The 1391 Camp: Learn About Israel's Secret Guantanamo

Published August 29th, 2021 - 06:05 GMT
1391 camp
The existence of 1391 camp was unknown prior to 2003. (Twitter: @codet_t)

As the whole world lives through collective flashbacks pushed by the end of the war in Afghanistan, and marked by the approaching US military withdrawal and the return of the Taliban, talks of Guantanamo bay that housed many of the returning Taliban leaders have inspired online conversations about yet another secret detention camp, only this time it is in Israel.

Online people have been posting satellite photos showing the location of Israel's 1391 facility, which has been recognized as a detention camp used secretly by the Israeli army for years to imprison what they label as "high-risk prisoners."

The existence of the 1391 camp was not heard of on a public level before 2003 when the Israeli Supreme Court decided to declassify many documents connected to the facility. Ever since the camp has been referred to as the "Israeli Guantanamo." At that time, Israeli officials claimed that "no people were detained in 1391 as of 2003."  They said that the facility which "was run by the Shin Bet internal security service between April 2002 and March 2003 was only used to relieve overcrowding at other jails."

However, very little official information in connection to the army camp is available so far. In 2004, the public discussion over the secrecy and legality of the camp has led to an investigation by the Guardian's Chris McGreal, one that concluded; "it had been airbrushed from Israeli aerial photographs and purged from modern maps."

The report also noted that the facility located to the north of Israel, since at least the 1980s, was mostly used to imprison and torture Palestinian and Lebanese individuals often deemed by Israel as "terrorists," especially during the Israeli military occupation of Southern Lebanon which ended in 2000.

According to a 2003 report by Haaretz, inmates of the 1391 facility could never recognize where they were. The report also highlighted the legal questions surrounding the detention camp, particularly as it was not announced to all government officials, including David Libai, the Minister of Justice during the 1990s.

In their response to criticism by Israeli human rights organizations, 1391 officials had stressed that detained individuals "always had the right to meet with their lawyers as do other political prisoners in Israel."

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