Justice minister meets with parents of Jewish murder suspects, drawing flak

Ayelet Shaked accused of extending courtesy to terror suspects she would never give Palestinians; judge tells police to probe claim suspect was violently interrogated by Shin Bet

Jacob Magid is The Times of Israel's US correspondent based in New York

Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked speaks during a ceremony at the President's Residence in Jerusalem, on August 9, 2018. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)
Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked speaks during a ceremony at the President's Residence in Jerusalem, on August 9, 2018. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)

Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked met on Monday with the families of five Jewish minors arrested last week on suspicion of involvement in the October stone-throwing that led to the death of a 47-year-old Palestinian woman.

The Honenu legal aid organization representing four of of the five suspects in Aisha Rabi’s murder confirmed the visit and said in a statement that the families thanked the minister for her time.

The five are suspected of throwing stones at Palestinian cars in the West Bank on October 12, leading to the death of Aisha Rabi, a mother of eight, when a rock came through the windshield of the car she was traveling with her husband and daughter.

Tamar Zandberg, the chairwoman of the left-wing Meretz party, blasted the news, claiming that Shaked’s New Right party has “different standards for Jews and Arabs.

“Instead of doing soul-searching, she is making an electoral calculation and running into the arms of families accused of terror,” Zandberg said in a statement.

This was the second reported contact Shaked has made with the parents of the Jewish terror suspects.

The recent co-founder of the New Right party spoke on the phone with the mother of one of the suspects last Thursday, telling her to “stay strong” and that she would relay the woman’s concerns regarding her son’s treatment in Israeli custody to the relevant authorities.

In taking the call, Shaked was criticized by left-wing pundits as having granted a courtesy to Israeli terror suspects she has never shown to Palestinian terror suspects.

The mother began the call, leaked to the Kan broadcaster, by begging Shaked to speak with State Prosecutor Shai Nitzan and ensure that he allows her son to see a lawyer.

The Lod District Court had signed off on security officials’ request barring her son and another two minors from meeting with an attorney for nearly a week following their arrest last Sunday.

Two other suspects were arrested nearly a week later and they too have been barred from meeting with a lawyer, but Honenu announced Monday that it had reached a deal with the Shin Bet security service in which the two teens will be allowed to meet with counsel for the first time on Tuesday morning.

Israeli law allows authorities to delay an attorney visit for a terrorism suspect by up to 21 days — subject to court appeal.

In 2015, Shaked came under fire for meeting with the mother of an Israeli-American teen arrested in the Duma firebombing case, in which three members of a Palestinian family were killed by Jewish extremists.

Judge asks for probe into suspect’s torture complaint

Also Monday, Honenu reported that a Rishon Lezion Magistrate’s Court judge ordered police to investigate a complaint by one of the suspects in Rabi’s murder who claimed he was violently interrogated by Shin Bet security agents.

The directive was given during a Sunday hearing in which the judge extended the 16-year-old’s detention until Thursday. The same ruling was made in hearings for the four other suspects.

For its part, the Shin Bet has stood by its conduct throughout the investigation, saying that all practices are being carried out in accordance with the law.

At the same time, the security service claimed in a statement Sunday that the suspects did not raise any complaints regarding their treatment in Israeli custody when they appeared before a judge at their remand hearings.

A copy of the Sunday protocol obtained by The Times of Israel confirmed Honenu’s assertion that this was not the case and that one of the suspects did indeed tell the judge that he had been harassed and violently interrogated while in Shin Bet custody.

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