ATTORNEY ITAMAR BEN-GVIR, who is representing one of the suspects in the Duma terrorist attack, waits outside the Petah Tikva Magistrate’s Court.
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
A Petah Tikva Magistrate’s Court on Monday released to house arrest a young Jewish man who just spent 29 days in Shin Bet custody as a suspect in the Duma terrorist attack.
His release was delayed, however, after the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) appealed the order. A second hearing on the matter will be held Tuesday.
The judge issued the order after the prosecutor said pending charges against the 18-year-old were not related to the torching of a home in the West Bank village of Duma in which three Palestinians were killed.
Until Monday’s hearing, the young man’s family, as well as his attorney, Hai Haber, had understood that the 18-year-old is a suspect in the Duma killings.
To their surprise, when the charges were read out, they involved a two-year-old case with respect to a fight with a Beduin in which he was allegedly involved.
“After all the publicity and all the media hype, the prosecutors’ statement didn’t even deal with Duma, but with an old incident,” Haber said.
“It is both sad and serious that in the State of Israel a suspect can be arrested in connection with a murder case, interrogated for almost 30 days in poor condition and barred from meeting with his attorney for 17 days. The prosecutor presents secret documents to the court, speaks of his involvement with Duma and then comes to the court with charges from an old case,” Haber said.
He charged that in those 29 days the 18-year old was tortured by the Shin Bet and was deprived of both sleep and food. “For a month he was held in a room with only a mattress and a pail.”
The media and right-wing activists had focused their attention on the Petah Tikva proceedings, which involved closed-door hearings with regard to six Duma suspects.
It was believed that state prosecutors would read out the charges against the six, but the only charges discussed involved the fight with the Beduin.
No further information was revealed regarding the other five, who are still believed to be Duma suspects. Their custody was extended for two to three days.
“It’s scandalous,” said the non-governmental organization Honenu, which provides legal services to suspected Jewish terrorists and violent settlers, and is representing the Duma suspects.
Honenu has leaked information to the media with regard to the proceedings.
Police blocked off streets in front of the court to prevent right-wing activists from protesting the arrest of the six suspects. Several dozen activists managed to make it past the blockade.
They hung out on the lawn and across the street; some held up signs reading: “A Jew doesn’t torture a Jew.”
Families of the suspects sat in the hallway outside the courtroom consulting with their attorneys and waiting for their hearings. They have not been allowed access to the suspects so the hearings also provided them with their sole opportunity to see their sons.
In a statement issued to the media, they again called for a commission of inquiry into the treatment of their children.
Over the weekend, Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon said those involved in the Duma killings were involved in serious terrorist activity that went beyond the one incident and included plans to attempt to overthrow the state.
Education Minister Naftali Bennett spoke about how to deal with the attackers and their supporters and “stop the evil” during a meeting of the Knesset Land of Israel Caucus on Monday.
The Bayit Yehudi leader distanced himself and his party from the group, saying: “The Duma attackers are not religious Zionists. This is 180 degrees from religious Zionism.
We see the state as the beginning of the redemption, and their goal is to bring down the state.
“We are the state, if you haven’t noticed,” he added. “The Right is ruling.”
According to Bennett, the Education Ministry must treat the group of young men supporting the Duma attackers like youth at risk.
“There are 70-80 youngsters who have lost their way... We in the Education Ministry have to reach out and pull them out of the dangerous group, and use a heavy hand against the murderers,” he said. “We have to give the youngsters attention, gain their trust, and pull them out of this small and dangerous circle.”Lahav Harkov contributed to this report.