Netanyahu Defends Shin Bet Amid Torture Allegations

Security agency conducting interrogations according to legal procedures, prime minister says after claims by lawyers of detained Jewish suspects.

Barak Ravid
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A relative holds up a photo of Ali Dawabsheh in the torched house in Duma, July 31, 2015.
A relative holds up a photo of Ali Dawabsheh in the torched house in Duma, July 31, 2015.Credit: AP
Barak Ravid

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu defended the Shin Bet on Monday in light of recent claims that the security agency used torture during the interrogations of Jewish right-wing activists suspected in an arson attack in the West Bank village of Duma.

Netanyahu, who spoke at a weekly Likud faction meeting, said Shin Bet investigators have not participated in any deviation from procedure.

The issue was raised by MK Miki Zohar (Likud), who told Netanyahu: "there is testimony that the Shin Bet is torturing Jewish administrative detainees. Check what's happening."

Netanyahu responded that he couldn't divulge details of the investigation, but defended Shin Bet investigators, saying: "I want to make one thing clear: All investigations are performed in accordance with the law, under the observance of the attorney general and the courts... in contrast to the claims, no one is breaking the rules enforced by the justice system."

The prime minister also stressed that the ethnic identity of suspects makes no difference in Shin Bet conduct.

Netanyahu at the Likud faction meeting, December 21, 2015.
Netanyahu at the Likud faction meeting, December 21, 2015.Credit: Olivier Fitoussi

"They law is the same for Jews, Arabs, Christians and Circassians. We must not deviate from this," said Netanyahu. "I'm not only talking about the instance in Duma, but I cannot go into any more detail."

One of the suspects in the case detailed the alleged torture in court Sunday. "They turn me upside down until my hands start burning – it feels like they are burning me with a lighter. They are taking me apart, bending my whole back, laughing and looking at me with contempt," he told the court.

The suspect's claims in court came two days after his lawyer, along with the lawyers of two other Jewish suspects in the same case, claimed publically that investigators were torturing their clients during questioning.

"He has been deprived of sleep and they tied his arms behind his back and pulled on them until he vomited," said Adi Kedar of the Honenu organization said of one of the suspects.

The three have been held in administrative detention (detention without trial) since early November and saw their lawyers for the first time last Wednesday.

They have yet to be publically identified, but stand accused of fire-bombing a Palestinian house in Duma, killing three members of the Dawabsheh family.

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