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September 29 1999
 
 

                   Lebanese prison 'funded by Israel'
 

          FROM ROSS DUNN IN JERUSALEM

 ISRAEL has admitted publicly for the first time that
 its secret police are training interrogators and giving
 financial support to a notorious prison in occupied
 southern Lebanon. The El Khiam compound is
 thought to hold more than 100 Lebanese prisoners
 of war.

 The jail is used by the South Lebanese Army (SLA),
 allies of Israel, for the incarceration of guerrilla
 fighters from militant Islamic groups such as
 Hezbollah.

 Ezekiel Lein, a researcher with B'tselem, the Israeli
 human rights group, said conditions at the jail have
 often been poor and that 14 prisoners had been
 found dead inside the prison "as a result of torture
 or improper medical treatment after the torture".

 The admission that Israel is directly involved in the
 prison's operations came in a signed statement by
 Major-General Dan Halutz, head of Israel's army
 operations. It was presented to the High Court and
 came in response to a petition from El Khiam
 prisoners by Israel's Association for Civil Rights
 and the Moked, the Centre for the Defence of the
 Individual.

 In his affidavit, Major-General Halutz said: "There is
 a relationship between the Shin Bet [the Israeli
 secret police] and the SLA with regard to
 intelligence information gathering and
 interrogations meant to foil attacks in the security
 zone against IDF (Israel Defence Forces) and SLA
 troops. In this context Shin Bet agents co-operate
 with SLA fighters and also help them with
 professional guidance and instruction." He said that
 the Israeli defence forces had paid the salaries of
 staff at the jail but that the practice was to be halted.

  Times Newspapers Ltd