Shin Bet sued by Otzma for NIS 2.5m. for alleged Jewish informant suicide

The activist was indicted for a mere price tag attempt after heavy Shin Bet interrogation.

Old rope with hangman’s noose (illustrative). (photo credit: INGIMAGE)
Old rope with hangman’s noose (illustrative).
(photo credit: INGIMAGE)
Otzma Yehudit leader and lawyer Itamar Ben-Gvir filed a lawsuit late Sunday night against the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) for allegedly failing to prevent the suicide of a Jew who was informing on other right-wing Jews.
The unprecedented lawsuit has little chance of success as spy agencies generally do not have specific legal obligations to save their informants, even as many agencies take this on as a matter of ethics or professionalism.
There are even some instances when spy agencies cut their losses with undercover agents, intentionally severing ties as part of a greater tragedy, though such a move might be more complicated for an Israeli citizen spying on other Israeli citizens.
According to a statement by Ben-Gvir, the incident involved a resident of Havat Gilad in Samaria, about two years ago.
The statement added that there was a recording of the resident, who was an undercover agent, warning his handler that he would commit suicide, and that the handler was negligent in failing to take action to save him.
Once again, there is no specific legal obligation to prevent an undercover agent from committing suicide, and any lawsuit concerning Shin Bet spying on other Jews will likely be kept under wraps and potentially shut down since it could impact national security.
The question of Shin Bet spying on Jewish activists in the West Bank is highly controversial, but the agency is investing more resources for surveillance of extreme Jewish groups since the Jewish terrorist attack on a Palestinian family in Duma in 2015.
Meanwhile on Sunday night, a right-wing activist was indicted for a mere price tag attempt after four activists were heavily interrogated by the Shin Bet and prevented from speaking to their lawyers for up to six days.
Ultimately, a Shin Bet official clarified that the indicted activists was a separate incident and that the investigation into an alleged Jewish terror cell was ongoing, even though two suspects were already released from police custody to house arrest.
The Shin Bet had sent signals that this was a new major Jewish terrorist case to defend its extraordinary measures during the interrogations, which included holding the indicted activist Dor Oved, and others, in detention for two to three weeks.
Oved, 29, from Mevaseret Zion, allegedly came to Abu Gosh on January 5 to commit price tag attacks against Arab property.
There were signs that Oved might have even had violent intentions, as he was carrying a concealed knife and flammable materials. But the indictment against him in the Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court only cited him for charges relating to vandalizing property, illegal knife possession and obstruction of justice.
It was unclear why he was not indicted for an attempted violent crime, though a Justice Ministry spokesman said that it related to an inability to prove intent.
The obstruction of justice charge related to an attempt Oved made to clandestinely drop the knife out of his clothes before entering the police station, though the police secured the knife.
Overall though, the indictment is a minor charge, and the Shin Bet and law enforcement will need to produce harsher charges to justify treating the case of the four suspects like a potential Jewish terror cell.
The Petah Tikva Magistrate’s Court had already ordered three other suspects released on January 13 after initial arrests as early as January 1.
The four suspects allege that the Shin Bet roughed them up and violated their rights during interrogation, including sleep deprivation.
Lawyers from the group Honenu, a legal aid organization, representing the detainees and led by Adi Keidar, last week demanded a probe into how the Shin Bet has treated its clients.
Keidar has accused the Shin Bet of arbitrarily arresting right-wing activists to show it is doing something to combat a recent increase in price tag incidents against Arabs.
Earlier in January, a series of seemingly contradictory rulings were issued by the same Petah Tikva Magistrate’s Court and by the higher Lod District Court concerning whether their rights were violated.
Prior to those rulings, the Supreme Court had endorsed the Shin Bet’s blocking the detainees from meeting with their lawyers in the early days of the case.
Honenu does not necessarily deny that price tag attacks have occurred, rather it questions whether the agency has any evidence against the persons it arrested and disputes the severity of the actions in question.
The Shin Bet on January 13 reaffirmed its statement that all four detainees’ rights are being preserved and that “claims from interested parties about violation of detainees’ rights are baseless and designed to present a false public impression in order to delegitimize the Shin Bet.”
The agency said that all of its actions follow court-approved guidelines along with regular prosecution from the state prosecution office.
It said that the Shin Bet “would continue to act to thwart terror as terror,” usually a code phrase to say that it will stop Jewish terrorists the same as it stops Palestinian terrorists.
Jerusalem Post Staff contributed to this report.