Family of American-Israeli Jew supports his claims of torture


(JTA) — The family of the American-Israeli Jewish teenager who claims he was tortured by Israel in detention supported his claims to the Forward, which identified him as Elisha Odess.

In the article published Wednesday, Odess’ grandmother, Blumi Odess of New York, said Elisha Odess has been held in administrative detention since Nov. 25 and was abused by the Shin Bet security service.

Under administrative detention, which is often used in terror cases, but usually for Palestinians, a suspect can be held without charge for six months, and the order can be renewed indefinitely by an Israeli court.

Odess, from the West Bank settlement of Tzufim, is among a number of Jews suspected of involvement in the deadly firebombing of a Palestinian home in the West Bank town of Duma in July. The firebombing killed three members of the Dawabshe family — 18-month-old Ali Saad, and his parents, Saad and Reham. (The Dawabshes’ then-4-year-old son was seriously injured in the attack.)

The suspects’ names are under gag order in Israel.

On Monday, a detained teen identified by the Forward as Odess told a judge during a closed hearing in Petach Tikvah Magistrate’s Court that the torture was so bad that he tried to commit suicide in prison.

Family members said Odess was not allowed to see an attorney for weeks. They said his parents were permitted one visit, on Dec. 17.

Odess’ aunt, Ilana Odess of New York, told the Forward that American consular officials were turned away when they attempted to visit him. The State Department would not comment to the Forward on the case, citing privacy issues.

On Sunday, the judge ordered that Odess’ remand be extended. Indictments in the case are expected to be filed this week, according to reports.

READ: At least one Jewish suspect in Israeli administrative detention has U.S. citizenship

The Shin Bet has denied the torture allegations and said its investigations “are conducted in accordance with the law.” It said the claim that one of the Jewish detainees attempted suicide is “baseless,” according to Haaretz.

According to Haaretz, which did not name the teen, Odess told the judge, “Every day it goes up a level … I didn’t sleep last night and I won’t sleep tonight either, unless something changes. “They are violently questioning me about something I can’t help them with because I don’t know. They are taking me apart, bending my whole back, laughing and looking at me with contempt. The hell with it, what am I supposed to do?

“They yell at me, ‘Murderer, murderer!’ Where can I run? Where is their doubt that maybe I’m actually right? This is the worst injustice the State of Israel can do to a person.”

Other alleged Jewish extremists with dual citizenship being held under administrative detention by the Shin Bet since the Duma attack include another U.S.-Israeli citizen, Mordechai Meyer, 18, and an Australian-Israeli, Evyatar Slonim, 23, also of Tzufim.

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