Israeli Court Extends Remand of Minors Suspected of 'Jewish Terror Plot'

'Terror is terror, whether it comes from Arabs or Jews,' state prosecutor says as demonstrators protest detention of minors involved in case shrouded by gag order

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Protesters rallying outside the court to demonstrate against arrest of minors, December 31, 2018.
Protesters rallying outside the court to demonstrate against arrest of minors, December 31, 2018.Credit: Meged Gozani

An Israeli court on Monday extended the remand of three Jewish minors who were arrested Sunday on suspicion of involvement in a Jewish terror plot for six days.

A gag order prohibits the publication of any details concerning the investigation or the suspects.

The three have not been permitted so far to consult with an attorney. The Lod District Court rejected an appeal filed by the suspects' lawyers against the decision to prevent them from meeting with their clients. One of the attorneys is extreme right-wing activist Itamar Ben Gvir.

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During the hearing in the Rishon Lezion Magistrate’s Court, which was held behind closed doors, some 20 right-wing activists protested outside the courthouse. They tried to block roads in the area, but were turned away by security forces.

State Prosecutor Shai Nitzan addressed the incident Monday while speaking at a conference held by the daily Israeli economic newspaper Calcalist. "Terror is terror. Whether it comes from Arabs or Jews," Nitzan said.

"There is only one way to treat terror. It must be fought with all legal means... We, on our side, take the necessary steps to ensure that in the fight against terror, only legal and reasonable means will be used, and as part of that we oversee actions by security forces and look into every complaint that is filed against them," the state prosecutor added.

A statement by the NGO Honenu, which provides legal aid to Jewish terror suspects, said that one of the suspects was detained Sunday by Shin Bet and and the Israel Police's special patrol unit.

"The Shin Bet and the prosecution are not internalizing the conclusions of recent security investigations and the criticism that is aimed at them, and are trying only in violent and inadmissible ways to extract confessions from teens," one of the suspects' attorneys said.

"Just last week Uvda [an Israeli investigative television show] exposed horrible, terrifying recordings in which policemen can be heard abusing a minor, hurting him, starving him, threatening him and severely manipulating him in order to extract a confession," Ben Gvir said Sunday.

The Shin Bet came under fire in 2015 for using controverisal methods to interview suspects while the media covered the interrogations surrounding the arson murder of an Arab family in the West Bank village of Douma.

The suspect and the minor who was indicted alongside him both claimed that they were abused during that interrogation. As a result, multiple protests ensued throughout the country.

The interrogators in the Douma case admitted that there was torture, but denied allegations that they "sexually harrassed and spat" at the suspects.

Sources familiar with the interrogation said that the attorney general at the time, Yehuda Weinstein, allowed the use of torture in the probe.

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