Three Minors Arrested in Connection to 'Jewish Terror Plot'

Gag order prevents publication of any details concerning the investigation or the suspects' identity ■ 'Shin Bet and state attorney try to secure confessions from teenagers in violent, unacceptable ways,' says attorney

A man in cuffs, illustration
Michal Fattal

Three Jewish minors were arrested Sunday over suspected involvement in a terrorism case. A gag order prevents the publication of any details concerning the investigation, led by the Shin Bet and the Israel Police's Judea and Samaria District in the West Bank, or the suspects' identity.

Honenu, an Israeli nonprofit organization that provides legal aid to Jewish terror suspects, said two of the suspects were arrested during a search in an undisclosed location.

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A third suspect was arrested later on Sunday at a different location.

"The Shin Bet and the state attorney fail to comprehend the message from recent security investigations and from the criticism of them, and try to secure confessions from teenagers only in violent, unacceptable ways," attorney Adi Kedar said.

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Far-right activist Itamar Ben Gvir said the family of one of the suspects has contacted him for legal advice. "Just this week [Investigative TV show] 'Uvda' uncovered horrible recordings of policemen abusing a minor, hurting him, starving him, threatening him and seriously manipulating him in order to secure a confession."

Shin Bet's harsh methods made headlines in December 2015, when defendants in an arson murder of three members of a Palestinian family in the West Bank claimed to have been tortured. Their claims led to protests in Israel, following which interrogators confirmed some of the claims.

The High Court of Justice restricted in 1999 the use of violent interrogation methods, but ruled that an interrogator who used violence could claim after the fact that there was an “urgent need” to violate the law. 

However, the court rejected in November a petition by Palestinian Fares Tbeish, who claimed to have been tortured in a Shin Bet interrogation. The ruling, which could make it easier for investigators to use harsh interrogation tactics against Palestinians, said the "special methods" applied in his interrogation were legitimate.

Tbeish, a 40-year-old resident of the West Bank, was arrested in 2011 on suspicion of membership in Hamas and arms dealing. He was kept in administrative detention, or arrest without trial, for a year. Investigators believed he knew the location of an arms cache containing at least 10 weapons, including rifles, and allegedely tortured him in order for him to disclose it.