the Dawabsha house which was set on fire in a suspected attack by Jewish extremists in Duma..
(photo credit: AMMAR AWAD / REUTERS)
A number of Jewish youths arrested in recent days by security forces are being investigated “in the context of concrete suspicions” related to the deadly arson attack on a Palestinian home in the village of Duma, the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) said on Thursday, following days of intensive media speculation over a breakthrough in the case.
The July 31 attack by suspected far-Right extremists resulted in the murder of a Palestinian toddler and his parents.
The youths taken into custody are suspected of belonging to “a Jewish terrorist organization and of carrying out terrorist attacks,” the domestic intelligence agency, which has been leading the investigation, said in a statement.
A gag order has been imposed barring publication of any other details of the investigation, which also involves the Israel Police and state prosecutors, the Shin Bet said.
Terror attack in Duma
One of the suspects is a minor arrested by the Shin Bet and police eight days ago.
Since then, he has not been allowed to meet with an attorney or appear before a judge.
His attorney, Chai Haber, submitted a motion on Tuesday to have the gag order lifted, saying that the secrecy surrounding the arrests violates the rights of detainees and keeps the public in the dark.
On Thursday, after the case was made public, Haber said “in a country that purports to be a democracy, people can be made to disappear without anyone being able to examine the actions of law enforcement in the investigation. I am certain that when the picture becomes clearer we will see that the announcement that progress has been made in the investigation was not in touch with reality.”
Attorney Zion Amir, representing another of the minors in custody, said, “it’s hard to find justification for preventing meetings with attorneys. This is especially true in the case of a minor who is under arrest, and when you don’t know anything about the suspicions or the state of your client and everything is cloaked in secrecy.”
The Honenu legal aid organization said in a statement that the Shin Bet is “pressuring a minor under arrest through intensive interrogation of his family members.” Honenu said a nurse who works at a hospital in central Israel had been questioned by Judea and Samaria Central Unit detectives.
Attorney Avihai Hajbi of Honenu accused the Shin Bet of using tactics that “befit a Third World country, by denying suspects’ relatives the right to meet with an attorney.”
Addressing the Duma attack in September, Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon said those responsible represent a significantly bigger threat than far-Right “price tag” activists, and that the perpetrators are not connected to hilltop youth who routinely spray-paint hate messages.
“Their aim is to cause a flareup in the security situation on the ground,” Ya’alon told reporters during a meeting at the Defense Ministry in Tel Aviv. “We decided that administrative detention and banning orders [restricting access to the West Bank] are the steps we need to take, so that there will be no more terrorist attacks.”
Acknowledging that administrative detention is “draconian,” Ya’alon said the security establishment had little choice, explaining that its top priority is preventing loss of life and a deterioration in the security situation.
“We believe we know who carried out the attacks,” Ya’alon added.
The defense minister recounted how, when he was commander of the IDF’s Judea and Samaria Division in 1992 and 1993, security forces placed 59 members of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine terrorist organization in administrative detention for a few years, based on intelligence that connected them to Kalashnikov rifles used in a spate of deadly shootings. The arrests were made despite the lack of sufficient legal evidence for a trial.
After their release, many of the terrorists “went back” to carrying out attacks, Ya’alon said. •