Israeli Judge Denies Police Request to Hold Arab Suspects Incommunicado

An Israeli magistrate declined Thursday to allow police to hold four Arab murder suspects incommunicado for two weeks while they continue their investigation into the savage killings of three sleeping Israel Defense Force recruits at a training camp last month.

The police made clear they want to prevent the suspects from consulting with lawyers until they complete their investigation, including a check for prior records of security offenses.

Their request was based on the Emergency Regulations of the British Mandate, retained by Israel, which allows security prisoners to be held up to 15 days at a time without benefit of counsel or formal charges filed against them.

The suspects have demanded consultation with their lawyers.

The magistrate, however, issued a one-day remand for two of them, Sa’id Jabarin, 40, and Yihya Agbariya, 25.

He said he would decide in 24 hours whether to grant or reject the police request.

Jabarin, the father of nine children who lives in Umm el-Fahm, Israel’s largest Arab town, was jailed in the past for security crimes and freed in the 1989 prisoner exchange.

He appears to be the toughest and most savvy of the suspects, exuding confidence and leadership.

The country was electrified by the police announcement Wednesday that the four were in custody, had confessed and re-enacted the crime committed during the night of Feb. 15.

Many were stunned by disclosure that they were Arab citizens of Israel, allegedly active in the Islamic fundamentalist movement, but legally entitled to the protection of Israeli law.

Two of the suspects are from Umm el-Fahm, in north-central Israel, and two from Musheirifa village, in the Wadi Ara region, near Afula.

An angry Jewish mob of about 100 gathered outside the Afula courthouse chanting “Death to the Arabs.”

As two of the suspects were brought in, the mob surged to attack them physically but was blocked by police. One policeman was struck in the head by a blow aimed at his prisoner.

The police have arrested three other Israeli Arabs believed to have been accessories to the crime. One is a woman, Zuheira Agbariya, wife of a murder suspect.

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