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Collective Punishment & Terrorism

Israeli Strip Searches: A Partial List

The following is a partial list documenting the use of strip searches and forced stripping as a method for humiliating men, women, and children – fishermen, women in labor, journalists, human rights workers, medical workers, and others – routinely employed by Israeli forces.

Compiled by Sarah Tiglao
If Americans Knew
Updated August 1, 2008

Children and Women (Sometimes in Labor)
Strip Searched, Cavity Searched

  • Attorney Hala Gores: “[An Israeli official] took off my top. I helped to take off my pants and didn't really say much of anything. And she had me turn around. She felt my legs; my behind. So there I was as a ten-year-old, in this little room, just about completely naked, and knew that I could not challenge what was happening and I just complied. It just feels, sitting here as an adult, that as a child I really shouldn't have had to go through that.”

    - VIDEO: “The Easiest Targets:” Five women – Palestinian, American, Muslim, Christian, and Jewish – tell stories of humiliation and harassment by Israeli border guards and airport security officials.
  • “Sometimes mothers and children are strip-searched together, at other times little girls are taken from their parents and strip-searched alone. Women are required to remove sanitary napkins, sometimes with small daughters at their side. Sometimes women are strip searched in the presence of their young sons.”

    “New Jersey stand-up comedian Maysoon Zayid describes being strip-searched at Ben Gurion Airport when she was ‘seven, eight, nine’ years old on family trips to visit her parents’ original home in Palestine. On her most recent trip in July 2006, Maysoon, an American citizen, had her sanitary pad taken by officials in Ben Gurion Airport. When the search was completed, she says, the Israeli official in charge, Inbal Sharon, then refused to return her pad or allow her to get another.

    “Zayid, who has cerebral palsy and was sitting in a wheelchair, was then forced to bleed publicly for hours while she waited for her flight.”

    “St. Louis resident Hedy Epstein, whose parents and extended family perished in Nazi camps, and whose story is featured in the Academy Award winning documentary "Into the Arms of Strangers: Stories of the Kindertransport," reports being strip searched three years ago following her participation in nonviolent protests in the West Bank. Epstein, who was 79 at the time, describes being forced to bend over for an Israeli official to search her internally.”

    - “An If Americans Knew Investigation: Humiliation and Child Abuse at Israeli Borders & Aiports – Strip-Searching Children,” Alison Weir, CounterPunch, March 15, 2007
  • Maysoon al-Hayek in testimony to B'Tselem: “...my husband told the soldiers that we wanted to get into Nablus to get to Rafidia hospital because I was in labor. Initially, the soldiers refused to let us through, but I told them I was in severe pain and about to give birth. Then, a soldier told me to uncover my belly, to make sure I was really pregnant. I uncovered my belly because of the pain I was in and so that they would let through. The soldier let us enter Nablus, this after the searches, examinations and arguments which lasted for about an hour.

    “We drove about 300 meters and got to a large ditch that had been dug in the main road where we were travelling very slowly. 30 meters past the ditch, heavy gunfire was opened toward the front of the car. It lasted for about five minutes. My husband received a direct hit to the neck, and more hits to the upper body. 'Abdullah al-Hayek, my husband's father, was also hit in the upper body. I was hit by shrapnel and glass from the broken window which spread in the car. I lay down on the back seat. After the Israeli soldiers stopped shooting, the place became completely silent. I spoke to my husband, asking him to answer me. When he didn't answer me, I realized he was in a bad condition. His father couldn't speak either. I started to scream and cry. The soldiers came toward me from in-between the houses. They examined me and tried to give me first aid. They examined my husband, Muhammad, and his father and told me that they wanted to take him to hospital in Israel because his condition was severe. As for me, the soldiers called the DCO, I think, and called a Palestinian Red Crescent Ambulance for me from Nablus. The ambulance took me to Rafidia hospital in Nablus. I was completely naked, because the soldiers took my clothes off to check if and where I had been hurt. After the examination, they left me naked.”

    - B'Tselem, “IDF shoots Palestinian woman in labor while on her way to hospital, February 2002” February 25, 2002.
  • “Sworn Statement, Maysoun Saleh Nayef Halek, 29 yrs: “My father-in-law was screaming in pain and the labour pains grew stronger. I saw a lot of soldiers in front of me. I called out at them using the word ‘baby’ which I think some understood. They started to talk to me in Hebrew as they pointed the guns towards me. They used signs and gestures. I understood that they wanted me to show them how pregnant I was which I did. One soldier asked me to take off my robe, which I did. But it was not sufficient and he asked me to remove the T-shirt and the trousers. I had no choice and I was ready to go as far as that in order to get to the hospital before it was late. He asked me to take off my underwear which I did. After this humiliation, they fetched a stretcher from one of the tanks. I was naked. I was carried to a tank and was given intravenous glucose into my arm. A few minutes later, they brought my father-in-law inside the tank. They drove for almost half an hour. I was thinking they were taking me to a nearby hospital but it turns out they were taking us back to the Huwwara checkpoint. We were taken out of the tank and were laid nude on the stretchers for almost one hour.”

    - ISRAEL’S IMPLEMENTATION OF THE UN CONVENTION ON THE ELIMINATION OF ALL FORMS OF DISCRIMINATION AGAINST WOMEN (CEDAW) IN THE OCCUPIED PALESTINIAN TERRITORIES (OPT), Palestinian Center for Human Rights, May 2005
  • “...she recounted events from her most recent stint in Israel/Palestine. My friend studies and conducts research in the region as part of her PhD program. This summer she was detained by the Israeli military at a border crossing. After answering a myriad of questions, including when she planned to leave the country, she was detained for approximately six hours. Then a female guard conducted a strip/cavity search while two male guards observed. Having found nothing, the guards eventually let my friend continue to Nazareth.However, when she arrived at the airport weeks later, airport security was expecting her. Given her name and passport number, the airport security was told to report whether she indeed left the country on the date she had previously reported.

    “As my friend told me of her experiences, she still seemed shaken. I do not know why my friend was selected for such questioning or such an intimate search of her person. Was she simply in the wrong place at the wrong time? Was she profiled because she was a student who speaks Arabic? Did she behave suspiciously? What intelligence did the military have that warranted such a search and detention? Whatever justification the military had for the search and seizure, it proved fruitless. Nothing was found. No information was gathered. My friend was and is simply an innocent American civilian. ”

    - Tara Harrison, “Cavity Searching in Israel,” The University of Utah, S.J. Quinney College of Law Blogs, October 15, 2007.
  • “’I arrived with one of my friends to the Bethlehem checkpoint, and after crossing several inspection points, we waited a little while, and while we were waiting, a group of female university students came out from one of the side rooms in tears. When we asked them why they were crying, they replied that they had been forced to strip naked during inspection. ‘

    “Manal continued: ‘I can not describe what happened to the students! They were forced to strip naked collectively in one of the rooms after women soldiers intimidated them.’ She added, ‘The female soldier asked me and my friend to enter the room for inspection, but we refused. She said that we can enter separately to be strip searched, and when we refused again she screamed at us and called us al kind of swear words. Then we got detained inside one of the room at the checkpoint, and after a number of phone calls to human rights organizations my friend and I were allowed to leave the checkpoint.’

    “Manal added that ‘On this particular day men were not inspected, but only women. This confirms that the Israeli authorities had serious intentions to humiliating us’. The young Palestinian lady also noted that, ‘if there were security reasons for this inspection, why not search all the people? Anyhow, don't the Israeli authorities refuse to grant permission for Palestinians who have security records to cross at this checkpoint? Apart from this we had already entered a number of checkpoints unscathed before this strip search; all these factors raise suspicions’.

    “Manal also stressed that stopping people at the Bethlehem checkpoint and only letting them go through after passing inspection procedures is normal, but forcing women to strip search is a new phenomenon in Bethlehem. This causes real fears among women that this procedure will become normal in the future.

    “Jamal Zahalka, an Arab member of the Israeli parliament received complaints about this matter. He responded by filing an investigation letter to the Israeli Security Minister Ehud Barak. Zahalka commented on the Israeli soldiers' demeaning act by saying, ‘There is no end to the moral degradation of the occupation, he who forces women to strip has sunk to the lowest morals level. He is a lowlife. We must stop this shameful action immediately.’”

    - Maisa Abu Ghazalah, “Israeli army forces women to strip at Bethlehem checkpoint,” IMEMC, June 28, 2007
  • "the minister of Women's Affairs in the new emergency government, condemned the behaviour of Israeli soldiers in forcing Palestinians to submit to strip searches at a military check point near Beit Safafa, north of Bethlehem.

    "In a statement received by Ma'an, Daibes declared that several Palestinian women had raised complaints with human rights organizations and had petitioned Arab members of the Israeli Knesset over being taken to separate rooms in the checkpoint and being forced to remove all clothes, to become fully naked."

    “Du'ebes has demanded that United Nations Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon, and the international community find immediate and urgent security for Palestinian women...”

    - “Khouloud Daibes: Israeli soldiers forcing women to submit to strip searches at checkpoints,”, Ma’an News Agency, June 30, 2007.
  • “I have never experienced the suffering Palestinian women undergo every day, every hour, I don't know the kind of violence that turns a woman's life into constant hell. This daily physical and mental torture of women who are deprived of their basic human rights and needs of privacy and dignity, women whose homes are broken into at any moment of day and night, who are ordered at a gun-point to strip naked in front of strangers and their own children, whose houses are demolished , who are deprived of their livelihood and of any normal family life. This is not part of my personal ordeal.”

    - Israeli mother Nurit Peled-Elhanan, Speech On International Women's Day, The European Parliament
  • “While men have also reported forms of sexual torture in jail, women prisoners are particularly vulnerable to this as a form of humiliation by their captors. Women are forced to strip naked in front of guards, many of whom are male, and subjected to brutal body searches. Many women prisoners have detailed sexual assault by Israeli military and prison staff. On some occasions women are detained as a way of threatening or putting pressure on a male member of the family.”

    “Israel’s Palestinian Prisoners: The Forgotten Facts”, Islam Online, Isabelle Humphries
  • “Sworn Statement, Amneh Jawad Ali Mona, 29 yrs: “Then the guard Sireet came and inspected me in front of all the jailers while my hands and feet were tied and my head and nose were bleeding. She opened my blouse from the front and also my pants. They insulted me using very bad words and then left.”

    - ISRAEL’S IMPLEMENTATION OF THE UN CONVENTION ON THE ELIMINATION OF ALL FORMS OF DISCRIMINATION AGAINST WOMEN (CEDAW) IN THE OCCUPIED PALESTINIAN TERRITORIES (OPT), Palestinian Center for Human Rights, May 2005
  • “The worst part of being imprisoned for Ikram was being strip-searched. While it was always a female that would search her, the male soldiers were only a few feet away with their backs turned. If Ikram refused to comply with a search, the female soldiers would often threaten to bring the male soldiers to search her instead. During these strip search sessions, Ikram felt complete degradation. She was forced to remove everything from her hijab to her underwear as the female soldiers would examine every nook and cranny of her body to make sure no names or numbers were written anywhere. Even her hair was examined strand by strand. While male prisoners are often strip-searched, a female generally holds a higher standard of bodily integrity which is completely destroyed by these constant strip-searches.”

    - Differentiates Palestinian Male from Female Prisoners and Detainees from ikram’s point of view, Appendix to Addameer report
  • Israeli Gila Svirsky, 1996: “Have you heard about the incidents of 17 Palestinian women in Hebron who have been strip-searched by Israeli police looking for weapons? The B'Tselem human rights organization did excellent work in learning about this, documenting it, and publicizing it.

