Some of the Jewish minors arrested and questioned by the Shin Bet over the last week are suspects in the murder of Palestinian woman Aysha Ravi, the Israel Security Agency said Sunday.
Ravi, a mother of nine, was hit by rocks while driving in her car near the Tapuah Barrier in the West Bank and killed on October 12.
With her husband beside her, she was injured when the stones struck her head and taken to the hospital where she later died.
From the start, there was testimony from the Palestinian side that Jewish rock throwers had been involved, but no one had been caught until last Sunday.
The Shin Bet said that some of those five Jews arrested to date, three last Sunday and two more on Saturday, are also suspected of other Jewish terror offenses.
A statement from the agency said that the minors are students at Pri Haaretz Yeshiva in Riheilim which is near where the incident occurred.
Further, it said that on the day after the incident, a group of Yitzhar residents drove that Saturday (despite most Yitzhar residents identifying as Shabbat-observant which prohibits driving) to Riheilim to prepare the suspects for how to combat being questioned by the Shin Bet.
The Shin Bet did not clarify how it knew about this meeting or how the Yitzhar group was connected to the Rihelim group and refused to clarify which of the five were suspected in which crimes, saying the remainder of the probe is still under gag order pending the investigation.
Three of the suspects have been detained by the Shin Bet since last Sunday and only got to speak to their lawyers for the first time last night
The detention of all five suspects was extended until at least Thursday.
“Since the arrests, the Shin Bet has identified a continuous and active effort from interested parties to slander the organization and its agents and to delegitimize its activities,” said the Shin Bet.
The agency’s statement continued, “This attempt should be condemned and should not be assisted and nothing should be done to weaken the Shin Bet from continuing its efforts to thwart terror in any form – Jewish or Palestinian. All of this based on the value’s of the state and for the sake of national security.”
A lawyer for some of the suspects, Itamar Ben Gvir, responded to the Shin Bet statement saying that the agency had not succeeded in getting the minors to confess. He said they had stuck to their right to remain silent, that there was no evidence against them and that they had been traumatized by the interrogation.
At a press conference later in the afternoon, Ben Gvir added that when he met his client last night, he looked like a broken person. He said that the Shin Bet had spit on him and used sexual threats as well as an improper use of undercover agents to try to get him to confess.
Lawyer Adi Keidar, who represents another suspect, echoed Ben Gvir regarding treatment during the interrogation and added that his client was chained to a chair from morning until evening.
The Shin Bet statement said that all of its interrogations have followed the law, been supervised by the state prosecution and receive court oversight.
More specifically, it reminded the public that lawyers of the minors twice asked the court to let them talk to their clients and that the court rejected both requests due to the severity of the allegations – at least until the Shin Bet relented Saturday night.
It rejected all allegations of violating the suspects’ rights and said it has prevented hundreds of terror attacks in Judea and Samaria this past year, including Jewish ones.
In addition, the Shin Bet said that the minors had been detained separate from grown-ups as required by law and that they had been provided tefillin (prayer phylacteries), talitot (prayer shawls) and kosher food throughout the probe.
The Shin Bet added that the minors had not filed any formal complaints to the prison doctors or to the courts about their treatment.
Moreover, the agency distributed photos and a video of the burning of an Israeli flag and of writing “death to Zionists” and a Nazi symbol on an Israeli flag which it said were connected to some of the suspects in an effort to illustrate their ideology.
None of the minors’ lawyers mentioned enhanced interrogation, which was used on the July 2015 Jewish defendants in the Duma murder case - currently in an ongoing trial.
In the Duma case
, while some confessions obtained by the Shin Bet were invalidated by the court, many were accepted, and to date, none of the Shin Bet investigators involved have faced charges for misconduct.
Meanwhile, right-wing activist supporters of the minors protested outside the Rishon Lezion Magistrate’s Court holding detention proceedings for the minors and another group of protesters blocked roads in Jerusalem.
Hadashot also played a recording late Sunday of a Shin Bet agent interviewing a parent of a student at the Pri Haaretz Yeshiva in which the agent said at least one of the students was definitely involved in the deadly rock throwing incident.
Regarding the Israeli flag pictures, Ben Gvir said that the face that the Shin Bet had not raised these issues in court suggested they were not serious issues in the case.
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