On Friday, September 16th, 2016 in Voices.
The following is post by a young Gazan journalist called “Mohammed Othman.” He was recently detained by Hamas, tortured and defamed after he published a document proving that Ismael Hanyia takes about $25,000 per month from the Ministry of Endowments to distribute it on his own poor people as his personal gift to them. The journalist drew attention to the heading of the document that said “the office of former prime minister” instead of “Hamas vice leader” and concluded that Hamas is still in charge of everything in Gaza and obstructing the unity government’s work. He was then terribly mistreated, and tortured with the very same methods that Israel uses against our detainees.But he remarkably chose to keep talking and never shut his mouth up, and invited all the oppressed to fear nothing and raise their voices:
Prison cell number 11
The first of September was another ordinary day, or so it seemed to me when I thought it was just a Thursday.
During my pursuit as a journalist for seven years, I have never expected to experience such a situation like the one I’ve endured that very same Thursday.
The chapters of that day began by the afternoon, and I could describe them as “Extrodinary.”
My four-month-old daughter Tulin, was the last normal thing I felt prior to the beginning of the eventful story. I do not know what prompted me to take her with me from our apartment in the fifth floor, to bring my two daughters from the kindergarten, Lamia (four years old) and Elma (two years old and a half) .. I took Tulin with me, and within twenty minutes I brought my daughters back home.
Ten minutes after we walked home, the door was knocked, and hastily I opened to get startled by six men who broke into my house without permission after their group leader, who was wearing civilian clothes, identified himself as an officer of the internal security service. Three of them were in uniform and carrying weapons.
For me, what mattered the most at that moment was to shield my family from any harm that may find them. So I forced the unexpected guests who came to my house with no prior notice or respect to stand aside, if only for a minute, to protect my wife from any violation.
Then I was surrounded by those who confined my movement inside the house, and all that I was able to do was wearing jeans and a shirt above my pajamas.
In my bedroom, which was the only room they inspected while I was inside, the internal security folks proceeded to collect anything their hands laid upon of cellphones and computers; three cellphones, one of which belongs to my wife, as well as my laptop and hers, a digital camera and some working papers that belongs to me.
After they concluded their frivolity in my flat at four-thirty in the afternoon, they took me down to board a big white car, that I do not know its brand, and then drove to the headquarters of the internal security at the old “governor’s mansion” premises.
I waited for twenty minutes at the guard office of some building in the premises before I was moved to the “torture cell”, after the interrogator made the decision to snatch out my confessions under torture, which they hoped to get by the first moment I walked inside the dreadful facility. That was the last moment I saw the light before my eyes were blindfolded.
A soldiers took me to the “barracks” to hand me over to some of the people who began the journey of verbal and physical abuse. And I realized that I would no longer deal with sane people after. Indeed. They shouted intimidating phrases at me, such as: “the work has just started” and “that’s the journalist whom we’ve been anxiously waiting for six days”. One of them forced me to bend over while dragging me in the “barracks” claiming that there was a wall to pass underneath. Not to mention, they had put me , or as they claimed, next to a water well for two minutes, to scare me.
The chapter of the psychological pain continued, even when they took me to what they called “the clinic”. There, I was not examined by any doctor at all, only some guy there asked me about some personal information and whether I was sick with any disease or not. Of course I wasn’t able to see anything because the black blindfolds like “eyeglasses” was kept on my eyes.
They took me to a cell that they call the “bus”, to play on the string of exhausting me physically. I remained standing for an hour and a half without any movement. The bus, which I discovered its shape the only moment I was allowed to remove the “dark black eyeglasses” when they agreed to let me perform ablution in the small bathroom inside, is a room about two meters wide and three meters long.
The “bus trip” was over after an hour and half, and then began the real journey of interrogation and torture. One of the jailers took me to stand in front of the interrogator’s room, where I heard the beatings during the interrogation of one of the prisoners or more. Then it was my turn.
I walked into the interrogation room, to stand before two interrogators who asked me to disclose the sources that provided me with the “papers” that I published about the “office of the former Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh.” And quickly I answer that I can’t, and that the law guarantees that right.
Then started the journey of physical abuse, and both of them slapped me on the face several “blows” at the same time. Then the senior interrogator gave the order to the other to “hang me.”
Here, it seemed to me that they were betting on the psychological factor, especially as they were still putting on my eyes “the dark black eyeglasses” to weaken me. One of the interrogators started to give me advices that denial will not benefit me, and that in the end I will comply and confess. He told me then that they discovered on the source of the document from my laptop, which they seized.
My determination on not to comply to their “advice,” as they said, had them to escalate the methods of torture. So they called a new interrogator, this time wearing a “white Galabia,” which I was able to see its tail from the bottom of my blindfolds. I won’t hide that I assumed the good in him; It is our traditions to appreciate whosever wearing a Galabia as a religious person.
He tried to force me to write my “confession” on a white paper that they took after ten minutes and I only wrote on it my personal information and emphasizing to have no association or personal relationship with the guy they asked me about.
Here, began a new round of torture, he cuffed my hands to the back, and he put on my head a light yellow cover. He took me few meters out of the interrogation room. And then put the “handcuffs” in a chain that I was hearing and feeling when pulling my hands up. My back hunched, and he brought me a chair to stand upon, and then he increased the lifting of my hands up on this device, which I later learned that it’s called “ballanco.”
He asked me to get down of the chair twice, and when I wasn’t able to, he hit me on my stomach several times with his forearm, and then he pushed the chair from underneath my feet, so I was hung up as the bodies on the “gallows.” Five minutes were enough to concentrate all the pain in the world in my wrists, my back and my shoulders.
And then they took me to the interrogation room once again, to give me a notebook to write down “my confession,” and they returned to the room after ten minutes to find it blank. The moved me and the notebook to “prison cell No. 11” which became my name and what they called me later.
The width of the cell, which appears to be newly constructed, is no more than a meter, and its length is about two meters, and it has a small bathroom with width and length of about one meter.
After an hour, they brought me a mattress, a pillow and a blanket which all smelled very musty. So I put the pillow under the mattress and the notebook right under my head.
Another hour and half passed, until one of the jailers offered to bring me a “hummus sandwich”, so I told him that I’m on a hunger strike, then I heard him giggling and making fun of me with the other jailers, and saying “Let him die.”
The interrogation officer promised that I will lose seven kilograms from Thursday to Sunday, and when I went back home I found that I’ve really lost three kilograms. He told the truth, and that was the only truth I heard since they detained me.