Palestinian children play in the yard of the Dawabsha family home in Duma in December, 2015.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
The Shin Bet is violating the rights of Israeli citizens, and its behavior “resembles dark regimes of the past,” the leadership of a West Bank settlement said Wednesday, protesting the security service’s treatment of a suspect arrested for the arson-murder of an 18-month-old Palestinian boy and his parents.
“Over the past week we have discovered to our deep frustration that, in the democratic state of Israel, serious, grave acts can be carried out by law enforcement against ordinary citizens,” the letter, penned by Rabbi Ohad Krakover of the Kochav Hashachar settlement, states.
The letter laments the treatment of a suspect recently brought in for questioning, who they say has been prevented from praying, and whose remand has been extended repeatedly, all under a gag order.
“For a state that purports to protect individual rights regardless of religion, gender or personal views, this crosses red lines,” Krakover writes.
Though most of the case remains under a sweeping media ban, on December 3 the Shin Bet announced that they had made a number of arrests in connection with the arson, which killed all the members of the Dawabsha family of Duma, except the sole surviving four-year-old son, who remains hospitalized.
Since the arrests were cleared for publication, media reports have suggested that Israeli security forces have used extreme and controversial investigatory tactics against the Jewish suspects in order to try and gather evidence and or confessions to help build indictments in the case.
Attorneys for the suspects say they have banned from meeting with their clients, whose remands have been extended in some cases without them appearing before a judge.
On Tuesday the state told the High Court of Justice that it is not ready to bring the suspects in the Duma terrorist attack to trial.
The move followed a petition submitted to the High Court by Meretz MK Esawi Frej against Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon and Attorney- General Yehuda Weinstein, which demanded they take “legal steps against the Dawabsha family’s murderers.”
The state told the High Court Tuesday that it needs more time to continue its investigation into the attack.
Frej argued in his petition that Ya’alon and Weinstein were not taking “the necessary legal steps against the murderers of the Dawabsha family, in order not to expose intelligence sources.”
Frej highlighted comments made by Ya’alon on September 9, in which he stated that “the security forces know who is responsible for the terrorist attack in which the Dawabsha family house in Duma was set on fire, but are reluctant to put them on trial in order not to expose intelligence sources.”
Dan Yakir, the chief legal counsel of the Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI), said that preventing suspects from meeting with their attorneys or appearing before a judge constitutes violations of their rights.
“The fear is that they are using these measures more often in order to isolate suspects and put pressure on them in order to force them to cooperate,” Yakir said, adding “there is no justification for violating the rights of suspects even in the case of very depraved and terrible crimes.
These basic rights are ensured by the law and the High Court has upheld this.”