Settlers Claim Abusive Treatment of Detainees Suspected of Extremism

Five Jewish settlers have been arrested in recent days as suspected members of new violent Jewish underground.

The arrests, originally shrouded in secrecy, have sparked widespread protest by other settlers.

The demonstrators charge that those detained for their suspected involvement in planning and carrying out violent attacks on Arabs are receiving abusive treatment.

The settlers claim the men are being tortured and denied legal access and that their families are not being informed of their whereabouts.

Over the weekend, hundreds of residents of Kiryat Arba protested the alleged torture of Israel Defense Force Lt. Oren Edri, one of the five detainees.

Knesset Member Zevulun Hammer of the National Religious Party has called for an inquiry into the conditions under which Edri and other suspects are being held and interrogated.

The General Security Services has denied the charge that the suspects have been tortured.

For his part, Environment Minister Yossi Sarid, a member of the ministerial committee on General Security Services affairs, said there was absolutely no basis to the charges the detainees were being tortured or abused in any way.

“I can say clearly and even officially,” he said, “that the investigations are being carried out according to all rules, laws, methods, and I can see no problem.”

SAID TO HAVE SUPPLIED IDF ARMS FOR ATTACKS

Nonetheless, he pledged that complaints would be investigated.

Edri, arrested Sept. 2, reportedly was interrogated about the December slaying of three Arabs from a village near Hebron and about the fatal shooting in July of an Arab taxi driver in Jerusalem.

Edri is known to be connected with the Keren Yosef Yeshiva in the West Bank town of Nablus, and is understood to have been supplying activists there with IDF arms and helping them plan attacks on Arabs.

The head of the Keren Yosef Yeshiva, Rabbi Yitzhak Ginsberg, is reportedly under investigation for praising the actions of Dr. Baruch Goldstein, the Kiryat Arba settler who murdered 29 Muslim worshipers on Feb. 25 at the Tomb of the Patriarchs. Ginsberg reportedly described the act as a mitzvah, or religious good deed, and said that the Arabs deserved to die.

The Haifa District Court last Friday rejected Edri’s appeal against his continued detention.

The other detainees include two brothers from Kiryat Arba, Eitan and Yehoyada Kahalani, who have been detained for nine days and are suspected of extreme right-wing activity. They were arrested in the Tel Aviv area and on Sunday reportedly were still not being permitted to speak with their attorneys or families.

Two other suspects, Elyashiv Keller of Hebron, and Rabbi Ido Elba of Kiryat Arba, have been remanded for nine and 10 days respectively.

Meanwhile, two activists from the Kach Party, founded by the late Rabbi Meir Kahane, have been released from administrative detention. They were imprisoned following the banning of the Kach Party and other extremist organizations in the wake of the Hebron massacre.

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