Settlers leaders to Netanyahu: Probe torture claims by Duma suspects

‘I can’t stand it anymore, give me poison,’ teen has told judge of time in Shin Bet custody, says NGO Honenu.

December 21, 2015 22:29
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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Three settler leaders urged Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday to investigate claims that the Shin Bet tortured the Duma arson suspects in its custody.

“Mr. Prime Minister, you must stop the madness,” they wrote in a letter to Netanyahu.

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The document was signed by Samaria Regional Council head Yossi Dagan, Gush Etzion Regional Council head Davidi Perl and South Hebron Hills Regional Council head Yochai Damari.

“You must immediately investigate the serious charges that minors have been tortured, which constitutes a grave violation of human rights,” they said.

Investigators in Israel should not become the judges and executioners, they said.

The settler leaders acknowledged that Israel was under growing international pressure to find the perpetrators of the July 2 incident in the West Bank village of Duma in which suspected Jewish extremists firebombed a home in the middle of the night killing Sa’ad Dawabshe, 31, his wife, Reham, 27 and their 18-month-old son, Ali.

To date, no one has been indicted in their murders, although the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) has made a number of arrests in connection to the case.

The murderers must be caught, the leaders said, but the foundations of democracy and justice should not be undermined in the process.

The Shin Bet said its investigations were done according the law and were supervised by the courts and the Attorney- General’s office.

But on Monday night Channel 2 interviewed a 24-year-old Israeli who was released from Shin Bet custody, who claimed that he had been beaten and denied sleep during his nine days in custody.

During the interrogations the investigators acknowledged they knew he had not committed the murders, but rather they sought information from him on the perpetrators.

At points, the young man told the network that he became so confused, he almost believed that he himself had been in Duma.

Attorney Itamar Ben-Gvir said his client, who is in Shin Bet custody in connection with the case, was also tortured and the court has already acknowledged that such activity has occurred.

The court has also barred him from meeting with his client until Tuesday, just past midnight, when 21 days will have passed since his client’s arrest.

At that point, Israeli law mandates that his client must have access to an attorney.

The High Court of Justice denied a petition to allow him access earlier than the 21 days, Ben-Gvir said.

On Sunday, the nongovernmental group Honenu charged that a 17-year-old suspect held for questioning in Jewish terrorist activity, attempted suicide after he was tortured.

Honenu offers legal assistance to Jewish right-wing activists. This includes those accused of hate crimes and/ or terrorist activity.

“One of the minors detained and tortured by the Shin Bet attempted suicide by slitting his wrists as a result of the physical and emotional pressure,” Honenu told the media.

It based its information on a hearing before a local court in Petah Tikva, which agreed on Sunday to extend the teen’s detention by four days.

The hearing was closed to the media. But the teenager’s family provided Honenu with details from the hearing, which included information about the suicide as well as instances of torture.

The Shin Bet said the claim of the attempted suicide “is baseless.”

But according to the Honenu, the teenager in question has complained to the court that he has been tortured at each hearing that has been held since his arrest almost a month ago. He has told the court that he would rather die than continue to endure such physical pain, Honenu said.

His attorney, Adi Keidar, said it is clear from his wrists that he attempted suicide.

According to the family, among other things, he has been tortured throughout the night, so that he was prevented from sleeping and held upside down to the point where he felt like his hands were burning.

The teenager has explained that the Shin Bet is looking for information that he does not possess and therefore he can not give them the answers that would make them stop torturing him, according to Honenu.

“I can’t stand it anymore, give me poison,” he has told the judges, Honenu said.

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