    “On Sunday, 40 Israeli women went to Hebron for a solidarity visit with two of the Palestinian women who had undergone a strip search. The B'Tselem fieldworker took us to the home of two of the victims and their families, with their prior agreement, of course, and we sat on their large balcony as they described the event: Israeli police entered their home, forcing the women to undress completely, doing body searches for weapons. In this case, policewomen conducted the searches, although in 2 homes, policemen were present during the undressing. No weapons were found anywhere, and no men were told to undress. This was clearly a case of harassment. We expressed our anger and shame to the women, and they expressed surprise that we had come out there just to tell them this.

    “In the next room were some 15 children, the smallest ones terrified of having Israelis in their home again, so I spent my time finding ways to get close to them, being playful in broken Arabic. On the balcony, I heard one of our women take a scarf off her neck and place it on the woman telling her story and embrace her. Another removed a peace dove pin and placed it on the other Palestinian woman. The ice broke, and soon the women were chatting, the baby (who had also been strip searched!!) was being passed from lap to lap, and we ate tangerines and sipped sweet dark coffee, trying to dissipate some of the bad feelings. It was good we had made the visit. As we were leaving, the children came over to me shyly, one by one, and shook my hand.

    “By the way, representatives of Bat Shalom, who met with the Minister of Internal Security to protest the strip searches, were told that this was not a policy. Seventeen cases in 3 months sounds a lot like policy, though.”

    - Gila Svirsky, December 31, 1996, “Strip Searches of Palestinian Women.”
  • “Before leaving Maskobiyeh, I was strip-searched and I had my hands and feet cuffed... When I arrived at Telmond, I was again strip-searched and moved to section 12 which contains isolation rooms.”

    - Addameer: Affidavit Under Oath - Yaqeen Samer Mohammad Hasarmeh
  • "One type of humiliation is the systematic harassment and strip searches targeted specifically at women at checkpoints. I have my own story to tell. I am not Palestinian. I am not Arab. I am not Jewish. I am American, and the following story happened to me the first time I visited Israel at the northern border crossing with Jordan last spring.

    “Last spring, I was on a study abroad trip in Jordan with CIEE and decided to travel with seven of my fellow Americans to Israel to visit the city of Jerusalem for three days. When my friends and I were passing at the border, things were going smoothly until they reached me at the end of the line. Not expecting to have problems crossing the border, all of my friends passed through, except one who noticed that I was being harassed. They took my passport from me and told me I had to wait while they did a security check. They held me there for 10 hours. About one hour before the border was going to close, they took me to a small room where they made me remove my clothing. They took my clothing from me and ran it through the X-ray machine. I was wearing a tank top, jeans and a pair of flip-flops, so this kind of procedure was clearly not for security.

    “After this, a man with a briefcase came, and I was told I must leave for questioning. I was taken outside, behind barbed wire into a small cubicle pumped with exceedingly cold air....I was terrified. I thought I was going to be raped sitting there alone with two men in this secluded cubicle.... When they finally returned my passport and let me go through, I broke down and started to shake and cry uncontrollably. The guards laughed and asked me why I cried. They had let me pass after all.

    “My family and friends wanted me to report this story, but when I returned to the U.S. I was still trying to comprehend what had happened to me. The blatant humiliation was unbelievable."

    The Bates Student, Senior Describes Strip-Search Experience at Israeli Border, April 3, 2007
  • “Lieutenant Colonel Geva Saguy is awaiting a court martial on several charges, including ordering the boy to strip naked, holding a burning paper under his testicles, threatening to ram a bottle into his anus and threatening to shoot him. The boy's name and age have not been revealed.”

    - Chris McGreal, “Commander charged with torturing Palestinian boy,” The Guardian, October 22, 2002.
  • “...the absolutely unimaginable strip search at the border of the 80 year old mother of a friend who wanted to go back to Jerusalem to see her daughter who was married there because her daughter was very sick and the mother could not bear the idea that the worst might happen to her daughter without having seen her once more after so many years. Her son who was my friend, went beserk at the Israeli border when he discovered that they had strip-searched his Mom (and more besides!) and was arrested and temporarily detained while his Mom went on.... luckily my friend had a US passport and therefore did not disappear into jail for long...but he says he asked the Israeli guards why did they do this to his old mother...and they said ‘We don't want you Jerusalemites to make it a habit to come back to Jerusalem!!’ He never did see Jerusalem which he had longed to see again after so many years ~he was released and sent back to Amman instead...”

    - Eugenie Trone, Letter to Editor, The Ethical Spectacle, February 2001.
  • “Many children are being subject to torture and several have required medical treatment as a result of this torture, including 15-year old Mohammed Zaour, currently in Telmond Prison, who was stripped naked and had boiling water followed by freezing water repeatedly poured over his head.”

    - Defence for Children Iternational, Defence for Children International/Palestine Section meets with U.N Human Rights Inquiry Commission, February 17, 2001.
  • “Ezzat then witnessed the soldier in the black T-shirt and the female soldier leading his sisters and mother to one of the rooms close to the boys’ bedroom. They closed the door of the room but Ezzat could hear the soldiers shouting at them. He overheard the soldier telling the female soldier to hit his mother because she was refusing to take her clothes off to be searched. After the incident was over Ezzat’s sister informed him that they were all strip searched by the female soldier, while the male soldier waited outside.”

    - Defence for Children International, “ 10-year-old subjected to torture by Israeli soldiers” July 2, 2008.
  • Khalid Raja Abdel Mohsen Taha from Hebron
    “Khalid was 17 when he was arrested by Israeli troops at his home in Hebron on 30 August 2004. In an affidavit, he describes his experience during detention and interrogation:

    “‘...I was taken to the District Coordination Office (DCO) in Hebron, where I was held for two hours before being transferred to Etzion detention centre, where I spent five hours standing outside, handcuffed and blindfolded. The soldiers carried out a strip search, and then took me to Ashkelon detention centre, where they conducted another strip search and then they started to interrogate me.’”

    - Defence for Children International, “Surviving the Present, Facing the Future: An Analysis of Human Rights Violations Against Palestinian Children in 2004,” April 2005.
  • Transferring the Child Prisoner from the Place of Detention to Military Court

    “Prior to transfer, the child is strip searched and his/her hands and feet are tightly bound.”

    - Defence for Children International, “Palestinian Child Political Prisoners: 2006 Report,” .
  • “During the raid, Israeli soldiers forcibly entered the home of Ghazi ‘Abd al-Hakim Sawalha, forced the inhabitants, including the children, outside of the home, where they were then forced to strip naked and were beaten. As a result of the beating, Ghazi’s wife, who was pregnant at the time, miscarried. The humiliation and suffering experienced by the Sawalha family is not unique: it is the common thread that joins their story with those of others whose homes and bodies have been violated by Israeli occupation forces.”

    - Defence for Children International, “Annual Report, 200.”
  • “...Riham As'ad Muhammad al-Shaikh Musa, is 15 years old from Tulkarem refugee camp. She comes from a large family of 9, who have suffered from financial problems since the death of their father. Riham was on her way to visit some relatives in al-Tira on February 20, but at a checkpoint en route, she was shot several times by Israeli soldiers who accused her of trying to stab one of them with a knife...

    “On 27 March 2003, Riham gave the following sworn affidavit to the DCI lawyer about the events of February 20 2003:

    “.....‘When the soldiers saw me, they opened fire on me and I was hit in the stomach, although I didn't fall to the ground. I kept standing in the same spot, not moving, so that they would stop shooting. However, another soldier shot me in the leg and then I fell to the ground. Many soldiers appeared and started to cordon off the area, but none of them came near me. They asked me - from a distance - to take all my clothes off including my underwear, so that they could examine them. I said not unless they brought me a cover, so they did that and I took my clothes off under the cover, and put them on one side. They took them, even though I was wounded and bleeding.

    “‘After this, they took me in an ambulance to (Ma'ir) hospital (in Kufr Saba). I lost consciousness in the ambulance and when I woke up it was Saturday, which means that I was unconscious from Thursday 20 February to the afternoon of Saturday 22 February. I remained in that hospital for 2 weeks.’”

    - Defence for Children International, “Children Behind Bars: Issue 13,” April 8, 2003.
  • “The two children arrested along with Bassem were forced to remove their clothes down to their underwear at the time of their arrest. They were kept in their underwear without clothes for the two days of detention and were released in this state very late on Wednesday night. They spent most of the time handcuffed and blindfolded and were given very poor food and no access to medical services. One of the detainees held with them was epileptic and not provided with his required medication.”

    - Defence for Children International, “Violations of Palestinian Children's Rights, Submitted to the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights,” April 19, 2002.
  • “After they exited the house, the soldiers ordered the women and children to sit on the ground. They handcuffed Khaled, Mu’ath (17), Bilal (15), and Omar (15), and sat them down on the ground with their backs facing the women and children. The soldiers then started to beat them, hitting them with their guns and kicking them, as the women and children looked on. Testimonies from two eyewitnesses indicate the soldiers beat the two younger boys, Bilal and Omar, more than the others. Khaled tried to reason with the soldiers in Hebrew, telling them that his wife had been injured and needed medical attention. They replied by insulting him and his wife. One soldier, who was kneeling on the ground next to Nadia, laughed and verbally insulted her honour as she cried in pain and fear. Nadia reported that every few minutes a soldier would walk by and shoot the ground around where the women and children were sitting then laugh and walk away.

    “While Khaled and the three boys were beaten, one soldier ordered them to remove their clothing. They removed their shirts and trousers as they continued to be beaten. Another soldier then ordered them to remove their undergarments but Khaled refused because they were in the presence of women. The soldier once again ordered them to remove their undergarments, threatening to kill them if they did not comply. When they refused again, the soldier proceeded to fire gunshots on the ground all around their legs to further threaten and intimidate them. Khaled and the boys endured more beatings for at least another half hour and Khaled recalled hearing one of the soldiers say to another in Hebrew, ‘Let’s kill them all and be done with it.’ “...Mu’ath’s statement reveals that the soldiers subjected him to particularly harsh treatment when they learned he was Youssef’s son after he was asked to identify himself. The soldiers blindfolded Mu’ath, still stripped of his shirt and trousers, and forced him to go back inside the house as they searched its interior. One soldier grabbed him by the hair and pushed him forward into the house... “The soldiers ordered Khaled and Mu’ath to put their clothes back on, blindfolded them, and put them each in a separate jeep. The jeeps left first, taking Mu’ath and Khaled, then the helicopter, tanks and remaining soldiers began to withdraw. While inside the military jeep, Mu’ath recounts that the soldiers held him at gunpoint and tormented him. One soldier said to him while laughing, ‘Your father is dead. We killed him. He is over there (pointing) on the ground.’”

    - Defence for Children International, “Wilful killing of baby by Israeli army in Gaza house raid,” June 9, 2008.
  • “‘And because there was no one I could talk to and I felt incredible frightened and scared I tried to commit suicide while being in solitary confinement. On October 12th I was moved to Ofer military prison camp. When I arrived the soldiers asked me to take off my clothes and I was standing in my underwear. Then one of the soldiers took off even my underwear and started to use the metal detector on my naked body. While he was doing that he used his other hand to touch my body concentrating mainly on my back and bottom. This continued for a while and I was crying being terrified that something would happen.

    “‘I prefer to stay in solitary confinement in Atzion detention center rather than to be with the soldiers in Ofer military prison camp.’”

    - 12-year-old boy's affidavit, Defence for Children International, Children Behind Bars: Issue 20, November 3, 2003.
  • “Before going to the interrogation centre, I was taken to a police station. An Israeli officer there began shouting curses and threats at me. He demanded that I tell him what I had intended to do with the knife. He started to beat me with his hands. After that, a female soldier transferred me to another office and there she searched me while I was naked. She then took me to the doctor who examined me and after that she put me in an office where there were two soldiers to guard me. I was handcuffed and shackled.

