When is State Torture Okay? When it's Palestinian Authority Torture

In the Nineties, we used to torture them badly. We beat them hard and we made them like a car that doesn’t function.

It's about time the government stopped all those atrocities at Abu Ghraib and started giving more money to the Palestinian Authority to torture people instead.

You try your best to avoid being violent,’ the Palestinian security man tells me. ‘But in cases where the data is strong, and the prisoner is not co-operating, and when there might be harm done to others – then you must be.

'I’m not going to lie to you. Torture is used. We have to protect our people.

‘Interrogation is a war between two personalities. You order the prisoner to sit, and he sits. You offer him a cigarette, and if he says he doesn’t smoke, you say, “No, you must smoke.”

The obvious irony here is that putting terrorists in charge still means that they will have to replicate some version of the "Occupation" to deal with their enemies.

The Occupation never ends because it's not a product of some external force, but the result of internal violence. Israel could leave Gaza, but it couldn't stay out because of Hamas. Israel could turn over power to the Palestinian Authority, but PA interrogators have to do the sort of things that the old bad Israelis did, because there is no other option.

‘In the Nineties, we used to torture them badly. We beat them hard and we made them like a car that doesn’t function. But we were defending our home, the region and the rest of the world. I am happy it was justified.’

Not to mention the planet.

Nowadays, he adds, the preferred method is termed ‘shabeh’ – the hooding and tying of the prisoner in a variety of agonising positions for up to eight hours. He does not elaborate on the details, but claims: ‘It works with 95 per cent of the subjects.’ It also takes considerable skill: ‘You have to deal with it as if you were playing a guitar. Each case has its own speciality.’

This extraordinary interview is the first admission by a former perpetrator of the widespread torture of Palestinians – not by Israel, but by the Palestinian Authority (PA) which governs the Israeli-occupied West Bank.

It was given to me last week in a dusty Palestinian city. Across the table was a well-dressed, middle-aged family man with an infectious smile – a former PA official.

He spoke only on the strictest condition of anonymity as he feared becoming a torture victim himself should his identity become public.

You know that a society is really a proper democratic place when the torturers are afraid to talk because they know that they will be tortured.