Firebombing suspects allege torture as case reported to move forward

Security agency denies one suspect’s claim that he tried to slit his wrists over harsh interrogation methods; indictments over Duma attack expected in coming weeks

One of the suspects arrested in connection with the Dawabsha murder, December 3, 2015. Under a court-issued gag order, the identities of the suspects cannot be revealed. (Screen capture)
One of the suspects arrested in connection with the Dawabsha murder, December 3, 2015. Under a court-issued gag order, the identities of the suspects cannot be revealed. (Screen capture)

Israeli detainees held in connection with an investigation into the fatal firebombing of a Palestinian home have alleged torture and abuse at the hands of their interrogators, as officials indicate they will move toward indictments in the case in the coming weeks.

One detainee reportedly alleged that he had tried to slit his wrists in despair over harsh interrogation methods, a claim swiftly denied by the Shin Bet security service.

Several Jewish terror suspects have been arrested and are being interrogated by the Shin Bet on allegations of being involved with the July 31 firebombing of the Dawabsha family home in the Palestinian village of Duma.

The investigation into the attack, which left an 18-month-old baby and his two parents dead and a second child badly burned, has yet to result in any charges against suspects, drawing criticism over the slow pace of the investigation.

Indictments will be served against “at least some” of the detainees in coming weeks, according to Israel Radio.

Last week, officials announced they had arrested several suspects over the case, announcing a breakthrough but warning that much work remained ahead of them.

Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon has said on several occasions that while security officials are confident they know who the perpetrators are, they do not yet have enough evidence to level charges.

The investigation is still under a strict gag order, and the detainees’ attorneys claimed more than once already that the Shin Bet used methods of torture in the interrogations, which they said cast a doubt on the reliability of the information they extracted from the detainees.

On Sunday one of the detainees said at the Petah Tikva Magistrate’s Court that he had been subjected to extreme torture and attempted to commit suicide as a result.

The Shin Bet countered that the interrogation was conducted within the boundaries of the law and that the detainee’s claim that he tried to kill himself was baseless.

“Every day it rises up a notch… I didn’t sleep tonight and I won’t sleep tomorrow night unless something is going to change,” one detainee said in court on Sunday, according to Israeli daily Haaretz. “They are interrogating me violently over something I can’t help them with because I don’t know.”

The unnamed detainee, according to Haaretz, had in the past published a clip mocking the Shin Bet’s methods of interrogation. He said in court that he tried slitting his wrists due to the stress of the interrogation, and was prevented from meeting his lawyer until Wednesday last week.

“A whole night they abused me and we didn’t make any progress because I can’t help them. Now the abuse will only grow worse. I scream like I’m retarded, cry like a baby, and they laugh: ‘Murderer, murderer.’ Where will I escape to?… This is the worst disgrace the State of Israel has ever committed against a person,” the detainee told the judge.

At the hearing, Judge Erez Nurieli ordered that the suspect remain in custody.

The arrests of the Jewish terror suspects, which have come amid a general crackdown on Jewish extremists in the wake of the attack, have angered many right wing Jewish activists, who on Sunday night clashed with police in Jerusalem at a protest. Around 300 people blocked a road at the entrance to Jerusalem intermittently and six people were arrested by police.

On Saturday night, some 500 right-wing activists demonstrated in Jerusalem over allegations of torture by the Shin Bet security service.

Demonstrators stood outside the Jerusalem home of Shin Bet chief Yoram Cohen carrying signs that read, “We demand justice” and “Enough persecution by the [state] prosecution.”

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