FROM: The Public Committee Against Torture in Israel (PCATI)

Why should the debate on the need for torture in Israel be taken beyond the borders of Israel?

The Public Committee Against Torture in Israel aims at strengthening democracy and the rule of law by defending human and civil rights.

It is possible to expose, document and debate the violation of human rights with relative freedom. This is a result of the work of human rights organizations and contributes much to the improvement of the Israel's public standing in the world.

The Public Committee Against Torture in Israel believes that the use of torture as a method undermines the foundations of democracy in an enlightened state, is contrary to the Basic Law: Dignity and Freedom and also to the Penal Law, the laws of evidence and the UN international convention against Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment which was signed by the state of Israel in 1991.

In spite of its unique circumstances and the constant threat of terror, the state of Israel can not allow itself to be the only nation in the world which permits the use of torture by law. International dialogue rooted in human rights will help keep Israel more democratic and moral.

What are the long-term effects of the use of torture on victims and their families?

The result of the years when approximately one thousand Palestinians were tortured annually by the security forces is that, immediately after their release, these people became the greatest enemies the State of Israel has. Many have also become the enemies of peace.

The families of the victims, who had been exposed to the suffering and injustice that their relatives suffered, joined the circle of hate. This further proves that torture endangers the possibility of true reconciliation between the two peoples and increases the danger of terrorism in the future by those who personally suffered from torture.

Was everyone who was tortured a "ticking bomb" ?

According to the GSS itself, a case of real and immediate danger, the hypothetical "ticking bomb" is extremely rare. The meaning of this is that most of the torture that took place in interrogation in the past is has no connection to the immediate thwarting of an act of terror.

The use of this term is dangerous because it acts emotionally on all Israelis who see themselves as potential victims of a terrorist act. None of us see ourselves as a potential victim of torture. As a result of this the Israeli public agrees to the employment of torture and disregard the inhuman, immoral and illegal aspects of these actions.

Is it possible that Israeli leaders will be brought to trial for permitting the use of torture in Israel?

If Israel enacts a law which permits the use of torture (Rubi Rivlin's bill) there will be serious damage to Israel's international standing.

Former Minister of Justice, Yossi Beilin, claims that this law would be a terrible mistake and that Israel would be the first country in the world to permit the use of torture by law. Chairman of the Foreign and Defense Committee, Dan Meridor warns that Knesset members who support the law allowing torture could be brought to trial before an international court and charged with the responsibility for Israel's policy on torture.

The deputy attorney general, attorney Mannie Mazoz, a member of the Suker-Mazoz committee, fears the serious damage that would be caused to the state of Israel following this legislation and calls for the application and carrying out of alternate means and the adaptation of the system of interrogation to international standards.

Does the prohibition of the use of torture in interrogation affect the ability of the GSS to thwart acts of terror?

In the two years following the High Court of Justice ruling, the premise that only by the use of torture enables the GSS to defend the state's security has been discredited. The source of this premise is rooted in the long years when the security services terrorized the courts, usually through confidential reports that were heard behind closed doors. Torture, house demolition, expulsion, detention without trial and land expropriation; the court bent before the security system and trampled on its way many principles of law, morality and justice. Only the years-long struggle carried out by many human rights organizations brought about the High Court of Justice decision, which is proving to be both moral and beneficial to Israel's security.

In addition, it can be learned from the achievements of similar organizations responsible for the security of other Western states that the development of improved methods of interrogation and the employment of high- quality staff in the security services has an overwhelming influence in the defense of these states from terror.

The state of Israel can learn from the example of England, a democratic country where the use of torture was stopped during the time of serious terrorist actions, which averaged 300 victims per month.