A Palestinian stone-thrower looks on as he stands in front of a fire during clashes with IDF troops in the West Bank village of Duma.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Failure to bring the Jewish extremists behind the Duma arson attack to justice would risk “setting the region on fire,” Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon warned Tuesday.
“They could carry out additional terrorist acts and murder innocents, setting the region on fire,” he said. “We are obligated to fight these terrorist activities. They violate our values and they are dangerous to us all.”
The defense minister vehemently rejected allegations of abuse and torture leveled against the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) in its investigation and attempts to track down those responsible for the July murder of Palestinian parents and their toddler son.
“I have full confidence and am giving full support to Shin Bet head Yoram Cohen, to Shin Bet personnel and to the Shin Bet in general, in light of the despicable attacks they are experiencing in recent days,” Ya’alon said.
Investigations into Jewish terrorism are aimed at extremists seeking to “deteriorate the security situation in Israel,” he said, adding that the intelligence agency is investing “many hours and days to solve the terrorist attack in Duma, which, unfortunately, was carried out by Jewish extremist terrorists. This group has no connection to the ethical public that lives in Judea and Samaria and which has been harmed through this path despite being innocent.”
Ya’alon condemned the “callous lies” and attempt to deceive the public, as well as the “irresponsible, dangerous manipulations” by lawyers representing the Duma suspects, as well as some ministers, MKs and elected officials.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu also threw his support behind the Shin Bet and its investigation.
“There is Arab terrorism that we are taking care of – that we are fighting day and night on every front,” he said.
“But, unfortunately, from time to time there is also terrorist activity that is carried out by Jews and the Shin Bet is taking care of them, as well. We will not accept terrorism from any side.”
He spoke just one day after settler leaders called on him to investigate allegations that the Shin Bet is torturing the Duma suspects in its custody.
The NGO Honenu, whose attorneys have defended those arrested in connection with the case, charged on Sunday that a 17-year-old suspect had attempted to commit suicide after he was tortured. The Shin Bet has denied that charge. On Monday, Channel 2 interviewed a young man who said he had been tortured while being held by the Shin Bet for nine days.
Attorney Itamar Ben-Gvir charged that his client, whom he was allowed to meet with only early Tuesday morning after the young man had been held in custody for 21 days, also had been tortured. Ben-Gvir spoke to the media after a Petah Tikva court extended his client’s arrest until Monday.
It’s assumed that, at that time, the arrest will once again be extended.
Ben-Gvir said his client was broken from the torture, both mentally and physically, and had become a shadow of his former self. Among other things, he said his client had been tied to a bed; tied upside down; instruments of torture were used against him; and he was deprived of sleep.
The client was told that, if he did not confess, the torture would continue until he did, Ben-Gvir recounted on his behalf. Any confession obtained under these circumstances is unlikely to hold up in court, according to Ben- Gvir.
A group of dozens of psychologists and social workers signed a petition on Tuesday in which they called for a halt to all torture of suspects who are minors, which they said violated the country’s basic laws.