    “I was then taken to Atzion and arrived there at about midnight. A doctor examined me there again. I was interrogated there for 12 continuous hours. During the interrogation they threatened to beat me if I did not confess. They cursed me and my family members. They touched certain parts of my body.

    “The interrogator said to me during the interview that they were going to transfer me to the Palestinian police so that the Palestinian police could collectively rape me.”

    - 16-year old girl quoted in Defence for Children International, “Palestinian Child Political Prisoners: Semi Annual Report 2007,” September 6, 2007.
  • “Telmond Prison... The prison authorities frequently launch surprise raids and carry out body searches, forcing the children to remove their underwear.”

    - Defence for Children International, “Children Behind Bars: Issue 12,”, March 12, 2003.
  • “Circumstances in Telmond are currently difficult with many small punishments and incidences of mistreatment which make life hard for the boys, who are all under 16.

    “One such incident happened on 13 May, when families from the Jerusalem area were allowed to visit the boys. Before the visit, prison guards searched the prisoners down to their underwear, which was a very humiliating experience, boys told the DCI lawyer. Prison guards had also searched their rooms and confiscated prayer mats. This mistreatment combined with the poor quality of the food prompted the boys to go on hunger strike for one day on May 14.

    “Ali Mughrabi, the boys representative, then asked the administration to stop these inspections and this was agreed. However, this has been agreed previously with little effect. ”

    - Defence for Children International, “Children Behind Bars: Issue 15,”, June 19, 2003.
  • “In addition to being beaten, [Palestinian child] detainees complain that they are severely humiliated by prison guards during transport between prisons or on their way to and from trial hearings. In some instances detainees complain they have been strip searched, and metal detectors are run across their naked bodies.

    Demands applicable to child detainees:

    “...Immediate cessation of strip searches.”

    - Defence for Children International, “Children Behind Bars: Issue 25,” August 18, 2004.

British Consul General Strip Searched

  • "... the British deputy ambassador to Tel Aviv was forced to strip for a security search at the Israeli prime minister's office.... described the search as a "prolonged, needless and humiliating process" and said the diplomat was “visibly upset.”

    - The Guardian, British consul strip searched at Israeli PM's office, March 28, 2007

Journalists Strip Searched

  • “...I watched as one of the Palestinian passengers exited securing his belt to his trousers. A second man followed behind and was struggling to put on his T-shirt. Immediately I realized I was not in a good place. The rooms from which they exited must be used for strip searching. Suddenly, I became nervous...

    “'Where is the money from the prize?'

    “I realized he was after the award stipend for the Martha Gellhorn Prize from the UK and I told him I did not have it with me. I’d arranged for a bank transfer rather than carry it with me. Visibly irritated the intelligence agent continued to press for money...

    “Seeing they had tapped out, he escorted me into another room, this one empty...

    “'OK take off your clothes' Avi the intelligence officer ordered.

    “I asked why. A simple pat-down would have disclosed any money belts or weapons; besides, I had already gone through an x-ray machine before entering the passport holding area.

    “He repeated the order.

    “Removing all but my underwear, I stood before Avi. In an increasingly belligerent tone he ordered, 'take off everything'.

    “'I am not taking off my underwear,' I stated. Again he ordered me to remove my underwear.

    “At this point I informed him that an escort from the Dutch embassy was currently waiting for me on the other side of the interrogation center and that I was under diplomatic transit.

    “He replied he knew that thus indicating he didn't care and again insisted I strip. Again I refused. There was no reason for me to do so.

    “At this point he placed his hand on his hip revolver and I became quite frightened. Tears welled in my eyes and I began crying, 'Why are you treating me this way?' I asked attempting to maintain my composure. 'I am human being.'

    “For a moment I flashed on the scene in the Oscar winning film, The Pianist where the Jewish man, being humiliated by a Nazi quoted Shakespeare, invoking his faith in place of written words, ‘Doth a Jew not have eyes?’ the old man queried, attempting to appeal to the humanity buried somewhere in the soul of his oppressor. Finding myself confronting the same racism and disdain I wanted to ask Avi, ‘Doth a Palestinian not have eyes?’

    “Like the Nazi, would his indoctrination inoculate him from empathy as well? Likely, I reasoned, it would.

    “Avi smirked, half chuckling as he informed me, 'This is nothing compared to what you will see now.'

    “With that the intelligence officer unholstered his weapon, pressing it to my head and with his full body weight pinning me on my side, he forcibly removed my underwear. Completely naked, I stood before him as he proceeded to feel me up one side and down the other. He knew I had no weapons. The x-ray would have shown such and once people pass through the first security check, no one is allowed to leave the area, even to go have a smoke, get food or drink.

    “Avi then proceeded to demand I do a concocted sort of dance, ordering me to move to the right and the side. When I refused, he forced me under his own power to move side to side. Terrified now, I started to cry. Backing off, he ordered me to get dressed and follow him.”

    - Mohammed Omer, “Summary of Events in Detention”
  • “As related by Andre Marty: On Friday, 12th May 2006, at around 6.30 p.m. Swiss journalist KARIN WENGER wanted to pass the Erez crossing coming into Israel from Gaza. Under the instruction of a female voice from the loudspeakers she was forced to strip, put her pants into the ex-ray-machine and to stand in her underwear and with hands up into the new body check ex-ray-machine. After having put her pants on she had to repeat this procedure six times.

    “The spokesperson of the Ministry of Defence, Rachel Naideh Ashkenazi apologised to Marty for the incident, which according to Ashkenazi - occurred because of technical failure.”

    - Foreign Press Association
  • “Once you make it past the first check, (if you make it through the first check) there's the routine metal detector and x-ray machine, followed by the side trip behind the curtains for a body search. Only, this time, I was asked to drop my pants. ‘Really?’ I asked the security officer, who seemed slightly embarrassed by it all, though, since he does it all the time, I suspect he wasn't really... The security guard said he needed to check the zipper of my jeans, though security also made other international reporters in normal pants strip before getting into the press conference.”

    – “Checkpoint Jerusalem,” blog by Dion Nissenbaum, Jerusalem bureau chief for McClatchy Newspapers, Strippin' for Cheney
  • “Bassam Wahedi got permission for emergency eye surgery in Israel to save his sight.

    “Wahedi, 28 and a journalist, said he, too, was strip-searched at Erez and taken to an underground interrogation room with a two-way mirror on the wall. Wahedi said his interrogator offered to send him to a better Israeli hospital if he agreed to collect information on militants firing rockets at Israel.

    “’You will never leave Gaza unless you support us and help us,’ Wahedi said his interrogator warned.

    “Like Hiyya, Wahedi refused the offer.”

    - “Activists: Israel pressuring ill Palestinians to be informers,” McClatchy Newspapers, October 24, 2007.
  • “Last year I arrived in Israel to help in The Times’ coverage of the Lebanon war. The country was obviously on edge, and the treatment I received was, at times, officially hostile.

    “On the way in, I was held up for more than three hours at Ben Gurion airport, languishing alongside a dozen Palestinians. After spending several weeks in Gaza, I experienced my first full-scale pants-down strip search while re-entering Israel.

    “Things really got ugly at the airport on my way out. As I returned to my bags after yet another strip search, I was informed that I (and no one else) was forbidden to carry my computer bag onto the plane.

    “’OK, fine,’ I said, not wanting to start a fight, ‘Just let me grab the book I’m reading.’

    “’No you can’t take that either. You can’t carry ANYTHING onto the plane.’”

    - Ashraf Khalil, LA Times Blog - ISRAEL: Border crossings
  • “One journalist reported being forced to strip and march at gunpoint to search offices in Ramallah during the largest and most recent IDF operation, ‘Operation Defensive Shield."’ Other civilians had similar testimony.”

    - Human Rights Watch: In a Dark Hour
  • “After that they made me go to another office and strip naked. An official came in stands next to me, while I’m naked with a machine gun in his hand.”

    - Argentine journalist Tamara Lalli quoted in ZNet Blog

Palestinians Stripped at Checkpoints

  • “The glass sheet, 30 centimetres wide and 30 centimetres long, separated me from the soldiers. I knew these two soldiers. One was a white man of medium build in his twenties. He spoke Hebrew. He asked me to take off my jacket and I did as he said. Then he asked me to remove the clothes from my upper body and my pants. I did as he said and was left in my underwear.

    “The two soldiers started laughing at me hysterically. Then the same soldier who ordered me to remove my clothes asked me to take off my shoes and turn around. I saw writing in Arabic and Hebrew on the wall of the room. It said, ‘Additional Inspection.’ Believe me, even if you shouted in your loudest voice, no one would hear you from inside that small room. The soldiers did not find any metal objects on me throughout all the inspection processes I went through. I remained naked for around half an hour. After that, without any instruction from the soldiers, I put my clothes on. I believe that this room contained surveillance cameras. After half an hour, the Israeli soldiers returned my ID and allowed me to pass through the gate to Barta'a.

    “These inspection rooms were constructed by the Israeli occupying forces at the barrier of Barta'a just two months ago. They were constructed to humiliate and suppress the citizens of Barta'a. This situation has had a negative psychological impact on its citizens. The people have become afraid to leave their village because they don't want to be subjected to humiliation in those closed rooms when they return to their village.

    “...All the male residents of Barta'a have been subjected to this type of inspection for approximately one month.”

    - Sworn Affidavit of Mahmoud Ibrahim, Al Haq, February 7, 2006.
  • “In the same period, a resident of the village was required by the forces at the gate to undress as a precondition for entry into the village.

    “These facts were reported in a letter of complaint sent by the representative of the petitioners on 9 October 2005 to the region’s Attorney General, demanding an immediate intervention to halt the harassment”

    - Al Haq, Petition for an Injunction to the Supreme Court in Jerusalem, unofficial translation.
  • “In addition to the severe restrictions on movement persistently imposed on al-Nu’man’s residents, they endure physical harassment and psychological humiliation at the checkpoint. Numerous villagers have testified that they have been ordered to remove their clothes under threat of being shot. Children have also been subjected to intimidating and degrading treatment.

    “...According to Jamal Suleiman Dir’awi, harassment increases in the evenings. He describes one of his experiences:

    “‘It was approximately 11:00 pm [on 13 May 2006]. The soldiers ordered us in Arabic  through loud speakers to take off our clothes. One of the soldiers ordered me to lift  up my shirt and pull down my trousers. I refused his demand whereas the four other  men did what the soldiers ordered them. They pulled down their trousers a little but  the soldiers constantly asked them to further remove their trousers and take them off.  The four young men also lifted their shirts up to their chins. This took place in front of  a number of the citizens of al-Nu’man. I refused to follow the soldiers’ orders and, as a  result, one of the soldiers threatened me and aimed his weapon at me but I nevertheless  continued to disobey. Eventually, they released me and I arrived in Bethlehem.’”

    - Grazia Careccia and John J. Reynolds, “Al-Nu’man Village: A Case Study of Indirect Forcible Transfer,” Al Haq, November 2006.

Strip Searches at Border Crossings & Airports

  • “Before any visitor gets in, however, he must go through a stringent security check at the Israeli terminal. Besides being examined by metal detectors, each visitor must undergo a private strip search...”

    - The New York Times, “ALLENBY BRIDGE JOURNAL; A 15-Yard Span Over a Great Divide,” Thomas L. Friedman, July 18, 1987:
  • “It's difficult to find Palestinians or Arab-Israelis who don't have at least one story about a humiliating airport security check. For many, the screening, which can include strip searches and security escorts to the gate, is seen as an unavoidable inconvenience.”

