Israeli Settler Suspected of anti-Arab Crimes Prevented From Meeting Lawyer

Investigation's details under gag order. Last week, Haaretz reported drop in hate crimes against Palestinians due to harsh Shin Bet tactics.

ILLUSTRATION PHOTO: Right wing activists arrested.
Tomer Appelbaum

Israeli security forces arrested Thursday an 18-year-old from a West Bank settlement on suspicion he was involved in anti-Arab crime. A court extended his detention by a week. A gag ordered was imposed on details of the investigation and the identity of the suspect. Police are barring the suspect from consulting with a lawyer, and his detention was extended without legal representation.

 “Once again we are faced with an order that blocks a prisoner from seeing a lawyer,” said Attorney Adi Keidar, who represents the detainee on behalf of the Honenu organization, a nonprofit providing legal aid to Jews suspected of violent attacks against Palestinians.

“This is an undemocratic order whose use has become routine, even when we’re talking about offenses that don’t justify their use. From past experience, the rights of prisoners forbidden to meet with lawyers were violated, and use was made of illegal means and interrogation methods ... all to get confessions at any price, and not out of a desire for a real investigation that gets to the truth.”

During the investigation into the arson-murder of the Dawabsheh family in the Palestinian village of Duma, security forces prevented suspected from meeting with lawyers and started using so-called administrative detentions.

As published by Haaretz last week, the number of hate crimes by Jews against Palestinians has plummeted since the arrest of suspects and the increased administrative detention of Jews, according to police and Shin Bet security service statistics.

Rapid rise in administrative orders, decline in hate crimes.
Infographic by Haaretz

According to Israeli law, the head of a Shin Bet unit can prevent an arrested suspected from meeting a lawyer for up to 10 days. After those 10 days, the Shin Bet can request an extension from a District Court for a period no longer than 21 days in all.

Since the arson murder in Duma last December, dozens of settlers have been forbidden from entering the West Bank in the intervening period and the number of administrative detentions of Jews has tripled.

There have been three hate crimes by Jews since the Duma incident, according to the Shin Bet, only one of them in 2016. By contrast, there were 14 such crimes in 2015 before the Duma incident. There were 16 serious hate crimes in 2014, 25 in 2013 and 18 in 2012.

The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, which tracks both political and non-political acts, concurs that the number of violent attacks by Jews against Palestinians has declined drastically in the past two years. The OCHA registered 323 such attacks, 107 of which resulted in injuries, in 2014. That figure dropped to 227 attacks, 97 of which involved people getting injured, in 2015. The respective numbers for 2016 so far have fallen to 58 and 21.