Itamar murder suspects 'confessed under torture'

IDF "covering up for crimes against our people," says mother of Awad suspect; Awarta mayor: Killers couldn’t have come from my village.

Mother of Fogel murder suspect 311 (photo credit: REUTERS)
Mother of Fogel murder suspect 311
(photo credit: REUTERS)
The families of the two Palestinian teens arrested in connection with the grisly killings of members of the Fogel family in Itamar last month said on Sunday they don’t believe the version given by the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) about the role of their sons in the case.
The families and many fellow residents of the village of Awarta claimed the two – Hakim Maazan Niad Awad, 18, and Amjad Mahmud Fauzi Awad, 19 – had confessed under “torture.”
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The mayor of Awarta, who also refused to accept the Shin Bet’s version, called for an international inquiry to reveal the identity of the “real murderers.” Some villagers expressed fear that Awarta would be targeted by settlers seeking revenge.
“My son was at home on the night the incident took place in the settlement,” said the mother of Hakim Awad.
“He did not leave home at all that night.”
Awad’s mother said he underwent surgery in his lower abdomen about five months ago, and that was why he may have confessed.
“I’m sure they tortured him and forced him to sign a confession,” she said. “His physical condition does not allow him to withstand torture.
Everyone who knows my son is sure that he’s innocent.”
The mother claimed the IDF was trying to “cover up for its crimes against our people and they chose these two young men as scapegoats.”
She also pointed out that her family lives “on the other side of the village – far from Itamar” – a fact she said would have made it even harder for her son to commit the killings.
Hakim Awad’s aunt said the family already had five “martyrs” – an uncle, three cousins and a brother-in-law.
She described Hakim as the “shy type” who rarely socialized with other teens.
“He was a high-school pupil in the Awarta Secondary School and did not have relationships with people older than him,” she said.
The mayor of Awarta, Qais Awad, also expressed doubts about the involvement of the two teenagers in the Itamar attack and called for an international investigation into the case.
He said Sunday’s Shin Bet announcement about the identity of the suspects was aimed at “covering up for the occupation’s crimes against the village over the past 35 days.”
Israel has failed and is now trying to cover up for what its security forces did in our village by issuing this announcement, he added.
He was referring to the village having been sealed off during this time, with widespread detentions and searches.
The mayor expressed fear that his village would be targeted by “angry settlers” and the IDF because of the arrests. He added that while he strongly condemned the Itamar killings, he was confident that the perpetrators could not have come from his village.
Hussein Awad, a relative of the two suspects, said many residents were surprised to hear about the arrests.
“We find it hard to believe that two teenagers would commit such a despicable crime,” he said. “Maybe they confessed under torture. We heard that the Israeli army had arrested the sister of one of them and that this put pressure on him.”
The Palestinian Authority did not issue a response to the Awarta arrests. However, a PA official in Ramallah said Sunday’s announcement “proves that no Palestinian organization was behind the attack on the settlement.”