    - Dion Nissenbaum, “Treatment of Israeli official spurs look at airport security,” McClatchy Newspaper, April 2, 2007.
  • “Because Israel has full control of the Palestinian territories it occupied since 1967, it manages all border traffic.

    “...Until recently, interrogation and body searches at the airport were carried out almost exclusively on two groups only: Israel's Palestinian citizens, who comprise nearly 20% of the population, and foreign activists suspected of belonging to Palestinian solidarity movements.

    “...Palestinians with Israeli citizenship, in contrast to foreign visitors, have been subject to stringent security checks since the creation of Israel.

    “Despite Israeli claims that such checks are carried out only in the interests of ensuring the safety of passengers, Arab citizens report being treated uniformly in a humiliating manner.

    “This was highlighted last month by the experience at Ben Gurion airport of Lutfi Manshur, the editor of one of Israel's most influential Arab newspapers, al-Sinara.

    “He had been invited to join Israeli President Moshe Katsav, as the only Arab representative on a visit to France where Katsav was to speak about anti-Semitism.

    “Manshur found himself singled out from the 35-member delegation for extra security checks, including having his bags X-rayed and undergoing a body search.

    “He eventually declined to board the plane and stayed in Israel.

    “Afterwards, Manshur said: ‘I told some of my Jewish friends that I felt like a Jew in the last century. The problem is that [the security officials] were contemptuous of the president. I'm used to it. But remember, the president is going to France to talk about racism, not shellfish.&rsquo

    “After Katsav publicly denounced Manshur's treatment, the head of the Shin Bet, Avi Dichter, sent a letter to the newspaper editor to apologise for the "extensive" security procedures.”

    “...it has become apparent over the past few months that a new group has been added to the list of those likely to be humiliated at the airport: leftwing Israeli Jews.”

    “...A former airport security officer recently told Haaretz anonymously: ‘Once, every Arab was considered a terrorist. Then it was everyone who knows an Arab, and now it's anyone who knows someone who knows an Arab. Altogether that adds up to quite a few people.’”

    - Jonathan Cook, “Airport security as political bullying,” Al Jazeera online, March 12, 2004.
  • “SUZY SALAMY: I attempted to get into Israel. I flew into Ben Gurion Airport on the 4th of January, was immediately pulled aside. Once they see your passport and they see your last name—my last name is Salamy; it’s Palestinian—even though it’s an American passport, they pull you aside, and you’re held for many hours. I was held for eight hours, and during that time, I was interrogated by four different people. And they decided at the end of it that I was going to not be allowed to enter. They put me in a detention center. They strip-searched me. They put me in a detention center and then the next morning brought me directly to an airplane, Air Canada airplane.

    “AMY GOODMAN: Suzy, did you say they strip-searched you?

    “SUZY SALAMY: Oh, yes. They do that all the time to people they deem as security threats. They went through my items, you know, to see if they had any sort of bomb residue on it. And then they took me into a room and, you know, made me take off my bra, drop my pants, etc., even though I had already been there for eight hours. If anything was going to happen, it would have already happened, if I had anything on me. But, you know, the point is to humiliate and make you feel powerless.”

    - Democracy Now!, Transcript: “Entry Denied: Palestinian-Americans Among Thousands Blocked by Israel from Occupied Territories”, January 18, 2007.
  • “While Israeli security won't admit it, it is a widely accepted secret that Palestinians and Arabs get the worst of it. Arab travelers are routinely subjected to intense, hours-long questioning that can include strip searches.”

    - Dion Nissenbuam, McClatchy Newspapers, “Travelers sing the Ben Gurion blues,” July 13, 2007.
  • “[Documentary film] Marageeh's director Ramsis, an unassuming 33-year-old... On his way to Tel Aviv he transited in Brussels where he was interrogated by Mossad for four hours. He was stripped naked and a special monitor was passed over his body to make sure he wasn't ‘hiding’ anything ‘inside’. His camera was confiscated and only returned to him after his arrival in Ben Gurion airport in Tel Aviv.”

    - Amira Howeidy, “Gender and occupation in Palestine,” Al-Ahram Weekly, November 9-15, 2006, Issue No. 819.
  • “Yasser Hiyya didn't know why he was always so weak and tired until this summer, when doctors discovered a small hole in his heart. Israel gave Hiyya permission to leave the Gaza Strip last month and cross Israeli territory for immediate surgery in the Palestinian-controlled West Bank.

    “But when he arrived at the Israeli border crossing, he learned that there was a catch. In a daylong interrogation, Hiyya said, Israeli intelligence offered him a deal: Tell us about your brother, a wanted militant, and we'll let you enter Israel for the operation you need.

    “When Hiyya refused, they turned him away.

    “...For 12 hours on Sept. 18 at the Erez border crossing, Hiyya said, he was strip-searched, taken to a below-ground interrogation room and grilled about his brother.”

    - “Activists: Israel pressuring ill Palestinians to be informers,” McClatchy Newspapers, October 24, 2007.
  • “Three years ago, Salim Kayat, a 74-year-old businessman, arrived at Ben-Gurion International Airport for his flight abroad. Kayat, a member of one of the families that comprised Haifa's moneyed Arab nobility until 1948, arrived at the airport with his wife, Paula, and her elderly mother, who suffers from heart disease and sits in a wheelchair. They were bound for Italy to visit their daughters, and then to Austria, to attend the wedding of Edgar Kayat, Salim's son from a previous marriage. “According to a suit brought by the Kayats' attorneys, Alexander and Inbal Beit Halahmi, ‘they presented their luggage for security inspections, as required, and X-ray screening revealed nothing suspicious. Then, three security officials appeared and ordered them to step aside and empty their suitcases and carry-on luggage, while passing each item through an X-ray screening instrument. Here, as well, no suspicious items were revealed.’

    “At that point, Kayat showed the inspectors a certificate from the honorary consul of Spain in Haifa. But the inspectors ignored the certificate and began to search them, ‘at first, with an electronic wand, and, later, by means of very thorough use of hands, which included inspection of intimate areas.’ The latter included a body search of Kayat's elderly mother-in-law, who was lifted from her wheelchair. At the end of these inspections, Kayat was informed that he would not be permitted to board the plane with a hand-held bag containing medical instruments used to check blood pressure and blood glucose. Kayat told the security officials that without the blood glucose meter, he would be forced to fast throughout the flight. This did not persuade them to change their orders.

    “...Nearly all Israeli Arabs who travel abroad experience similar humiliation. First, security officials identify them as Arabs and ask them to leave the line of waiting passengers; then, they are asked to open their suitcases so that every item may be slowly examined, and finally they are subjected to lengthy questioning. The few Israeli Arab passengers who are willing to fly with El Al or other Israeli carriers are subjected to a similar process abroad, before boarding the plane back to Israel.”

    - Aryeh Dayan, “Come with me, please,” Haaretz, February 20, 2007.
  • “Israeli media have for several years reported on suspicions that non-Jews, including Israel's more than one million Arab citizens, are being routinely subjected to lengthy interrogations, bag checks and invasive body searches at Israeli airports and land crossings.

    “...Fairuz Nasrallah, a nurse, says she was recently stopped by Israeli officials at Charles de Gaulle airport in Paris and subjected to lengthy interrogation and a strip search after her name was revealed - she shares a common last name with the leader of Hezbollah in Lebanon, Hassan Nasrallah.

    “‘The whole time I tried to complain about their offensive attitude, but the security guards kept telling me that these were their orders and that if I chose to travel with El Al, I had to bear the consequences.’

    “As well as exhaustive luggage searches, Arab travellers are often taken to side rooms where they are made to strip before being subjected to a body search.

    “Ibtisam Maranah, a film director who represented Israel at an international film festival in the Netherlands in 2005 along with several Jewish colleagues, reports that Israeli staff took her off alone to an underground section of the Dutch airport, away from the rest of her group and local airport staff, where she was made to undress.

    “‘They were searching me underground, out of sight. Someone who has not undergone this kind of search can't imagine how humiliating it is. You aren't worth anything in this situation. At the time I thought about the Palestinians who go through the checkpoints every day - I thought about the daily searches and humiliation.’

    “Maranah has refused to travel since, despite several invitations to film festivals in the US. ‘I considered handing in my passport and identity card - what meaning does citizenship have if it makes me a victim of this kind of treatment?’”

    - Jonathan Cook, “Israeli Arabs ‘racially profiled,’” Al-Jazeera Online, January 13, 2007.
  • “After searching the suitcases, the physical search began in a side room. They removed my shoes and searched my clothes. Then they removed my pants and began to feel my clothes and body, including in the most intimate places. It really disgusted me. The physical search took about fifteen minutes. They also performed an embarrassing search like this on our friend, who is barely capable of walking.

    “...We had been delayed on our way to the plane by hours of humiliating and offensive searches, and after all that we did not even board the flight.”

    - Testimony of Hathem Habiballah, resident of Ein Mahel, The Arab Association for Human Rights, “Suspected Citizens,” April 2006.
  • “While the cameras were being inspected, another guard came up and ordered me to come for a physical search immediately, or I would be unable to complete the search process and would be late for the plane. I refused and said that the plane would have to wait, and that I would not move until they gave me the cameras and equipment. He answered rudely, ‘No plane is going to wait for you.’

    “I went for the physical search and my father waited by the suitcases. They told me to take off my shoes and pants. I couldn’t stand the shame any more and started to cry. I felt that I might collapse at any time.

    “While I was undergoing the physical search, the woman at the counter told my father that the plane and flight were closed and he should take me home. My father asked whether I could get a place on another flight, and she replied that I was losing my ticket and would have to buy a new one. My father was shocked and did not know what to say. The problem was solved when the security guards asked the women to let me through, and took me directly to the airplane.

    “After the physical search, I was the last person to hand in my bags at the desk. My father seemed very worried about what they had done to me.

    “...I said goodbye to my father in tears, and saw that he was very worried and had tears in his eyes. I thought to myself, ‘This is great! I’m going abroad to have fun and this is what they do to me...’ One of the guards accompanied me to the plane, although I was entitled to go to the duty free and have the plane wait. I cried all the way to the plane and throughout the flight. It was very difficult for me to come to terms with what I had been through. I felt really bad.

    “...I must emphasize that the rude and insulting attitude, and the lack of human respect, were reflected in every word and every glance of the inspectors. This was a very difficult and exceptional experience, unlike anything else I have ever known.”

    - Testimony of Nadin Saruji, resident of Nazareth, The Arab Association for Human Rights, “Suspected Citizens,” April 2006.
  • “Then it was time for the physical search. They told me to take my shoes off and took them off to be inspected. Then they took me to a corner of the room and shut it off with a curtain. They told me to take off all my clothes, apart from my underpants, and they even looked into my underpants. I was very angry and disgusted by their attitude. I told them that I would not remain silent about their behavior and would publish it in the press and file complaints with the relevant bodies. They coolly responded that this was a routine inspection.

    “...The interrogation lasted almost three and a half hours, including the time at the external gate, and was extremely humiliating. I never imagined that I would be forced to undergo a strip search.”

    - Testimony of ’Abud Badawi, resident of Kafr Qasem, The Arab Association for Human Rights, “Suspected Citizens,” April 2006.
  • “Then they told me to remove my jacket, shoes, and belt which they took for inspection outside the curtain. They also told me to place my wallet and mobile phone on the table. Then they began to examine my whole body with the scanner device. Suddenly the man who was inspecting me said that he wanted to check that the device was working. He said, ‘I’ve got a feeling this isn’t working properly.’ He said this in an ironic tone, as if he had expected the machine to beep when he checked me. They brought a new machine and he checked my whole body; once again, it didn’t beep.

    “He went on checking me and began to feel my shirt and pants, arms and legs, and even my intimate parts. I felt humiliated and helpless.

