Rightist arrested at protest on behalf of Duma Jewish terror suspects
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Rightist arrested at protest on behalf of Duma Jewish terror suspects

For second night in a row, activists try to block off entrance to Jerusalem; rioters puncture police cars’ tires

Judah Ari Gross is The Times of Israel's military correspondent.

Israeli security forces detaining a right-wing activist during a protest in Jerusalem on December 20, 2015, against the ongoing detention of Jewish youths in connection with the murder in July of three members of the Palestinian Dawabsha family. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Israeli security forces detaining a right-wing activist during a protest in Jerusalem on December 20, 2015, against the ongoing detention of Jewish youths in connection with the murder in July of three members of the Palestinian Dawabsha family. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Police officers arrested a right-wing activist during an illegal demonstration at the entrance to Jerusalem on Monday night against the prolonged detention of Jewish Israelis suspected of carrying out a fatal firebombing in a Palestinian village in the West Bank.

The July 31 attack killed three members of the Dawabsha family. Only one member of the family — four-year-old Ahmed — survived the attack, 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.

An unspecified number of Jewish suspects have been arrested in connection to the attack, as part of a Shin Bet investigation that is still largely under a strict gag order.

On Monday, dozens of right-wing protesters attempted to block the highway leading into the capital, but were prevented from doing so by law enforcement officers, a police spokesperson said.

“They tried to ruin the day-to-day lives of city residents, but a police unit operating on the scene prevented it, forcing the rioters onto the sidewalks and allowing the free movement of transportation,” the official said.

Only one suspect has been arrested for disturbing the peace so far, the police said in a statement. Rioters also punctured the tires of two police cruisers, the police said.

Violence broke out on Sunday night during a similar, but larger demonstration by right-wing activists in the same area, under Jerusalem’s Chords Bridge, to protest the ongoing incarceration of suspects in the case.

Six police officers were wounded by the attacks directed at them by a small minority of the protesters, a police statement said. One officer got left with a broken hand.

About 300 people in total took part in the Sunday demonstration, and police arrested six protesters for disturbing the peace.

Earlier Sunday, the Shin Bet security service announced another “development” in the Duma case, which is nearing six months without resolution. However, the agency stressed that the gag order on details about the case is still in place.

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 arson has been ruled a terror attack by authorities, leading Israel’s security cabinet to vote to extend to Israeli civilians several counterterrorism measures used in the West Bank against Palestinian terror suspects, including “administrative detention” without trial.

Under the rules of administrative detention, suspects believed to be directly involved in terror activity have the right to appeal their detention to the High Court of Justice, but do not receive a due-process trial in regular court.

The alleged Jewish extremists were detained by the Shin Bet in late November on suspicion of carrying out the attack. On Wednesday, their attorneys, who were allowed to meet with all but one suspect only after two weeks of detention — and only after appeals to the High Court — alleged that the detainees were tortured during their interrogations.

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)

Some 500 right-wing activists also demonstrated on Saturday night in Jerusalem — outside the home of Shin Bet chief Yoram Cohen — against the detentions and alleged torture. The carried signs that read, “We demand justice” and “Enough persecution by the [state] prosecution.”

In response to the accusations, officials with the Shin Bet said over the weekend that the agency’s actions were within the bounds of the legal mandate given to it by the cabinet.

The conditions of the suspects’ detention, including the denial of legal counsel for more than two weeks, were brought before the High Court of Justice last week and were approved, they noted.

“All the actions [of the Shin Bet] are carried out according to law and in keeping with judicial precedent,” the organization said in a statement, “and are subject to close oversight of higher authorities.”

Adiv Sterman and Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.

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