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The shame of Khiam
B. Michael, Yediot Ahronot, Oct 15
English translation by Irit Katriel

[IK: B. Michael's strength is in the choice of words and
phrases. As I can translate the main ideas, I cannot, in
any way, preserve the poison of his writing.]

A few miles north of the Israeli-Lebanese border, in an area
that we call the security zone, the state of Israel is maintaining
the  most possibly vicious prison. Khiam is its name. It holds
150 prisoners. The youngest is 16, the oldest has long ago passed
70, two or three women are there as well. Testimonies that leaked
from the prison reveal that the detainees undergo severe torture.
They are hanged from the ceiling when only the tips of their
toes touch the floor, they are beaten with bats, electrified, starved,
locked in small cells for many days. At least 11 prisoners died in
the prison, from torture or lack of medical treatment after torture.
Some of the prisoners have been there for a decade and more.
None of them were put to trial or accused of a felony. None of
them know when, and if, they will be released.

The state of Israel built this prison (on the ruins of a French
building from 1930). It is also paying the salaries of the wardens.
SSM interrogators maintain an ongoing connection with Khiam
interrogators, and have trained them. Israel and its messengers
claim that all of the detainees were locked up because of their
support for Hizbullah. The truth is not as definite. Even in Israel
there is whispering that some of them are there as a part of the
personal disputes of the commander of the SLA. And in any case,
the semi-official reasons for the arrests are irrelevant as not one
of the detainees ever saw a judge. Something can be learned about
the purpose of the numerous arrests from the fact that the prisoner
pool of Khiam was used, more than once, as a stack of human
bargaining chips in exchanges for bodies of IDF soldiers or Israeli
POWs.

Khiam prison reached the headlines about six weeks ago, when
a 25 year old Lebanese journalist joined its population. Cosette
Ibrahim is her name. She was arrested on Sept. 3rd while visiting
her parents at the village of Remeish. She is in Khiam since then.
Needless to say, the Israeli press association did not even squeak
about the colleague that was locked up without trial. The IDF, as
usual, leaks that she is a Hizbullah collaborator. You don't have
to believe the IDF. In regards to Khiam, it has shown a very
creative lying ability. Cosette Ibrahim's arrest is raising a lot of
interest and rage world wide. Only in Israel, just a precious few
are interested. The "Red Line" group that is raising protests, an
article by Ofer Shelach in Maariv, an editorial and articles by
Daniel Sobelman and Aviv Lavie in Haaretz (and maybe few
more that I have missed) and that's it. No real uproar.

There was also no uproar when Brigadier Dan Halutz submitted
an affidavit to the supreme court, as a part of the state's response
to a petition to release a few of the detainees in Khiam, and in
the affidavit confirmed black on white that Israel is funding the
prison, training its interrogators and using its inhabitants.

You need to read that affidavit in order to believe. It is a document
so ludicrous, so twisted, so unbelievable and distorted, that the
reader doesn't know whether to cry, scream, laugh or bang his head
against the wall.

According to Brigadier Halutz, the IDF is not in control of the
security zone. It's hardly even present there. And the SLA is not a
subordinate of the IDF but a completely independent army. This is
why the state of Israel cannot instruct it what to do with its prisoners.
And besides, the Lebanese government is the one in control of the
security zone (and he backs this up by the fact that there is a Lebanese
Kadi in Marj Ayoun, a state agricultural school in the village of Khiam,
an interior ministry representative in another village and other such
proofs). The brigadier does agree that there is some cooperation
between the IDF and the SLA, but this is only the natural cooperation
between two armies that are fighting a common enemy....

And since we are not there at all, the supreme court has no jurisdiction
over South Lebanon. Between the lines there a friendly warning that
if the petition will be accepted, it would put the SLA under the
supervision of the supreme court and will open the door for appeals
complaining about things that were done outside the Israeli border
and by people who are not IDF soldiers or civil servants.

And here is the complete legislative paradox: everyone can enter
South Lebanon. The Israeli army, politicians, journalists (except
for Khiam, of course), missiles, tanks, SSM interrogators,
e-v-e-r-y-o-n-e. Except for the Israeli law. And the Israeli court.
And rightly so. They would only get in the way.

It's hard to understand how a court can accept such an obvious
series of lies and deceptions. Don't the judges know that Israel
is in control of the security zone no less than it is of the west
bank? Is there anyone who doesn't know that it is enough for
the Israeli government to blink at Antouan Lahd, or threaten
to cut his salary by 15%, in order for him to release all the
detainees in Khiam and give each of them a chocolate box and
a missile launcher? Is anyone naive enough to believe that the
foreign legion that we established is an independent army and
not one small finger, the one with the black fingernail, on the
IDF's "long arm"? [IK: 'the IDF's long arm' is a phrase used here
to demonstrate the fact that the IDF will 'defend Israel wherever
necessary', i.e. go as far as Iraq if they have to.]

And so, under the nose of the law, and despite the ban on torture,
the state of Israel maintains a horrid facility in which everything
is permitted. Supreme-court-bypassing prison. Nobody should be
surprised if the SSM will begin to export detainees from the west
bank to this prison, so the SLA wardens will shake and electrify
them without disruptions. [IK: "shake" is the Israeli laundered term
for torture in investigations. It is used here cynically].

Khiam prison is an Israeli atrocity. A shame on the face of the
land of the survivors. A humanistic and moral disgrace.

It should be wiped off the face of the earth.