    “...I was very angry at the humiliating treatment, the lack of respect, and the denigration during and after the search. The other passengers on the flight were not delayed and did not go through this series of humiliations before boarding the flight. Jews go through, and Arabs are held and delayed. 350 passengers got on the plane, and no-one stopped them – they only stopped me. Why? Its pure racism.”

    - Testimony of Walid Khutba, resident of `Arabah, The Arab Association for Human Rights, “Suspected Citizens,” April 2006.
  • “I am a television and cinema producer. I come from Fureidis originally, but I now live in Tel Aviv-Jaffa. Last year, 2005, I traveled to an international film festival in Holland that intended to screen one of my films. I traveled together with Jewish colleagues to represent the State of Israel. I was the only Arab in the group...

    “Unfortunately, the humiliation didn’t end there. When I arrived at the Dutch airport to fly back to Israel, I went through the inspection by the Dutch security guards without any problem. The hair clip also beeped in the scanner, but they did not demand that I remove it. When I reached the Israeli guards from El-Al – the airline I was traveling with – they stopped me at Gate No. 8 and told me to move over to Gate No. 10. I went there, and found that this gate did not lead to the plane, but to a lower level of the airport. I went down the stairs and found a group of foreign passengers on their way to Israel. There were seven people there, and I was the only one with an Israeli passport. They began to inspect us one by one.

    “They put my bags to one side and took me into an area enclosed with curtains, I could not see what was going on around me. A woman guard from El-Al came in and told me to remove some of my clothes, and suddenly I found myself topless. This was the most humiliating and offensive part. I was representing Israel at an international festival – how could they treat me in such a humiliating way?

    “Then I took my bags and went to the plane. One of the guards accompanied me to Gate No. 8 and then to the boarding ramp. I returned to Israel. I didn’t argue with any of the guards about the humiliating inspection and search. I just put myself in their hands. I felt helpless. I felt that I couldn’t refuse. They were searching me underground, out of sight.

    “Someone who hasn’t undergone this kind of search can’t imagine how humiliating it is. You aren’t worth anything in this situation. At the time I thought about the Palestinians who go through checkpoints every day – I thought about the daily searches and humiliation. I considered handing in my passport and identity card – what meaning does citizenship have if it makes me a victim to this kind of treatment?

    “I have been invited many times to travel to the United States on work-related visits. I have not gone, because I constantly think about the humiliating inspection and search I would have to undergo at the airport. The experience has even affected my career.”

    - Testimony of Ibtisam Mar`anah, resident of Fureidis, The Arab Association for Human Rights, “Suspected Citizens,” April 2006.
  • “I just returned from a 2 week trip to the Middle East including a few days in Ramallah. I will not even mention the Israeli treatment of the Palestinians (which is horrendous) but will focus on thier treatment of me – a caucasian american. At the TelAviv airport i was held up for an hour for intensive questioning. I requested a detachable visa but they stamped my passport anyway. It took me 2 hours to drive 45 miles due to long waits at the checkpoints. On the way out of the country – my taxi driver and I were pulled over at the checkpoint 5 miles from the airport. I was kept there for 1 hour including a humilating strip search. I did hear one military official at the checkpoint say ‘forgive me it is not my fault.’ I then went through 4 seperate airport security checkpoints. Having left Ramallah 4 hours before my flight – i got to the gate with 10 minutes to spare. As an american, i have become utterly ashamed at my country’s blind support for this type of behavior. It is inhumane.”

    - Comment ‘Posted by mark,’ New York Times Blog: Nicholas D. Kristof On the Ground, June 21, 2008.
  • “My grandmother is from Jaffa, she used to tell us stories about her jewish neighbors borrowing sugar and cooking for each other...

    “My first visit to the area came in 1975 after 6years in the US, I was only 7yrs old at the time, they took me away from my mother and i had to strip to my underware; it was the most frieghtening and humiliating experience of my life, I could never understand the reason but i know heatred was created and the true knowledge of the word enemy was embeded in my mind.

    “At that time, there was no terrorist attaks, no suicide bombers, there was a clear understanding of the gorilla warfare mindset. what i am trying to say is that you harvest what you seed...”

    - Comment ‘Posted by Samer Hjaij,’ New York Times Blog: Nicholas D. Kristof On the Ground, June 21, 2008.
  • “Two months before my father died in 1994 I travelled on my Australian passport to Amman in Jordan on the way to visit my parents in the occupied West Bank.”

    “...Being identified as Bethlehem-born on my passport did not help much at the Israeli crossing at River Jordan. Like most other Western passport holding Palestinians, I had to strip naked as a condition of being grante.”

    - Comment on a blog by Abe Ata of Melbourne
  • “I heard a couple of horror stories about entering Israel. The folks who told me the stories were fine after all, if a bit scarred. They were both Americans whom I met in Jordan, and who had flown with El Al, the Israeli air carrier. Both men had been interrogated intensely before being allowed on the plane. Both had all of their clothes individually X-rayed, and one was strip searched twice. The latter had previously visited Lebanon for a week, and they wanted to know everything about his visit. Upon their arrivals in Tel Aviv, they had deja vu and instead of El Al agents, Israeli border officals held them for a hours of interrogations before letting them in, accusing them of having ‘arab contacts.’”

    - Travel Experience in Entering Israel, TravelPod Blog, March 5, 2006.
  • “ Inside the building where our documents were processed, an Israeli soldier looked up our names on a computer, and then motioned my father into a cubicle. I could hear my father’s angry voice, the insistent voice of the soldier. Suddenly my father stormed out of the cubicle and told my mother that we were going back to Jordan: he refused to submit to these conditions. The official had decided to strip-search my father, a humiliation our American passports had usually spared us. My mother was in a quandary. If we turned back, we would be abandoning the guests we had promised to accompany. Finally the situation was defused: the Israeli told my father he would only be required to take off his shirt and loosen his pants, and my father, urged by my mother, grudgingly agreed. We passed through border control without further incident. But as we seated ourselves in the Arab car that would take us to Jerusalem, I could still see the set of my father’s jaw.

    Years later, I found myself standing in a cubicle at the bridge with my sister, my pants around my ankles. The female Israeli solider who had ordered me to unclothe was writing something on a clipboard and had not bothered to glance at my naked legs to verify that I was not, in fact, concealing contraband. My jaw was so tightly clenched that my teeth ached. My sister, who had only been required to take off her shoes, raised her eyebrows and shook her head at me. But I was too upset to heed her silent warning. ‘Why do I have to take off my pants but she doesn’t have to take off her skirt?’ I demanded of the soldier. ‘If you’re worried about security, why don’t you check us both?’ Without looking up, the Israeli woman shrugged. ‘She can hide something in her shoes, you can hide something in your pants.’ I glanced at my sister, whose open sandals revealed most of her feet, but whose long skirt, unlike my tight Capri pants, could have hidden all manner of things. The point, evidently, was not security but harassment. I had revealed more resentment during our initial questioning than my sister, and I was being punished for it. I had a sudden vision of my father in perhaps that same cubicle, stripped to the waist while a bored young Israeli man wrote on a clipboard. Ten or ?fteen years had passed, but the humiliation was the same.

    Later, as my sister and I rode in a taxi through Jericho, I recalled how we had stopped in Jericho’s central market after my father had been strip-searched to purchase large burlap sacks of oranges and tangerines for our Jerusalem relatives. The purchase, I think, was more for my father than for our relatives, as if the familiar gesture of generosity could restore his sense of honor.”

    - Lisa Suhair Majaj, “Journeys to Jerusalem,” The South Atlantic Quarterly, 102:4, Fall 2003.
  • “The experience began when I crossed the Allenby Bridge from Jordan to the West Bank with the other members of my group. The foreigners and the Arabs cross separately there. We crossed with the foreigners, but as American and Canadian Arabs we were treated somewhat differently. When our names were found to be Arabic, we were detained in a room with two Palestinian American families. The ‘normal’ foreigners streamed through, even laughing when we pointed out to them that we were being treated differently.

    “The members of our delegation with darker skin were strip-searched. Even the twelve-year-old son of the Palestinian American family was strip-searched. However, due to my appearance—I am blond and have blue eyes—I was asked specifically at this point if I was an Arab. I responded with a question, ‘Why are you asking me?’ The young female border guard laughed and let me go.

    “...A soldier admitted to us that we were considered Arabs first and Americans second.”

    - Karima Bennoune, “An Arab American’s Experience in the Occupied Territories,” Journal of Palestine Studies, Vol. 17, No. 3 (Spring, 1988)
  • “Ya’aqubi was then taken into a side room and asked to remove his clothes and shoes... Ya’aqubi then underwent a body search and was asked a number of questions.

    “...‘This is the most offensive and humiliating experience I have ever had. I was immediately suspect just because I am Arab. The fact that I am an outstanding student, was traveling as a representative of an academic institution, and was selected to represent Israel at an international conference didn’t help me at all.’

    “The experience related by Salah Ya’aqubi is a classic example of the treatment encountered by Arab citizens of Israel when they come to Ben Gurion Airport in order to board international flights... This phenomenon is so widespread that it is hard to find any Arab citizen who travels abroad by air and who has not experienced a discriminatory security check at least once.

    “...After the inspection of the baggage is completed, the next stage is a physical search. The Arab passenger is led into a small room, asked to remove their shoes and belt, and their body is then searched thoroughly. The security personnel feel the passenger’s clothes and sometimes touch their intimate parts, even inserting their hands into the clothes. Passengers are often required to remove their clothes and remain only in their underwear.

    “...The sense of humiliation was particularly strong during the physical search, due to the manner in which it is carried out and the injury to personal modesty.

    “...After the questioning comes the physical search. In many cases, the security guards order the Arab passenger to remove all their clothes, apart from their undergarments, and undertake a detailed search of their body, touching their intimate parts.”

    - The Arab Association for Human Rights and The Centre Against Racism, “Suspected Citizens: Racial Profiling against Arab Passengers by Israeli Airports and Airlines,” December 2006.
  • “...After a young woman told me that she need to check my body, and with a smile in my face i answered, ‘OK, no problem’, when she was checking me she told me whispering ‘i am sorry, but is my work, can you take of all your clothes?’, i answer yes, but i want to keep my t shirt (i didn't want to show my tattoo), well, she checked me all, open your legs, close your legs, sit here, up and open your legs again, etc... like last year.”

    - Nadia Hasan, quoted by Sabbah, “Interrogation and Denial: How Israel Keeps Palestinians Down and Out,” Daily Kos, May 4, 2007.
  • “It occurred to me while the soldier was making me pull down my pants to check for weapons with her magnetic wand and her hands. She asked me, ‘do you have a weapon?’ Of course, I said no, because I didn't. But, as I watched her search my body I looked down to notice that I was fingering a pen in my hand and thought to myself, well, yes, in fact, I do have a weapon. It's my pen. Indeed, as I wrote down notes for this blog on a piece of paper as they looked carefully at each piece of underwear very carefully, each drop of shampoo, each q-tip, one of the soliders told me to stop writing and came glance over my shoulder at my scribbles. They wanted to take my paper and see what I was writing, but I refused to let them see. Fortunately, they didn't push the issue.”

    - Dr. Marcy Newman, “‘every tool is a weapon if you hold it right’” body on the line blog
  • “He looks me dead in the eyes and points to my shirt; as I stare back into his cold eyes, I realize what is happening: I’m being subjected to my first official strip search. There is a moment of static in my mind, and as I begin to lift my shirt, off in the distance I start to hear the ascending notes to Right Said Fred’s 1992 one hit wonder ‘I’m Too Sexy’. My shoulders begin to inevitably bounce as I hand him my shirt, and at first my movements are concealed and he pays them no attention, but by the time he is feeling the lining of my shoes for concealed weapons and flattening my socks looking for my drug stash I am smiling and my upper body is going though controlled miniature convulsions.”

