Authorities silent on medical update of ‘tortured’ Palestinian suspect

The Jerusalem Post has learned that already on Thursday, at a detention hearing before the IDF West Bank courts, he complained of various pains from his interrogation by the Shin Bet.

By
October 2, 2019 04:43
3 minute read.
Avichay Mandelblit attends Ayelet Shaked's goodbye party.

Avichay Mandelblit attends Ayelet Shaked's goodbye party.. (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)

The Justice Ministry has opened an investigation to determine what happened to one of the alleged Palestinian terrorists arrested in connection to the murder of Rina Shnerb, and who was critically injured during his interrogation by the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency).

Samer Mina Salim Arbid was arrested by security forces on September 25 and was hospitalized three days later.

The Shin Bet and the Justice Ministry refused to provide an update Tuesday night regarding his current status.

Arbid, 44, is alleged to be one of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) officials in Ramallah and was previously arrested for involvement in alleged terrorist activities during the Second Intifada under the direct command of the PFLP leadership, preparing explosive devices and committing terrorist attacks. Arbid allegedly set up and activated the IED that killed Shnerb in August when she visited a spring with her father and brother.

At a detention hearing before the IDF West Bank Courts, Arbid complained of various pains, which he said were caused by the Shin Bet interrogators.

Despite these warning signs, the interrogation continued and when Arbid was transferred to Hadassah-University Medical Center on Mount Scopus by Saturday, he was already determined to be in critical condition.

As of Sunday, his condition was believed to have stabilized, but no official announcement has been issued other than a vague statement by the Justice Ministry that the unit for probing alleged torture by the Shin Bet was reviewing the case.

The Public Committee Against Torture in Israel (PCATI) has already sent a letter to Attorney-General Avichai Mandelblit, demanding that the initial probe of the alleged torture be wrapped up in a period of weeks, with a decision about whether a criminal investigation will be pursued.

PCATI frequently points out that the unit for probing alleged torture by the Shin Bet has only opened a criminal investigation in one case out of around 1,200 complaints since the year 2000, nearly always closing cases.

Further, PCATI has slammed the unit for an average decision timeline of around 39 months.

While the unit was moved from the Shin Bet to the Justice Ministry in 2014 with significant fanfare about its new and greater independence, government officials acknowledge that part of the delays come from the unit’s underfunding.

In addition, the unit had no director for approximately a full year until August 26, when Guy Asher was appointed to replace Jana Modgavrishvili, who had stepped down in September 2018.

PCATI is also pressing various Knesset members to insist on the videotaping of Shin Bet interrogations going forward.

The NGO said it was too bad that such an extreme case was necessary for the public to take notice of a small but regular number of alleged torture cases of Palestinian terror suspects or those connected to suspects.

The Shin Bet and the Justice Ministry have rejected video recordings, saying this would reveal sources and methods. They also say that the Shin Bet does not torture and that any “moderate pressure” it applies is within boundaries set by the High Court of Justice as well as saves lives.

In recent years, the Shin Bet also has allowed the Justice Ministry’s unit to make unannounced spot inspections of interrogations using a live feed, but the live feed does not record.

Arbid’s lawyer, Mahmoud Hassan, had not responded to inquiries for an update at press time, but it was believed that the Shin Bet was still preventing Arbid from contact with his lawyer along with four others arrested last week in connection with the suspected murder of Shnerb.

Seventeen-year-old Shnerb, along with her father, Rabbi Eitan Shnerb, and brother Dvir, had visited near the Ein Bubin spring in August next to the settlement of Dolev.

The alleged terrorists, from Ramallah and villages in the Binyamin areas, were said to be members of the PFLP who were involved in the planning and execution of the terror attack, as well as suspects in other terror attacks committed in the area.



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