Claims Shin Bet tortured Jewish terror suspects must be investigated, cabinet member says


(JTA) — Israel’s Agriculture Minister has called on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to investigate claims that the Shin Bet security agency tortured the Jewish suspects in last summer’s lethal firebombing of a Palestinian home.

Uri Ariel of the Jewish Home party on Friday urged Netanyahu to convene a committee meeting to address the claims, the Times of Israel reported. The suspects are being held without formal charges in administrative detention, a practice generally limited to terror cases.

Ariel said accounts by the suspects’ lawyers are “chilling and raise a suspicion that severe physical torture took place.”

The July 31 firebombing in the Palestinian village of Duma killed an 18-month-old boy and his parents. The one surviving member of the family, a 4-year-old boy, is still undergoing treatment in an Israeli hospital.

A list of the tactics used during interrogation that was provided by Deputy Attorney General Raz Nizri, does not include torture.

The Association for Civil Rights in Israel, better known for its advocacy on behalf of Palestinians, posted on Twitter that the attorneys’ repot “raises heavy suspicion that illegal methods of interrogation were employed, such as resorting to physical force.”

Earlier this week B’Tselem, another NGO known for its defense of Palestinian human rights, also spoke out on behalf of the Jewish detainees, saying they should be allowed to meet with their lawyers.

It is not clear how many suspects have been detained for alleged involvement in the terror attack. According to Haaretz, at least four of the detained are citizens not just of Israel but of English-speaking countries. One has Australian citizenship, while the other three have U.S. citizenship.

On Thursday, the suspects’ attorneys accused the Shin Bet of “outrageous physical violence” against their clients and of “allowing themselves to abuse and strike the youths.”

The Shin Bet responded in a statement that the suspects were not tortured, but rather were “interrogated in an intensive way with regards to the suspicions against them.”

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