    - Sky Cohen, “How Friere’s ‘Pedagogy of Hope’ Almost Saved Me, but Ultimately Was One of the Implicators of My Status as a Thought Criminal.,” Blog: once told, April 29, 2008.
  • “...she called me at 1:30 in the afternoon from the bus to Jerusalem – after 5.5 hours at the border and a strip search, to tell me that she made it.”

    - Sahar, “Strip Searches and Refugee Camps,” Blog: Standing Witness, October 15, 2005
  • “’OK, sure, but I think you mean a strip search?’

    “[I had my first Dec. 2005, triggered because I had Palestinian NONVIOLENT literature in my suitcase.]

    “She didn’t respond and led me to the examining room where my shoes, belt, and jewelry came off and she told me to sit down and she would be right back. After my shoes and belt passed the x-ray inspection, she returned to me and told me to extend my legs so she could pat them down. Then she instructed me to stand up and hold my arms out so she could wand me all over. The wand kept alarming in the vicinity of the metal buttons and rivets on my jeans. She said, ‘Have a seat; I must get my supervisor.’

    “She returned with a young woman, who also never made eye contact with me and commanded, “You need to drop your pants around your knees.”

    “I complied and after she wanded me all over she turned and left, and I called to her back, ‘Did I pass the inspection? Can I get dressed?’

    She never responded but my first ‘companion’ said ‘Yes.’

    - Eileen Fleming, “Telling the Truth at Ben Gurion...”, May 26, 2008.
  • “While the practice is widely applied, many people find it too humiliating to speak of. One 68-year-old Christian businessman, who had been stripped naked at Ben Gurion airport in 2006 before being allowed to board his flight to return home, had never revealed his experience to his family until he learned of the If Americans Knew investigation. He then explained to his daughter why he had previously told her that he might never return to his original home, now in the state of Israel.”

    - Alison Weir, “An If Americans Knew Investigation: Humiliation and Child Abuse at Israeli Borders & Aiports – Strip-Searching Children,” CounterPunch, March 15, 2007.
  • “You see everything in Israel is color-coded and segregated: different colored-Ids; different-colored license plates; ‘Arab rooms’ in the airport where we get the 4-hour interrogation/strip-search special while Jewish travelers walk through security in minutes; and special foreigner border points across the Jordan river so tourists will not see the day-long torture sessions ordinary Palestinians have to twice endure every time they need to travel abroad through Jordan.”

    - “A stranger on my own land,” Trip to Palestine, July 19-25, 2004.

Prisoners Strip Searched

  • B'Tselem found in May 2007 that 2/3 of [detainees] surveyed had been subjected to abuse: "The [Israeli] interrogation system includes seven key aspects which harm, to varying degrees, the dignity and bodily integrity of the detainees." Category 5 is "cursing, strip searches, shouting, spitting etc."

    - B'Tselem, “Absolute Prohibition: The Torture and Ill-Treatment of Palestinian Detainees,” May 2007, Joint report with Hamoked - Center for the Defence of the Individual, Summary.
  • “Just yesterday, Israeli prison authorities violently assaulted detainees in Nafha Prison, using special forces and dogs to attack the prison cells and to physically abuse the detainees and strip search them.”

    - Identical letters dated 15 August 2007 from the Permanent Observer of Palestine to the United Nations addressed to the Secretary-General and the President of the Security Council.
  • “At the beginning, I would like to talk about stripping off the clothes of prisoners, which has been used for a long time. However, in 2001, the arrogance of the occupation increased and stripping off the clothes of prisoners occurs at any time and soldiers have the right to order any prisoner to strip off his clothes whenever they want especially if they suspect a prisoner. Not only this but also there are types of stripping. Every prison has its own style and every soldier has his own way. For example, in Jalbou' Prison, one of the prison guards ordered me to stand opposite to him in a room where he and I were alone and asked me to take off my clothes piece by piece, wave by every piece and then put it on the floor. After I took off almost all my clothes (99 percent) and only my underwear was left, he cuffed my hands to the back, fiercely took off my underwear and ordered me to sit on the floor and then stand up. After I did that several times he ordered me to put on my clothes after he uncuffed my hands and went out of the room. In al-Damoun Prison, stripping is different. I was received by four policemen and four officers, who forced me to strip off my clothes in front of them. The only piece left on my body was my underwear, which they took off with a fierce movement after they cuffed my hands to my back. Then they ordered me to sit on the floor and stand up several times and then ordered me to put on my clothes. Every time this happened with me, I felt that I was raped.”

    - Sworn affidavit of Sami Yousef, Al Haq, July 4, 2005.
  • “There, we were forced under the threat of arms and curses, to take off our clothes. We remained in our underwear in front of the occupying forces; both male and female eyes were on us. They were using very bad words and pointing at us in a humiliating manner.

    “They tied our hands behind our backs with plastic cuffs and we were carried in military vehicles to unknown places. I later learned that we were in Ferdrigo Military Camp near Jericho. We stayed there three hours, naked and handcuffed. They released our cuffs temporarily and moved them from behind our backs to the front. Female soldiers, acting rude and naughty, photographed us while we were naked. Then they brought our clothes and questioned us. We were released the next morning, Wednesday, 15 March 2006.”

    - Sworn affidavit of Ibrahim 'Abdallah, Al Haq, March 19, 2006.
  • "Some 2,400 Palestinian political prisoners in Israeli Al Naqab Prison are on hunger strike this week in protest of routinely being stripped naked.

    "The naked body searches are described as humiliating and sometime Israeli prison authorities conduct them against political prisoners' parents and other family members during visits."

    - Palestine News Network,“Palestinian political prisoners hunger strike against strip searches,” Network for the Freedom of All Political Prisoners, August 24, 2006.
  • “The plight of the 8,400 Palestinian political prisoners has attracted little attention outside Israel, even though there have been warnings from human rights groups about the dire conditions they endure and reports of abuse at the hands of guards, including a widespread policy of strip searching and severe beatings for those who refuse.

    “...Many prisoners have complained to their lawyers that even when their families are allowed to see them -- often after being held up for many hours at checkpoints -- they are strip- searched, offered no visitor facilities and allowed only a few minutes of contact.

    “...Strip-searching has resulted in an increasingly hostile environment in many jails and several violent attacks by guards on prisoners. The worst incidents have occurred in two neighbouring prisons in the Lower Galilee, Shatta and Gilboa jails.

    Last month the Public Committee Against Torture in Israel decried an incident, following a fight between an inmate and a guard, in which a special unit, the Nachshon, stormed a ward in the Gilboa prison and sprayed tear gas into the cells. The ward's prisoners were forcibly removed from their cells, they had their hands tied behind their backs and were forced to kneel in the yard in the midday sun. Severe beatings with batons resulted in more than a dozen prisoners being badly injured.

    Another disturbing incident, which occurred in January, only came to light recently after the mother of one of the inmates concerned was able to visit her son.

    Diana Hussein, aged 44, found out that her 18-year-old son, Rabiah, and two other prisoners had been left unconscious by a beating from guards after they refused to undergo a strip search in Shatta jail during a Muslim religious festival. According to reports, the guards then attempted to rape the three inmates.

    Rabiah was placed in isolation for several weeks and refused access to a doctor. Unable to walk, he had to be carried to the bathroom for many days by other inmates. His mother says he is still in severe pain and has difficulty moving. ‘The doctors are refusing to treat him and giving him only Acamol [a mild, paracetamol-based pain killer],’ she said.”

    - Jonathan Cook, “Israel's Abu Ghraib,” Al-Ahram Weekly, August 12-18, 2004.
  • “Israeli Army officials ordered inmates to strip to their underwear, which many did, marching out with clothing on their heads, an embarrassing and completely unnecessary provocation that trampled the dignity of any Palestinian watching that spectacle.”
    - New York Times Editorial, “As if That Fire Needed Fuel,” March 16, 2006.
  • “During 10 hours of testimony, Dirani presented a horrifying account of his treatment by the army. He said that after he was captured six soldiers stripped him naked, shackled him and brutally interrogated him around the clock on the whereabouts of Arad.

    “Interrogators alternately splashed him with hot and freezing water, shook him until he fainted, squeezed his testicles, sodomised him and sexually assaulted him with a stick, he said. ‘I would pray that I'd die.’ He accused an army intelligence officer known to him only as ‘Major George’ of coordinating the torture.

    “Dirani testified that one uniformed soldier named Kojak was ordered to force him down on to a bench. ‘I couldn't see or resist ... I was raped by the soldier. He said he would rape me, and he did,’ he told the court. ‘Two or three days later they started raping me with a police baton. It's impossible to describe the pain. I yelled to high heaven.’

    “Lawyers representing the state have argued that Dirani's suit is ‘an insurance policy’ he needed to create before his return to Lebanon so that he would not be criticised for divulging information to Israel.

    “However, Dirani's account has been confirmed by several former soldiers who served at the same prison. One has said: ‘I know that it was customary to threaten to insert a stick if the subject did not talk.’

    “A petition signed last year by 60 officers in defence of ‘George’ does not deny that such practices were employed, only that it is unfair to victimise him for using working methods standard in military intelligence. ‘George‘ has also admitted that it was normal practice for detainees to be naked while being interrogated.

    “But the biggest blow to the state defence team came last week when a video was handed to Israeli television showing a former interrogator whose identity was concealed talking about George.

    “‘I remember one instance that I still feel until today, which makes me shudder, in which a baton was used -- not for hitting,’ he said. ‘Even in the field, George did what he wanted, in front of my eyes and the eyes of everyone else.’”

    - Jonathan Cook, “‘I would pray that I'd die’“, Al-Ahram Weekly, February 5-11, 2004.
  • “Palestinian detainees have submitted demands particularly focused on: ...stopping the humiliating daily strip searches;

    “...They regularly undergo frustrating and deplorable treatments such as humiliating strip searches, while they are naked, before leaving their cells, including when they are going to meet with the doctor of the center or their lawyers.”

    - Palestinian Human Rights Monitoring Group Press Release, “The PHRMG expresses its maximum solidarity supporting Palestinian Political Prisoners,” August 27, 2004:
  • “According to testimonies of those who have been recently released, detainees were subjected to insults and degrading treatment, including being forced to stand naked outdoors in the rain with their hands and feet bound.”

    - Palestinian Center for Human Rights, “Fear of Torture and Ill-Treatment of Thousands of Palestinians Detained by Israeli Occupying Forces,” April 9, 2002.
  • Another common practice, which according to the testimonies was exploited by the soldiers to humiliate the detainees, was body searches during intake at the detention facility. Some of the interviewees reported that, during these searches, they were forced to strip and stand naked, or partially naked, in front of a number of soldiers, who mocked and swore at them. ...Of all the humiliating practices described here, strip searches are the only one that the authorities are empowered to employ under Israeli law. But strip searches, too, are subject to various conditions. When a person is taken into custody, the prison guards may make a "visual inspection of his naked body" to prevent prohibited items being taken into the detention facility.1 However, the statute states that the detainee's consent must first be obtained. In the absence of such consent, the search is allowed only if it is authorized in writing by an officer after providing the detainee with an opportunity to be heard. Body searches, and all the more so when the person is naked, must be done with "maximum respect for human dignity, privacy, and health, and with the minimum degree of injury, discomfort, and pain."2 Given the technological means available today, it must be asked whether it is not possible to conduct a thorough and efficient body search without requiring the subject to strip naked. In any case, performing searches of naked detainees, without their consent and without giving them an opportunity to be heard, and often with the addition of curses and mocking in front of several police officers or prison guards, and in front of a large number of officials, as described in some of the testimonies, undoubtedly are in clear violation of the statute.

