Page last updated at 11:08 GMT, Sunday, 22 June 2008 12:08 UK

Israeli troops accused of abuse

Blindfolded detainees are led by Israeli soldiers at a military base near the Gaza Strip (11 June)
Israel says it complies with laws governing the treatment of detainees

An Israeli human rights group has accused Israeli soldiers of routinely abusing bound Palestinian prisoners.

The Public Committee Against Torture in Israel (PCATI) said the army was indifferent to such mistreatment.

The organisation said its findings were based on 90 detailed accounts from Palestinians and soldiers who say they witnessed the abuse.

A military spokesman said the army viewed any violation of its ethical code with great concern.

The army says it set up a special unit to look into complaints of abuse in 1996, and since then there had been a rise in the number of soldiers reporting violence against detainees.

A military spokesman, quoted by AFP news agency, insisted that the armed forces "act in line with international and Israeli laws regarding the arrest of terrorist suspects".

'Serious injuries'

Israeli troops frequently round up prisoners during raids in Palestinian areas. They say their actions are aimed at preventing attacks on Israeli civilians by militants.

But the human rights group says that soldiers are often violent towards prisoners - even after they have been handcuffed and no longer pose a threat.

"On certain occasions, the ill-treatment of Palestinian detainees is highly violent, resulting in serious injuries," said the report, which covers the period from June 2006 to October 2007.

"Minors, who must be granted special protection under both Israeli and international law, are also victims of abuse," the report said.

Earlier this year, the PCATI accused Israeli officials of using psychological torture against some Palestinian detainees by threatening action against their families if they did not co-operate.

The Israeli government has already said such interrogation tactics are illegal, and the internal security organisation, Shin Bet , denied the claims.

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