June 26, 2008 / 2:33 PM / 11 years ago

Israeli doctors complicit in torture: rights group

JERUSALEM (Reuters) - Israel’s Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) group accused Israeli doctors on Thursday of ignoring what it described as the torture of Palestinian detainees during interrogations.

The PHR said its findings were based on testimony from two Palestinians who developed trauma-related symptoms, such as weak hearing, panic attacks and incontinence during and after their detention.

Israel said those findings were “fraught with mistakes, groundless claims and inaccuracies”.

Palestinian prisoners undergo medical examinations before, during and after their interrogation, but doctors in detention facilities fail to report such symptoms, making them complicit in “prisoner torture”, the PHR said in a statement.

PHR Executive Director Hadas Ziv told Reuters her organization’s findings were also based on reports by other Israeli human rights groups.

Last year, two groups, B’Tselem and HaMoked, said they had found Israeli security interrogators routinely mistreat and sometimes physically torture Palestinian detainees.

The PHR urged the Health Ministry in a letter to forbid doctors from participating in interrogations carried out by Israel’s internal security service, the Shin Bet.

A Health Ministry spokeswoman said it had not received the letter and therefore could not respond to the PHR’s appeal.

The rights group said doctors working for the Shin Bet risked losing their jobs if they reported torture and urged the Health Ministry to protect them.

Writing by Joseph Nasr, Editing by Ibon Villelabeitia

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