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Israel official takes photos with handcuffed West Bank detainees

Israeli soldiers detain and blindfold a Palestinian man on the road near Duma in the Israeli-occupied West Bank on Saturday, April 13, 2024. [Photo by Itai Ron/Middle East Images/Middle East Images via AFP]

The deputy mayor of the southern Israeli city of Beersheba has posted a series of photos of himself posing next to Palestinian detainees who were forcibly restrained by a blindfolds and handcuffs. 

Shimon Tubul, who has been Beersheba Mayor Ruvik Danilovich’s deputy for nearly three years, shared the photos while serving as a reservist Israeli military in the occupied West Bank from October until the end of January, Israeli news site Haaretz reported.

Haaretz also added that he was called up for another round of reserve duty last week.

The photos and videos taken during his military services were accompanied by disparaging captions. 

In one post, Tubul captioned an image of a blindfolded bearded man who was crouching on the floor as “they say the bigger the beard, the higher the rank. This time, he had a really big beard. No apologies, no mercy, no stopping. We have started speaking fluent Arabic”.

Another photo saw Tubul posing next to a detainee, with the caption, “when the customer asks to take a selfie. A nation of cowards. The nation of Israel lives”.

In other posts, Tubul describes Palestinians as Nazis and alludes to his actions being works of revenge for the Holocaust. 

“The people of Israel live. Every Nazi knew that his day would come. Our father, our king, avenge before our eyes the spilled blood of your servants,” he wrote in one post. 

The Israeli military told Haaretz that Tubul’s Facebook posts were not permissible and added that it “prohibits taking pictures of prisoners for safety and security reasons and [to protect] the right to privacy.” 

The Beersheba municipality did not comment directly on the images taken by its deputy, however it told the Israeli outlet that Tubul was not working for them at the time they were published.  

Calls for investigations

On Thursday, the UN Special Rapporteur for Torture Alice Jill Edwards called on Israel to investigate several allegations of cruel, inhumane and degrading treatment of Palestinians, particularly those taking place after 7 October. 

Edwards said in a statement that she had heard reports of people being beaten, kept in cells blindfolded and handcuffed for long periods. 

The UN Special Rapporteur said she had received reports of some detainees being deprived of sleep, threatened with physical and sexual violence, insulted and exposed to humiliating acts, including “being photographed and filmed in degrading poses”. 

“I am particularly concerned that this emerging pattern of violations, coupled with an absence of accountability and transparency, is creating a permissive environment for further abusive and humiliating treatment of Palestinians,” Edwards said. 

“The Israeli authorities must investigate all complaints and reports of torture or ill-treatment promptly, impartially, effectively and transparently. Those responsible at all levels, including commanders, must be held accountable, while victims have a right to reparation and compensation.” 

A report by The New Arab in January also examined a series of videos posted on the social media platform TikTok- which saw Israeli soldiers openly sharing their antics consisting of looting homes, vandalising and demolishing buildings.

Experts said that these incidents could breach international law. 

Agencies contributed to this report.

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