Top justice official visits Duma suspects amid torture claims
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Top justice official visits Duma suspects amid torture claims

Deputy A-G Raz Nizri’s meeting considered extraordinary step, but attorney for suspects in deadly firebombing says not enough time spent with detainees

Right-wing activists protest alleged Shin Bet torture of Jewish terror suspects, staging mock torture scenes in Tel Aviv, December 25, 2015. (Tomer Neuberg/Flash90)
Right-wing activists protest alleged Shin Bet torture of Jewish terror suspects, staging mock torture scenes in Tel Aviv, December 25, 2015. (Tomer Neuberg/Flash90)

A senior official from the Justice Ministry recently visited suspects in the Duma terror case to examine them, in an extraordinary measure amid allegations from their attorneys that they have undergone torture by the Shin Bet security service. The Shin Bet and the government have denied the claims, although the Shin Bet has acknowledged “manhandling” the suspects, having classified them as “ticking bombs” who may have information on future planned attacks.

According to Channel 2, Deputy Attorney General Raz Nizri visited the Shin Bet security service’s facility, where the prisoners were being held, in order to determine if they had been subject to abuse.

The right-wing activists are suspected of having carried out a terror attack in the Palestinian village of Duma in the West Bank in July, in which firebombs were thrown into the Dawabsha family home, killing an 18-month-old baby boy and his parents.

The report did not detail when Nizri visited the detainees.

Raz Nazri (Knesset Channel screenshot)
Raz Nazri (Knesset Channel screenshot)

The attorney for the suspects in the fatal attack told the TV station that Nizri did not speak to the detainees at length and the visit was insufficient to gauge the extent of the abuse.

Lawyers have alleged that the Shin Bet is using extraordinary measures against the suspects — whose names remain under gag order — to extract information about the deadly firebombing. The Shin Bet denies these claims.

The allegations sparked a number of protests in Jerusalem over the past weeks, which continued Sunday as some 150 people gathered in the capital to protest the alleged torture.

The activists were mostly residents of the West Bank settlement of Kochav Hashachar, according to the Ynet news website. The demonstrators condemned the alleged torture of the Jewish suspects, and urged the closure of the Shin Bet’s department that deals with crimes by Jews.

Right-wing activists protest in downtown Jerusalem against the alleged torture of Jewish teens held by the Shin Bet security service suspected of carrying out a deadly firebombing attack, which killed three members of the Dawabsha family in the West Bank town of Duma in July, on” December 27, 2015. (Flash90)
Right-wing activists protest in downtown Jerusalem against the alleged torture of Jewish teens held by the Shin Bet security service suspected of carrying out a deadly firebombing attack, which killed three members of the Dawabsha family in the West Bank town of Duma in July, on” December 27, 2015. (Flash90)

On Saturday evening, Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon said indictments against the Jewish extremists suspected of carrying out the July firebomb attack are expected soon.

“I estimate that it won’t be too long before we see indictments against the murderers, who, to our dismay, are Jewish terrorists,” Ya’alon told Channel 2 television’s Meet the Press program.

He also said that the Israeli defense establishment is implementing severe measures to ensure that such an incident does not happen again.

“We have taken draconian steps to prevent another Jewish terror attack,” said Ya’alon, a former Israel Defense Forces chief.

An Israeli woman enters the burnt home of the Dawabsha family in Duma on August 2, 2015, following a terror attack the week before. (Yossi Zamir/Flash90)
An Israeli woman enters the burnt home of the Dawabsha family in Duma on August 2, 2015, following a terror attack the week before. (Yossi Zamir/Flash90)

Riham and Saad Dawabsha and their 18-month-old baby Ali died in the July 31 attack on their home in Duma in the West Bank — Ali in the blaze started by the firebomb and his parents in the following days. The sole surviving member of the family, five-year-old Ahmed, is being treated for severe burns in an Israeli hospital.

Indictments in the fatal firebombing could be issued on Tuesday, Channel 10 reported Friday.

Ya’alon also called for the investigation of rabbis who incite far-right extremists to carry out attacks against Arabs.

Ya’alon was speaking days after a video surfaced of far-rightists at a wedding celebrating the killings of the Dawabsha family, sparking widespread condemnation. The video shows attendees at the wedding calling for more “revenge,” brandishing machine-guns and knives, and stabbing photographs of Ali Dawabsha.

Ya’alon said Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu screened the footage from the wedding at last week’s cabinet meeting, and “you could see the horror” among those ministers who had previously questioned the Shin Bet’s handling of the case.

Israeli security forces detain a right-wing protester during a demonstration on December 20, 2015 against the arrest of Jewish youth suspected of involvement in the July arson attack in the West Bank village of Duma. (Photo by Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Israeli security forces detain a right-wing protester during a demonstration on December 20, 2015, against the arrest of Jewish youth suspected of involvement in the July arson attack in the West Bank village of Duma. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Uri Ariel, a minister from the right-wing, religious Jewish Home party, last week urged the attorney general to investigate the Shin Bet’s handling of the suspects, protesting the “chilling” accounts of torture.

But Ya’alon — along with Netanyahu and Jewish Home leader Naftali Bennett — has defended the Shin Bet investigation into the attack.

Those who attack the Shin Bet are lending a hand to murder, Ya’alon said Saturday, repeating his support for the agency. “Terrorism is terrorism, Arab or Jewish,” he said.

Saad and Riham Dawabsha, with baby Ali (Channel 2 screenshot)
Saad and Riham Dawabsha, with baby Ali (Channel 2 screenshot)

In an unprecedented public statement, the Shin Bet on Thursday acknowledged the use of the so-called “ticking bomb” protocol in the interrogation of Jewish extremists, enabling the security service to “manhandle” detainees suspected of planning imminent attacks.

“If only it had been Arabs who carried out the Duma attack,” said Ya’alon in the interview. “I wish I could tell you that was the case. To my sorrow, it was people who think of themselves as Jews. In my opinion, what they did is not Jewish. And there are rabbis who, in their sermons, prompt irresponsible youths to these actions. We also need to investigate those rabbis, whose remarks push the youths to take action.”

Almost 100 alleged far-right Orthodox Jewish extremists are currently either being questioned by the Shin Bet security service, are facing legal action, are in jail, or are under restriction orders, according to a list maintained by a group of their supporters on Facebook.

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