Government Allows Shin Bet to Use Force in Interrogations

A ministerial committee has granted Israel’s domestic security service a permit that allows the use of force during interrogations of suspected Islamic fundamentalist terrorists.

In a unanimous decision last week, the committee extended the permit for three months to the Shin Bet, which has been criticized frequently for its interrogation methods.

The permit allows the Shin Bet to continue using the controversial method of violently shaking detainees in an effort to get them to reveal terrorist plans.

The shaking method came under intense scrutiny after Abdel-Samad Harizat, 29, a suspected member of the Islamic fundamentalist Hamas movement, died after being interrogated in April in connection with a series of bomb attacks against Israel.

The committee’s decision came as the Shin Bet was sharply criticized by Attorney General Michael Ben-Yair for misleading Cabinet ministers in its efforts to win approval for the permit.

In an interview published last week, Ben-Yair said a video demonstration he had viewed of the shaking method “was completely different from what was outlined” by the Shin Bet.

“I am not willing to see every Palestinian youth with a black beard who is detained for questioning end up brain-damaged,” Ben-Yair added.

He was also critical of the Shin Bet for its handling of Hamas suspects who had been detained prior to the Aug. 21 suicide bus bombing in Jerusalem that killed four people and injured more than 100.

After the bombing, the head of the Shin Bet revealed that the planner of the bombing was in the agency’s custody two days before the blast.

But the Shin Bet head said government officials had tied the hands of interrogators with too many restrictions, preventing them from learning of the bombing in advance.

Ben-Yair, saying that the Shin Bet interrogators had all the means at their disposal for learning of the planned attack, blamed the failure to prevent the terror attack on poor judgment by the agency.

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