IDF court extends detention of ‘tortured’ Palestinian suspect while in hospital

Last week, an IDF court rejected Arbid’s defense lawyers’ request to release him from the status of being a detainee on the grounds that he was at least temporarily in a coma.

IDF manhunt for terrorist who murdered Rina Shnerb (photo credit: IDF SPOKESMAN’S UNIT)
IDF manhunt for terrorist who murdered Rina Shnerb
(photo credit: IDF SPOKESMAN’S UNIT)
An IDF court extended the detention status of a Palestinian suspect who was hospitalized on September 28 following his interrogation for the alleged terror killing of Rina Shnerb, but delayed deciding whether he will be sent back to the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency.)
The decision extended Samer Mina Salim Arbid’s detention status until Thursday, following a similar decision last week to extend his detention for a few days while he recovers in the hospital.
In addition, the Supreme Court rejected a petition on Monday by Arbid’s lawyers for access to meet with him, saying that the courts had allowed family members to attend to Arbid while he was unconscious. The court said that now that he is awake, security considerations required no further access for the time being.
An IDF court rejected Arbid’s defense lawyers’ request last week to release him from the status of being a detainee on the grounds that he was at least temporarily in a coma
The defense lawyers said that Arbid, who was arrested by security forces on September 25, was tortured by the Shin Bet during his interrogation, and that he was almost killed as a result.
The IDF court ruled last week that even as his medical condition was serious on September 29, his medical situation had improved sufficiently to indicate that he was likely to make a full recovery in the near future.
Therefore, the IDF court said, it would send him back to the Shin Bet for further interrogation based on the IDF Prosecution’s evidence that Arbid was involved in killing Shnerb and other violent terrorist activities.
The Jerusalem Post has learned that at a detention hearing before the military court on September 26, Arbid complained of various pains from his interrogation by the Shin Bet.
Despite these warning signs, the interrogation continued, and when Arbid was transferred to Hadassah-University Medical Center by September 28, he was considered in critical condition.
The Public Committee Against Torture in Israel (PCATI) said that Hadassah-University Medical Center will need to make a grave decision if the IDF court orders Arbid returned to the Shin Bet.
On the one hand, PCATI said that Israeli hospitals do not refuse to release detainees back to the security authorities.
On the other hand, PCATI said that Arbid’s case has been in the public eye in Israel and Palestine, and that the ethical regulations guiding all physicians and the Tokyo Protocol – endorsed by the World Medical Association and the Israeli Medical Association – are crystal clear: doctors cannot allow a detainee to be questioned on hospital grounds, and they cannot knowingly release a prisoner back to an interrogation employing torture.
At press time, Hadassah-University Medical Center had not replied to inquiries from the Post regarding the issue.
On September 29, the Justice Ministry unit for probing alleged torture by the Shin Bet issued a vague statement that it was reviewing the case.
The Post has learned that the unit is moving faster than usual in probing the case and has already interviewed Arbid's wife.
This is following a letter from PCATI's letter to Attorney-General Avichai Mandelblit demanding that the initial probe of the alleged torture be wrapped up in a period of weeks with a decision about whether a criminal investigation will be pursued.
PCATI frequently points out that the unit for probing alleged torture by the Shin Bet has only opened a criminal investigation in one case out of around 1,200 complaints since the year 2000, nearly always closing cases.
Further, PCATI has slammed the unit for an average decision timeline of around 39 months.
While the unit was moved from the Shin Bet to the Justice Ministry in 2014 with significant fan-fair about its new and greater independence, government officials acknowledge that part of the delays come from the unit being underfunded.
In addition, the unit had no director for approximately a full year until August 26 when Guy Asher was appointed to replace Jana Modgavrishvili, who had stepped down in September 2018.
The Shin Bet says it never tortures and that any “moderate pressure” it applies is within boundaries set by the High Court of Justice and saves lives.