GENEVA: A UN rights expert on Thursday called on Israeli authorities to investigate allegations of torture and abuse of detained Palestinians since Hamas’s October 7 attacks sparked the war in Gaza.

The UN special rapporteur on torture, Alice Jill Edwards, said she had received allegations of abuse against Palestinians held in prisons run by the Israeli Prison Service and in Israeli military camps.

She pointed to estimates that thousands of Palestinians, including children, had been detained since the war erupted.

Edwards told AFP she had been carrying out a “thorough review for the past two months” based on multiple sources, but that her investigation was continuing.

In a statement, she described receiving allegations of cases where prisoners were beaten, held in cells blindfolded and handcuffed for long periods, deprived of sleep, and threatened with physical and sexual violence.

There were also reports suggesting that prisoners had been subjected to humiliating treatment, including being photographed and filmed in degrading poses, she said.

Edwards, who is an independent rights expert appointed by the UN Human Rights Council but who does not speak on behalf of the United Nations, said did not have enough information to determine whether the alleged abuse might be systemic.

She said she had raised the issue with Israeli authorities, and had asked them to investigate and to allow “access to international human rights and humanitarian observers”, and to herself.

“It’s very important that there are independent inspections,“ she said, expressing concern about an “emerging pattern of violations”.

She urged Israeli authorities to “investigate all complaints and reports of torture or ill-treatment promptly, impartially, effectively and transparently”.

Edwards also insisted that those responsible, at all levels, “must be held accountable”.

Edwards has previously issued statements demanding accountability for the multitude of alleged crimes committed during Hamas’s October 7 attack inside Israel, including killings, hostage-taking, torture and sexual violence.

More than 1,170 people died as a result of Hamas’s October 7 attack, mostly civilians, according to an AFP tally of Israeli official figures.

Militants also took 252 hostages, 124 of whom remain in Gaza, including 37 the army says are dead.

Israel’s retaliatory offensive has killed at least 35,800 people in Gaza, mostly women and children, according to the Hamas-run territory’s health ministry.