In the last day several of the Jews arrested on vague suspicions of involvement in the lethal Duma arson were allowed to finally meet their lawyers, who were shocked at the brutal investigation the Israeli Security Agency (ISA) is submitting them to.
The lawyers revealed in a press conference on Thursday night in Jerusalem that the investigation has included severe torture, of a nature that has not been conducted in Israel before.
Attorney Adi Keidar termed it “a sad day for the justice and law enforcement system. Those investigated in the Shabak (ISA) investigation room have no rights. There is no judge or justice and everything is permissible, even against the body of the detainee.”
“Yesterday I met with a minor after 21 days and saw a man who was completely changed, something very difficult happened to him. Senior officers in the Shabak went into the investigation rooms and used torture methods and physical violence against a minor,” said Keidar.
The lawyer said his client revealed to him that “they don’t let him sleep, he is handcuffed by his hands and feet. Senior investigators come in and start hitting him cruelly in sensitive body organs, until at a certain point he doesn’t feel anything anymore, including kicks and slaps.”
Keidar also provided testimony regarding another suspect, saying, “he was prevented from sleeping for three days. The investigators started pulling his head back and he threw up violently. After he saw a doctor who said he needs rest, they continued the abuse.”
Attorney Itamar Ben-Gvir said at the press conference that something bad had befallen the state of Israel.
“According to the materials in our possession, the murder in Duma has not been deciphered yet. The state of Israel prided itself on democracy, but this is a black day for the state of Israel.”
Ben-Gvir described how “Shabak investigators abuse and hit, and none of them have to give any accounts. We demand that the judges stop the investigation. We demand that this abuse stop.”
“Every red line has been crossed”
“Justice needs to be pursued justly,” said attorney Avichai Hajbi. “They depict as if this is a justified investigation and give the Shabak all the credit. This is something that has never been before.”
“There is physical and emotional abuse here. Every red line has been crossed, and the court and the judges will need to examine this.”
Keidar said with conviction, “the Duma case is dying and will end. We are sorry to disappoint Boogie,” using the nickname of Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon (Likud).
“It could be that some of those investigated admitted to other incidents, but as far as I know they didn’t admit to anything (related to Duma – ed.),” said Keidar. “There are versions of the suspects regarding other incidents but that is after torture, and we understand that the suspects would say anything in order not to return to the abuse of the Shabak.”
The attorney stressed that “the Duma murder has not been deciphered, and the Shabak has nothing. Maybe indictments will go out regarding property, but not regarding Duma.”
Both Internal Security Minister Gilad Erdan (Likud) and Ya’alon have admitted there is not a shred of evidence against the suspects to stand them on trial.
They have suffered a raft of severe breaches to their rights – they have been refused basic religious rights such as lighting Hanukkah candles, been banned from seeing their lawyers or family, and at least one has been denied medical treatment after being beaten during arrest. Recently a suspect was even denied clean underwear.
MK Nissan Slomiansky (Jewish Home), chair of the Constitution, Law and Justice Committee in the Knesset, told Arutz Sheva on Wednesday that he would raise a fuss over the breaches of rights – if he hears “about more cases” of breaches.
ISA issues a response
The ISA responded to the revelation provided by the attorneys by issuing a statement on Thursday night, saying that “an organization of Jewish terror” is being investigated that is suspected of “severe terror attacks.”
ISA claimed this “Jewish terror” has a goal of “acting through violent means to change the governmental arrangements in the state of Israel.”
It further insinuated that the unspecified “organization” was behind the Duma arson in which two Arab parents and their young son were murdered, an act that “contributed to the disruption of the stability in the region and badly influenced the security situation.”
ISA said it arrested central figures in the group and investigated them “intensively over the suspicions ascribed to them.”
“Unfortunately, since the arrest, Shabak identifies an effort with the goal of slandering the organization (the ISA – ed.) and its workers and disrupting its operational activities. This attempt deserves every condemnation and will not weaken the hands of Shabak from continuing to act, as delegates of the citizens of the state of Israel, and under state values.”
The ISA stated that the investigation remains under a media gag order and therefore it refuses to discuss the contents of the investigation – including the severe torture – even while claiming it acts according to the law.
Some argue the investigation is following the wrong lead, given reports and unusual circumstances at the scene of the crime indicating the arson may have been an inside job committed by feuding residents of the Arab village. Israel has reportedly left investigation of the Arab village to the Palestinian Authority (PA), instead chasing the “Jewish terrorism” angle based on Hebrew graffiti found at the site.