice, the State Attorney's representative announced new arrangements in February 1996 for notification upon arrest, without delay, to a telephone number given by the detained person.

Israel has in some cases refused ICRC access to security detainees. For ten years, until 1995, the Israeli authorities and the SLA refused to grant the ICRC access to the Khiyam detention center in south Lebanon,57 in which many Lebanese detainees are interrogated before being taken to Israel. While the SLA formally runs the Khiyam center, Khiyam is in an area of south Lebanon under Israeli control and the SLA is a force financed and trained by the Israelis. Based on testimony gathered in the early 1990s, Israeli officials were involved in the supervision of the detention center.58 The ICRC has not been granted access to Sheikh Obeid and Mustafa al-Dirani since their arrests.Other detainees inside Israel were also prevented from seeing ICRC delegates: The ICRC reported that in 1994 it visited for the first time nine Lebanese detainees held in Israel "who had been hidden from [it] for several years."59

41 For a report on conditions in Khiyam, see Amnesty International, Israel/South Lebanon: The Khiam Detainees: Torture and Ill-Treatment (London: Amnesty International, 1992). According to Lebanese sources, Khiyam presently holds approximately 150 detainees.

Other interrogation sections of detention centers, such as that of Megiddo in northern Israel, once were used to interrogate Lebanese detainees but have been closed.

42 Human Rights Watch/Middle East interview with Lea Tsemel, Jerusalem, December 27, 1996.

43 Yossi Melman, "A Little Less Alone," Ha'aretz, August 3, 1997; Human Rights Watch telephone interview, September 9, 1997.

44 See, e.g., Human Rights Watch/Middle East, Torture and Ill-treatment: Israel's Interrogation of Palestinians from the Occupied Territories (New York: Human Rights Watch, 1994).

45 See B'Tselem, "Legitimizing Torture: The Israeli High Court of Justice Rulings in the Bilbeisi, Hamdan, and Mubarak Cases," January 1991, pp. 14-19. See also Serge Schmemann, "In Israel, Coercing Prisoners is Becoming the Law of the Land," New York Times, May 8, 1997, p. A1; Letter from Human Rights Watch/Middle East to Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, November 27, 1996.

46 See Amnesty International, Israel / South Lebanon: Israel's Forgotten Hostages: Lebanese Detainees in Israel and Khiam

Detention Centre (MDE 15/18/97, July 1997), pp. 6-8.

47 The Body of Principles for the Protection of All Persons under Any Form of Detention or Imprisonment, G.A. Res. 173 (XLIII), December 9, 1988 (hereinafter Body of Principles), which were formulated "for the protection of all persons under any form of detention or imprisonment," stipulate that "[a] detained or imprisoned person shall have the right to be visited by and to correspond with, in particular, members of his family and shall be given adequate opportunity to communicate with the outside world, subject to reasonable conditions and restrictions as specified by law or lawful regulations." Principle 19.

The Third and Fourth Geneva conventions permit prisoners of war and internees "to send and receive letters and cards," subject to the detaining power's right to censor. Third Geneva Convention, arts. 71, 76; Fourth Geneva Convention, arts. 107, 112. Under both conventions, "[a]ny prohibition of correspondence ordered by Parties to the conflict, either for military or political reasons, shall be only temporary and its duration shall be as short as possible." Third Geneva Convention, art. 76; Fourth Geneva Convention, art. 112.

Interned civilians from occupied territory and detainees and prisoners held for offenses not connected to an international armed conflict must be permitted visits from family members. Article 27 of the Fourth Geneva Convention requires "respect for the family rights of protected persons," while Article 116 states that "every internee shall be allowed to receive visitors, especially near relatives, at regular intervals and as frequently as possible."

Given the potential ease of travel within the countries involved in the Israel-Lebanon conflict, Israel's practice of allowing some family visits for most Lebanese detainees, and the standards enunciated in the 1988 Body of Principles cited above, Human RightsWatch calls on Israel to extend the general right to receive family visits to all Lebanese in its custody.

Under international humanitarian law, the right to correspond with and receive visits from family members is most circumscribed for civilians detained in occupied territory as spies, saboteurs, or persons under definite suspicion of activity hostile to the security of the occupying power. Under Article 5 of the Fourth Geneva Convention, these persons forfeit their rights to communication under that convention, but only in cases where "absolute military security so requires." Israel must restore these rights "at the earliest date consistent with the security of the . . . Occupying Power."

48 International Committee of the Red Cross, Annual Report 1995 (Geneva: International Committee of the Red Cross, 1996), p. 232.

49 "Syrian Mothers Allowed to Visit Sons Imprisoned in Israel," Agence France-Presse, February 13, 1997.

50 Human Rights Watch/Middle East telephone interview, Beirut, March 11, 1997.

51 Amnesty International, "Israel's Forgotten Hostages," p. 10.

52 Ibid.

53 Moshe Reinfeld, "MK's Request to Visit 18 Lebanese Administrative Detainees Postponed," Ha'aretz, January 22, 1997.

54 Moshe Reinfeld, "Today High Court of Justice Will Discuss the Petition of Lebanese Administrative Detainees in the Issue of Detention in Israel, Ha'aretz, February 17, 1997.

55 Human Rights Watch/Middle East telephone interview with Zeinab Amin, wife of Mustafa al-Dirani, Beirut, March 14, 1997.

56 Human Rights Watch/Middle East interview, Qasernaba, Lebanon, August 8, 1996.

57 International Committee of the Red Cross, Annual Report 1995, p. 233.

58 Amnesty International, The Khiam Detainees: Torture and Ill-treatment, pp. 9-17.

59 International Committee of the Red Cross, "Annual Report 1994: Israel, the Occupied Territories and the Autonomous Territories," May 30, 1995 (