Shin Bet, right-wing group spar over treatment of detainee in murder case

In July 2015, the Palestinian Dawabshe family in Duma was burned to death, including 18-month-old Ali Dawabshe, by a terrorist arson attack that included spray-painted anti-Palestinian messages.

June 5, 2018 20:29
3 minute read.

Photo of the Year: Menahem Kahana of the French AFP agency shows three Palestinian women standing in the Dawabsheh family home in the West Bank town of Duma, shortly after the arson that led to the deaths of an 18-month-old baby and his parents.. (photo credit: MENAHEM KAHANA)


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With the climax in the Duma murders case coming next Monday, Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) and the right-wing legal group Honenu were butting heads on Tuesday over the agency’s alleged mistreatment of a Jewish minor who is a detainee in a new case.

The allegations against the Shin Bet for improper treatment obviously tie the two stories together. However, will we only know how serious the allegations against the current Jewish detainee are – in comparison to the July 2015 Duma murders of the Palestinian Dawabshe family – after the gag order is lifted.

The Lod District Court will rule next Monday on whether the Duma defendants’ confessions are admissible and were properly taken, or whether they must be tossed from the case due to the Shin Bet’s admitted enhanced interrogation of the defendants in 2015.

Though there will be a separate trial afterward, this ruling will likely essentially determine the result of that trial.

Regarding the new controversy, a Jewish minor has been under interrogation by the Shin Bet since last Tuesday and, like in the Duma case, the agency has taken the unusual measure of getting a court order barring him from meeting with his lawyers.

The minor, his parents and Honenu have accused the Shin Bet and the Israel Prisons Service, saying one of the minor’s interrogators sexually harassed him and that he was drugged to make him more susceptible to confessing.

Honenu filed a complaint with the Justice Ministry investigator of the Shin Bet and succeeded in getting the Supreme Court to accelerate an emergency hearing about the treatment of the minor.

But on Tuesday, the Rishon Lezion Magistrate’s Court, which was ordered to hear the issue, ruled against the minor and said the Shin Bet could continue to block his access to a lawyer for at least 48 hours and keep him in custody until at least Sunday.

The Jerusalem Post spoke about the allegations with Shin Bet and IPS representatives who strongly denied them.

The Post also learned that the minor did receive a drug to calm himself, but that the drug was a natural substance that had no impact on the minor’s abilities during interrogation.

Further, that counter-narrative emphasizes that the minor requested the drug repeatedly, and that even now when he is no longer being given the drug due to objections from his parents, he is still requesting it.

The Justice Ministry has refused to address the nature of the allegations to a gag order. However, according to Honenu, the allegations involve purposeful destruction of Arab property.

In April, the prosecution in the Duma case urged the public not to forget the horrors of the Duma murders and denied allegations by Honenu that the defendants in the case were tortured and that their confessions had been invalidated.

Moreover, the prosecution accused Honenu of misleading the public, while the prosecution remained bound by the gag order on the case in defending the validity of the confessions.

The extremely unusual prosecution statement responded to the parents of the defendants and to Honenu’s leaking that the prosecution had dropped those portions of the defendants’ confessions which were obtained through enhanced interrogation, in a move which could lead to an acquittal.

In July 2015, the Palestinian Dawabshe family in Duma was burned to death, including 18-month-old Ali Dawabshe, by a terrorist arson attack that included spray-painted anti-Palestinian messages.

The attack lit the Israeli-Palestinian conflict afire and led to the toughest crackdown by the Shin Bet on Jewish settler activists in recent memory, including employing enhanced interrogation against the two defendants connected to the case and blocking their access to lawyers for an extended period.

Honenu responded by calling on the prosecution to file a motion to remove the gag order on the case and to open the proceedings to the public. It asked rhetorically what the prosecution was trying to conceal through use of a gag order.

Amiram Ben Uliel is the primary defendant in the Duma case, along with a minor, whose name is under gag order.

The minor was eventually dropped from the Duma allegations, but is still connected to the debate about whether confessions he gave regarding his alleged involvement in the so-called price-tag incidents could be used in court, since the Shin Bet used enhanced interrogation on him.

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