A chief problem is that torture is not a crime under Israeli law. From the outset, this violates provisions of international human rights covenants ratified by Israel, such as the Convention Against Torture, that forbid the use of torture and cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment (CIDT) in all their forms. Among other recommendations, international human rights bodies have consistently called on Israel to explicitly prohibit torture through legislation in line with these treaties; to this day, no such legislation exists.
In part because torture is not a crime, there are no criminal prosecutions of its perpetrators, and hence no legal remedies for victims. Israeli agencies that routinely use torture in their work – including the military, the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency), and prison authorities – enjoy extensive impunity. While the High Court’s ruling and various internal state bodies give the illusion of oversight and regulation, in reality these ‘torture agencies’ are essentially free to act without fear of punishment. This is why hundreds of cases of torture against detainees under Israeli custody are never even investigated, and why practices such as force-feeding of hunger-striking prisoners can be legalized.