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Foreign report says American-Israeli teen held in Duma case

New York-based Forward newspaper names suspect; many details of case still under gag order in Israel

Duma terror suspect interviewed by Channel 2 (Channel 2 screenshot)
Duma terror suspect interviewed by Channel 2 (Channel 2 screenshot)

A New York-based Jewish newspaper named an American Israeli it said is among the suspects being held over the fatal firebombing of a Palestinian home in the West Bank in July.

The Forward spoke to relatives of the suspect, who said that American consular officials who sought to visit him in detention were turned away.

Most details of the case, in which three members of the Dawabsha family were killed after their home was firebombed while they slept, are barred from publication in Israel under a gag order.

Indictments against several suspects are reported to be imminent.

A lawyer for one of the suspects has alleged that his client has been tortured by the Shin Bet security service under investigation. “I met my client after 21 days, during which he was forbidden to meet an attorney,” Itamar Ben Gvir said Tuesday. “I met a man physically, mentally, broken, a man who needs psychotherapy. The Shin Bet investigators made him into a shadow of a man.”

Attorney Itamar Ben-Gvir from the Honenu legal aid organization seen during a press conference regarding the detention of Jewish youth in the Duma terror attack investigation, in Jerusalem on December 17, 2015. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Attorney Itamar Ben-Gvir from the Honenu legal aid organization seen during a press conference regarding the detention of Jewish youth in the Duma terror attack investigation, in Jerusalem on December 17, 2015. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

“Every day it goes up a level … I didn’t sleep last night and I won’t sleep tonight either, unless something changes,” the suspect named by the Forward said in court on Monday, according to a Haaretz report which did not name him. “They are violently questioning me about something I can’t help them with because I don’t know. They are taking me apart, bending my whole back, laughing and looking at me with contempt. The hell with it, what am I supposed to do?… They yell at me, ‘Murderer, murderer!’ Where can I run? Where is their doubt that maybe I’m actually right? This is the worst injustice the State of Israel can do to a person.”

But Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and other top ministers have backed the Shin Bet, with Netanyahu declaring Monday that all Shin Bet investigations were being conducted “in accordance with the law.”

Education Minister Naftali Bennett, leader of the Orthodox-nationalist Jewish Home party, voiced firm support Monday for the Shin Bet and its methods in the interrogation of the Jewish terror suspects. He also harshly condemned Jewish extremists, accusing them of using “murder” in a dangerous quest to “overthrow” the state.

“What was done to the Duma detainees is for certain not more, and probably less, than what is done regularly to Palestinian terror suspects,” he said Tuesday. “Only those who oppose the use of far-reaching tools against Palestinian terror — and there are some people like that — have a moral right to oppose the use of the same tools against Jewish terror.”

Saad and Riham Dawabsha, with baby Ali. All three died when the Dawabsha home in the West Bank village of Duma was firebombed, by suspected Jewish extremists, on July 31, 2015 (Channel 2 screenshot)
Saad and Riham Dawabsha, with baby Ali. All three died when the Dawabsha home in the West Bank village of Duma was firebombed, by suspected Jewish extremists, on July 31, 2015 (Channel 2 screenshot)

The July 31 firebombing has been ruled a Jewish terror attack by authorities, leading Israel’s security cabinet to vote to extend counter terror measures used in the West Bank against Palestinian terror.

Only one member of the Dawabsha family — son Ahmed — survived the attack on their home, and remains hospitalized in Israel. The 18-month-old baby Ali was killed on the night of the attack, while parents Riham and Sa’ad succumbed to their injuries in the succeeding weeks. Five-year-old Ahmed Dawabsha has begun to walk again after months of treatment for severe burns.

Other alleged Jewish extremists with dual citizenship are being held under administrative detention by the Shin Bet since the July 31 attack in Duma.

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