    [1] Criminal Procedure Regulations (Enforcement Powers – Body Search of Suspect), 5756 – 1996, section 17(4).
    [2] Ibid., section 2(d).

    - B'Tselem and Hamoked, “ABSOLUTE PROHIBITION: THE TORTURE AND ILL-TREATMENT OF PALESTINIAN DETAINEES”, May 2007
  • “During the arrest, detainees have often been forced to strip in public before being arrested. Family members have also been forced to remove their clothes in house to house arrest campaign raids.”

    - Addameer, Prisoners' Support and Human Rights Association, “Political Detention.”

Warnings to Travellers

  • “If you wish to leave Gaza, you should contact the Consulate-General in Jerusalem for advice before attempting to do so. Entering Gaza can involve lengthy delays and searches. Leaving Gaza is even more difficult. Since the beginning of 2008 there have been several incidents of British nationals undergoing a strip-search and delays of several hours (or in one case three days) are common.”

    - Foreign & Commonwealth Office of UK Government
  • “If you're unlucky, you'll be detained in the maze of body scanners. There is a separate section that will reveal itself to you if the guards in the gallery above feel they need to strip search you. Exit from Gaza could take an hour or several hours. The soldier at the final exit gate will ask you such pressing questions as ‘Where have you been?’ and ‘Did you speak to any Arabs?’.”

    - wikitravel, as of July 21, 2008.
  • People Forced to Strip in Public (Including Medical Workers & Children)

  • “RAMALLAH, West Bank, Nov 25 (Reuters) - Three Israeli soldiers forced a Palestinian man to strip naked at gunpoint and walk like a dog in a West Bank city under curfew, Palestinian witnesses said on Monday.

    “A Reuters photographer snapped Yasser Sharaf, 25, standing naked in a cold, muddy street in Nablus on Sunday as two men were handing him clothes to put on and two Israeli armoured vehicles were pulling away from the scene.”

    - Mohammed Assadi, Reuters, Israelis make Palestinian strip naked -witnesses, November 25, 2002.
  • “’The soldiers took us to an open area outside of Jenin and forced us to take off our clothes and, threatening to crush our bones under the tanks, forced us to lie down on broken glass.’

    “...Kamal Hussein, 30... They arrested him and used his naked body as a shield in front of resistance fighters. They then propped their guns on his shoulder and head and started firing at the fighters.

    “...Jamal Zubaidi, 16, said Israeli troops ordered all men living on his block to come out on the street with their hands up on April 7.

    “...The men were then driven to a nearby yard, ordered to strip naked, and made to lie face down in the dirt, Zubaidi said. ‘While my neighbor Jamal Sabar was taking off his pants, they shot him dead,’ he said in a stony voice, his eyes wandering into the distance.

    “Naiem Ghazani, a doctor, displayed a photograph taken of him by the army after he had been forced to strip naked upon his arrest in Jenin.

    “’I asked them why they were arresting me," said Ghazani. ‘And they said that they were taking all men of fighting age because they didn't know which of us were involved in the battles.’

    - IslamOnline & News Agencies, “Jenin: Lying Down On Broken Glass, Crushing Bones,” April 16, 2002.
  • “On Monday, November 25, Israeli soldiers ordered a young resident of the town of Nablus to strip completely naked in the street, according to Palestinian witnesses.

    “Yasser Sharar, 25, was caught violating the curfew in Nablus and was stopped by Israeli soldiers at gunpoint, who immediately ordered him to remove his clothes.

    “In an interview with Reuters, a witness explained, ‘They forced Yasser to take off all his clothes including his underwear...they ordered him to walk like a dog and then he burst into tears,’”

    “...recent interviews conducted by the Palestine Chronicle with scores of residents of the Jenin refugee camp contradicted the Reuters claim. Dozens of residents of the refugee camp claimed that during the Israeli invasion of April, 2002, it was a common practice to force residents to strip naked as a form of humiliation, or as the Israelis say, a ‘security operation.’

    “Na'el Ammar, 43, is a resident of the Jenin refugee camp and explains how Israeli soldiers arrested and detained scores of men from the refugee camp, and forced many to strip naked, ‘We were mostly older people, sick and wounded. We had nine handicapped people with us, three were from the same family, sons of Abu Ibrahim. Some of us were too old, they were senile. When they told them "go left" they would go right, but they stripped them naked anyway. I tried to help them as much as I could. I was the only one who spoke Hebrew...Close to us was a group of young men. They were handcuffed, naked and lying on their stomachs. The Israeli tanks would pass by them so fast, only forty centimeters away from their heads.’

    “Nawal Hawashin, a mother of eight, told Palestine Chronicle reporters that they threatened her 18 year old son with death if he did not follow their orders to strip naked, ‘They ordered my son and other young men to take off all their clothes and throw them on the ground. The soldiers warned that if the boys made any move, they would be shot. Near the Sahah, there was a body of a man with a white beard. He was lying dead on the ground, and tanks were rolling right over him. I couldn't recognize him. My son Mohammed said, "Mother, I am too ashamed to take my clothes off in front of women." I told him, "Son, this is our fate."’

    “Jamal Hussein has a family of thirteen. A man who worked as a cheap laborer in Israel before the invasion of Jenin described in detail how terrified Jenin residents were gathered in the center of the camp and forced to undress, ‘Soldiers stationed on the top of a nearby house started throwing dirt on us.. We remained 15 men and boys. Half an hour later a tank came and stood near us. They pointed the canon at us. And they spent over an hour terrifying us that way. The commander of that unit spoke in Arabic to us, "Go to Saha". While we were on our way, we kept reading Koran. We felt that they were going to execute us. Once we arrived there, we found a large number of men, forced to strip completely naked. There was a big pile of clothes. Soldiers started shooting right above our heads, they would call on us, one by one. Once they pointed at you, you would have to pull your pants down and your shirt up, when it was my turn, as I stood up, I noticed the body of a man, Jamal Sabbagh. It was some sort of a test. If you pass, you are arrested and if you don't, they'll shoot and kill you.’

    “According to Jenin residents, Israeli forces were not discriminatory in their aggression, young men, old and disabled were targeted. 45-year old Um Siri lamented how her son was not only forced to strip naked, but how he was later used as a human shield, ‘Then they took my son, they had him strip naked, and they also started firing between his legs to terrorize him.’”

    ...“Other residents described how young men were stripped naked and then shot. Yusuf Shalabi, a young man from the camp explained how the Israeli soldiers denied medical treatment to the wounded, ‘...I remember this nightmare very well. It is very difficult to talk about it. I remember them stripping the people naked, they would handcuff them and blindfold them. I remember seeing two wounded men, one was wounded in the shoulder and the other in the leg. They were screaming in pain and the soldiers would not allow them to be treated.’”

    ...“‘We found some doctors and medical workers, forced strip naked, handcuffed. Then they put them in trucks and took them to the Salem detention center’”...

    ...“Mohammed Rafi' the director of the Red Crescent Society's youth development programs in Jenin recounted how the Israelis held medical workers hostage in the Jenin hospital for days, and then forced them to strip naked as well. ‘They did not allow anyone in or out. If one of us wanted to leave to the hospital across the street, it would take two hours of telephone calls and deliberation. Ambulance drivers would be forced to wait for two hours with people bleeding inside before they were allowed entry to the hospital, they would take our volunteers or drivers, have them stripped naked, and interrogated and insulted.’

    “Of the scores upon scores of interviews conducted by Palestine Chronicle reporters in the Jenin refugee camp, that act of forcing civilians to strip naked was reported time and again. The Israeli army has defended the action, saying that such tactics are necessary to assure that Palestinians are not carrying explosives.”

    - Suzanne Russ, “Stripping Palestinians has Become Common Practice: Eyewitness Accounts,” Palestine Chronicle, November 26, 2002.
  • “Palestinians residing near the Kissufim crossing in the central Gaza Strip say Israel Defense Forces troops have been conducting raids in the area, during which residents are taken away for lengthy questioning and returned without their cloths.

    “Dozens of such testimonies from the residents of nearby villages indicate young Palestinians return naked from questioning that lasts 24 hours or more.”

    - Haaretz Staff and Channel 10, “Gazans: Palestinians detained by IDF return naked,” Haaretz, November 12, 2007.
  • “In Arabic, the Israeli soldiers asked me to lift up my clothes from the upper half of my body, and then to pull down my clothes on the lower half of my body, which I did, but then they asked me to remove my underwear, which I absolutely refused to do. They then told me to walk towards them.”

    - Sworn affidavit of Kamal Abu-Zeid, Al Haq, October 1, 2005.
  • “On 16 August 2007, Adalah sent a letter to the Israeli Prime Minister, the Minister of Public Security, the Head of the General Security Services (GSS) and the Attorney General, following an article published in the Haaretz newspaper on the subject of a new method of torture being employed by the GSS against Palestinian detainees. In a recent development, investigators have forced detainees to remove their clothing in front of other detainees, soldiers and interrogators and to put on disposable nylon overalls. In the letter, Adalah demanded that the use of this practice be ceased immediately and that a criminal investigation be opened into the actions of the GSS’s investigators.

    “According to the article written by journalist Amira Hass, the GSS made two Palestinian detainees enter a three-walled wooden hut. The interrogators then asked the detainees to remove their clothes and ran a metal detector over their naked bodies in front of soldiers standing nearby. Then the detainees were asked to put on overalls and to place their own clothes inside a black plastic bag. Their hands were then bound with plastic ties and blindfolds were placed over their eyes.

    “The GSS has been employing this method of torture for three months against detainees from the Gaza Strip, according to the evidence presented by the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights-Gaza to Haaretz.

    “In the letter, Adalah Attorney Fatmeh El-‘Ajou argued that this practice violates the constitutional rights of the detainees, including the right to dignity and privacy and causes them severe humiliation, in breach of the Basic Law: Human Dignity and Freedom. “The new method used by the interrogators of the General Security Services is a cruel, inhumane and exceptionally humiliating method of torture, which violates international law, and is considered a crime under Israeli law. Under international law such methods are absolutely prohibited without exception,” argued Attorney El-‘Ajou.

    “Adalah further argued that the GSS employs this method of torture for the sole purpose of humiliating the detainees and affronting their dignity. According to the aforementioned article, the investigators who used this illegal method work for the GSS. The GSS Law does not authorize the employees of this service to inspect detainees in a way that entails a violation of their basic rights and is at odds with international laws, emphasized Adalah.

    “Adalah further indicated that forcing Palestinian detainees to wear disposable nylon overalls raises numerous questions regarding the intentions of the GSS, as the goal behind this practice could be the creation of a genetic data bank from material gathered from the overalls, such as blood, sweat and hair. This is also an illegal action that is in breach of human dignity, freedom and privacy.”

    - Adalah, The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel, “Adalah: Forcing Palestinian Detainees to Strip Naked is a Method of Torture Prohibited under International Law,” News Update (text in full), August 20, 2007.
  • “Old age does not protect workers from soldiers' abuse. Old workers are exposed to the same insults and degrading treatment if they do not follow security procedures. They are also forced to lift parts of the clothes and rotate in a circule naked in front of soldiers to make sure they are not carrying anything to threaten security. - Palestinian Center for Human Rights, “Special Report on the Israeli Closure of the Gaza Strip,” June 12, 2006.

  • “They surrounded the Haseeba building and used loudspeakers to order residents to leave the building. This was conducted while shots were fired into the air and sound charges were detonated. IOF forced one of the residents to surrender, after forcing him to take off his clothes and walk out naked, under threat of blowing up the whole building. The man who surrendered was Ashraf Abu El-Rous, 30.”

