(From Jamie Stern-Weiner)
In 1977 the Sunday Times published an explosive exposé alleging ‘systematic’ use of torture by Israel. Israel was badly shaken by the publicity and assertively pushed back against the newspaper, rubbishing its conclusions and attacking its sources.
It got some help from a surprising quarter when the chief representative in Israel of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), Andre Tschiffeli, told the Jerusalem Post that he had ‘not come across’ some of the worst practices described in the Sunday Times report. Tschiffeli, in violation of the ICRC’s code of silence, continued:
There may be individual examples of ill-treatment. But systematic torture, authorised and approved by the Israeli administration – no, I do not believe that. We have no evidence of that.
The ICRC headquarters in Geneva repudiated the comments, and, with no official explanation beyond a press statement claiming his tour had ended, Tschiffeli was shortly thereafter transferred from his post.