    Palestinian Center for Human Rights, “On the Eve of Palestinian Legislative Elections: Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) Continue to Perpetrate Human Rights Violations throughout the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT),” January 19-25, 2006.
  • “IOF also arrested Eyad Mohammed Mo’een, 29, who was allegedly wanted for being a member of the Islamic Jihad. They forced him to get out of the building almost naked. IOF then destroyed parts of the fence and the first floor of the house.”

    - Palestinian Center for Human Rights, Weekly Report: On Israeli Human Rights Violations in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, 27 April- 03 May 2006.
  • “A soldier inside the jeep ordered me to raise my hands and get out of the car and said, ‘take off your shirt.’ I did; then he said, ‘and the pants.’ I did; then he said, ‘the undershirt and underwear.’ I begged him not to force me; and he said, ‘I’ll shoot you.’ And all the soldiers pointed their guns at me. I took off my underclothes and stood naked in front of everybody. He ordered, ‘proceed with your hands up.’ I came up to him and he gave me a transparent plastic bag to cover myself. He blindfolded me and made me sit 20 meters away. Then the soldier shouted at a passenger called Islam 'Abed al-Sheikh Ibrahim, 18, who was sitting in the front seat, and ordered him to get out of the car. He told the soldier that his leg was broken, but the soldier insisted. He Islam got out and stood on his crutches. The soldier ordered him to take off his clothes. He tried by failed. The soldier came to me and removed the binding off my eyes and told me at gunpoint to go and help him take off his clothes. I went and helped the passenger take off all his clothes. The soldier told me to help him walk to the soldier. We walked up and he gave me another nylon bag for Islam. Then, he told us to sit on the ground. Soon after, the soldier ordered another passenger, Yasser Rasheed al-Sheikh Ibrahim,60, to get out of the car and take off his clothes like us. He did and sat beside us. Then, he ordered Reyad Mahmoud Mohammed Melhem, 49, As’ad Faleh Yehya, 35, and 'Ali Sa’abna,43, to get out of the car and take off their clothes, and they obeyed the order. Soon after, the soldier asked the girl to take off her head cover and she did. Then, he ordered her to take off her clothes. She screamed at him, ‘I won’t even if you shoot me.’ Then, he told her to come and sit next to us. The soldier asked us to get into the jeep and we obeyed. He took us to "Maveh Dotan" outpost, where we sat for 5 hours without anyone saying a word to us. After that, an intelligence officer came and said, ‘Kufor Ra'ei and Fahma, stand up.” Five of us stood and he told us to get into the jeep. They took us to where we came from. When we reached the place, we were still naked and had the nylon bags only. We did not find our clothes or the car. I called my nephew, Rami, and told him what happened. He told me that the car was with people from 'Arraba. We went there and found our clothes in the car, except for the clothes of Yasser and Reyad.’”

    - Palestinian Center for Human Rights, Weekly Report: On Israeli Human Rights Violations in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, 01 - 07 September 2005.
  • Same incident: “The soldier called out to the driver, Abu Hassan, and ordered him to turn off the engine and put the keys on the roof. Abu Hassan did as the soldier said, and then the soldier ordered him to get out and stand in front of the taxi. Abu Hassan did that, and then the soldier ordered him to take off his clothes. Abu Hassan took off his shirt and pants. He tried to convince the soldier not to make him take off his underpants, but the soldier threatened him and said on the megaphone, ‘We are going to shoot you.’ Abu Hassan took off his underpants, and the soldier ordered him to go over to them. The soldier ordered him to turn around all the time, even though he was naked and did not have a weapon on him. When Abu Hassan got to the soldiers, they gave him a white plastic robe and ordered him to sit down.

    “After that, the soldiers ordered the other passengers, one after the other, to get out of the taxi. . The soldiers tried to separate a small boy who was in the taxi with his father, but the boy screamed and cried. There was a woman in the taxi and the soldier ordered her to take off her head covering. She removed it partially, and the soldier ordered her to take it off completely. He also ordered her to throw her bag onto the ground and told her to go over to them, together with the child, who was still screaming that he wanted his father. Then it was the father's turn.

    “I was the last passenger to get out of the taxi. The soldier asked me if anybody else was in the taxi. I told him there wasn't anybody else, and he ordered me to take off my clothes. I took off my shirt and undershirt, and stood there in my pants. He ordered me to open the doors of the taxi. I did as he said. Then he told me to remove everything from the taxi. I took everything out of the taxi including all of the passengers belongings. When I finished, the soldier said, ‘Undress completely.’ I undressed and went over to the soldiers. There weren't any more robes, and they gave me a blanket to cover myself. They blindfolded me and handcuffed me, and sat me down with the other passengers.

    “I don't know exactly how long we sat there, but it was about two hours. During that time, the soldiers wandered about in the area, and army vehicles came and drove around. Nobody asked me anything. After a while, the soldiers took us by hand and sat us down elsewhere. When I got up, the blanket fell and I stood there naked. After that, the soldiers removed my handcuffs so that I could hold up the blanket to cover myself. The soldiers brought us water, but I didn't drink even though I was thirsty. Even if I had drunk I would not have felt better, because I was in a very tough situation.

    “About an hour later, the soldiers took us somewhere. Later, when we were released, people from 'Araba told me that they had taken us to the Dotan army base, near 'Araba. The soldiers took us out of the vehicle one at a time, and we waited there for between an hour and a half and two hours, until somebody began to call our names. He gave me my ID card and took off my blindfold. I saw that he was wearing civilian clothes. He said, "Whoever has things in the box, take them." We took our things, and a short while later, the soldiers blindfolded us again and took us to where they had originally stopped us. When we got there, they removed the blindfolds and handcuffs and let us go. We did not find our clothes or the taxi that we had been in. A passing taxi took us to 'Araba. The driver said that Abu Hassan's taxi and our clothes were in 'Araba. We went to the house where our clothes were, and we got dressed.

    - Jasser Ibrahim, age 64, IDF soldiers order taxi driver and passengers to undress in public and detain them for hours wrapped in nylon sheets, 'Araba area, September 2005 B'Tselem, September 11, 2005.
  • “Israeli security forces in full combat gear carried out a predawn raid on the Mount of Olives yesterday, detaining 16 Americans and four others from a Christian evangelical group and preparing to deport them for ‘endangering public safety.’

    “...The tactics used by Israeli security forces and border police yesterday, which eyewitnesses said involved strip-searches of both men and women, troubled many Christians living in Israel as well as Israelis who follow the Christian community closely.”

    - Charles M. Sennott, “Israelis arrest 16 from US in roundup of Christians,” The Boston Globe, October 26, 1999.
  • “In the most recent Israel Defense Forces raids in the Gaza Strip, during which dozens of people were detained for interrogation by the Shin Bet, the security service adopted a procedure unknown in recent years: The detainees were forced to undress in the presence of another detainee and a soldier or a member of the Shin Bet and then be interrogated while wearing a disposable, blue paper overall. This emerged in cumulative testimony from the Strip. In the West Bank, apparently, the color of the overall is white. “

    “...Othman Hussein, a resident of Shuka who works in the research and planning department of Palestinian Authority Chair Mahmoud Abbas' bureau, was detained with another 83 people during an August 3 raid, along with his 16-year-old son. All of them - except for an employee of the Gaza European Hospital - were released within 24 hours. “

    “...Four children under the age of 15 and about 20 adults over the age of 45 were also detained...

    “...A man wearing civvies told them to undress completely in front of him and passed a metal detector over their naked bodies, including their behinds, according to Hussein's testimony.

    “Hussein and his son were put together in the hut. According to additional testimony, men and women soldiers were walking near the open hut all the while. Afterward, everyone was told to don an overall and put his clothes in a separate black bag, and then the detainees were handcuffed and blindfolded again.”

    “...Then he asked me about what had happened between Hamas and Fatah. I answered him: 'You strip me next to my son, sit me in the sun for about four hours, and then you want me to tell you my opinion of Hamas and Fatah? I don't want to tell you.’”

    “...At 10 P.M. they were allowed to look for their clothes in a pile of black bags and were taken by bus to the Sufa crossing, north of Kerem Shalom. From there, in the middle of the night, in a dangerous border area, they made their way on foot several kilometers to Rafah.”

    - Amira Hass, “Gaza residents tell of demeaning questioning by Shin Bet,” Haaretz, August 17,2007.
  • “Israeli soldiers forced the detainees to undress and led them out clad only in their underwear. Images of the naked detainees were broadcast in the electronic media, and published widely in the press in Israel and throughout the world. In testimonies given to B'Tselem, detainees stressed the humiliation they felt as a result of their naked images appearing in the media.”

    - “B'Tselem and PHR: Parading of Naked Prisoners in Jericho Violated International Law,” Arabic Media Internet Network March 16, 2006.
  • “Dr. Barghouti also explained how the Israeli army attacked and humiliated emergency health workers, forcing them to crawl on the ground, hit them with mud, removing them from their vehicles and holding them for hours at a time and forcing them to strip naked in public places.”

    - Health, Development, Information and Policy Institute, HDIP Press Conference Summary, April 26, 2002.

Fishermen Forced to Strip & Swim

  • “In the last half of the year, Israeli Navy patrols limited fishing to less than 6 nautical miles (11 km) off the Gazan coast and in only one area, shooting at those who strayed and arresting them. IDF made some fishermen strip naked and swim 100 yards to its warships in January temperatures, physically abused them on board, and then made them swim back.”

    - U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants, World Refugee Survey: Israeli-occupied territories, 2008.
  • “The practice of forcing sailors to strip and swim naked from their boats has become a routine method of humiliation. The Israeli human rights group B'Tselem reports that near-naked fishermen must then endure freezing temperatures while being taken to an Israeli port. Fishermen are later returned to their boat and again forced to swim across.”

    - Rami Almeghari, Gaza's fishing industry under siege, Live from Palestine, March 5, 2007.
  • “The soldier asked the three who were in charge to undress and swim to the Israeli ship. They undressed to their underwear. I saw that they were freezing from the cold. The water was cold as well. One of the fishermen didn't want to go into the water, and the soldier threatened to kill him. At that moment, the ship was around one hundred meters from our boats.”

    - Amin Hasuna, fisherman, B'Tselem, “Soldiers force fishermen to abandon their boats and to swim in freezing-cold water, Rafah, Jan. 2007,” January 22, 2007.

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Videos & Multimedia

British TV Documentary – Dispatches: The Killing Zone

VIDEO: Palestinians Document Settler Violence

VIDEO: West Bank attack filmed

Video – Gaza: A humanitarian implosion

Video: Old Palestinian Man Describes Being Shot

Video – The Easiest Targets: The Israeli Policy of Strip Searching Women and Children

Audio Interview – Psychology of Suicide Bombings

Video – Soldiers Explode a Portion of a Palestinian Home, Killing the Mother

Video – Soldiers Force a Palestinian to Play Violin at Roadblock

Related Articles:
Mohammed Omer & Strip Searches

Mohammed Omer’s web page on the incident

Mohammed Omer:
Summary of Events in Detention

John Pilger, The Guardian:
From triumph to torture

PETITION: Stop Israeli Strip Searching

Letting AP in on the Secret:
Israeli Strip Searches

Partial List of Israeli Strip Searches

VIDEO: The Easiest Targets

Humiliation and Child Abuse
at Israeli Borders & Airports

Additional Resources

The Gaza Strip: A humanitarian implosion

Back to a Routine of Torture – Torture and Ill-treatment of Palestinian Detainees during Arrest, Detention and Interrogation – September 2001 - April 2003

Amnesty International – Israeli Settlers Wage Campaign of Intimidation

Booklet – ‘No Exit’

Amnesty International – Under the Rubble

Organizations

Public Committee Against Torture in Israel


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