Attorney Itamar Ben-Gvir, representing one of the detainees suspected of setting fire to a house in the village of Duma where three family members perished, met on Tuesday morning his client after 21 days in which he was incarcerated without access to a lawyer—the maximum time allowed by Israeli law. Ben-Gvir demands to drop his client’s investigation, since he confessed only because of torture. At a press conference outside the Petakh Tikva Magistrate’s Court, Ben-Gvir said that Shabak interrogators managed to break his client after harassing him sexually, applying sleep deprivation for long periods of time, and assaulting his values. “The things my client said are meaningless, because a person in such a situation would confess whatever you want. I think that each Israeli citizens would have admitted the charges against him [under such duress] and I think this is the Shabak’s new Bus 300 affair,” he said.
In 1994, Shabak operatives gave false testimony in court on their involvement in the execution of two Arab bus hijackers, immediately after the hostage crisis they had initiated had ended and they were captured. The IDF censor imposed a gag order on coverage of the hijacking, but the information made it into the foreign press, and eventually to the Israeli media, creating a public uproar. In 1985 IDF General Yitzhak Mordechai was acquitted of charges related to the deaths of the captured hijackers. Later, it emerged that members of the Shabak had implicated the general, while concealing who gave the direct order that the prisoners be killed. In 1986, Attorney General Yitzhak Zamir resigned after he refused to call off an investigation into the Shabak’s role in the execution. Shortly thereafter, Head of Shabak Avraham Shalom resigned and was given a full Presidential pardon for unspecified crimes, while pardons were granted to many others ahead of the charges. Following the scandal, the Landau Commission was set up to investigate Shabak decision-making.
Ben-Gvir added: “I very much doubt whether you can use what [my client] said. They hit him and made him into a shadow of a person.”
Ben-Gvir said that “at some point four thugs entered his room who beat him up and tied him to a Sodom bed.” The term’s origin is Talmudic, illustrating the depravity of the people of Sodom, who would stretch the limbs of a short person to make his body fit the bed’s length, and in the case of a person who was too tall, cut off his legs.
Ben-Gvir claimed his client gave him “descriptions of torture instruments, horrific descriptions, appalling. They tied him up in reverse positions, then turned him over and dropped him again and again. At some point he yelled, ‘Leave me alone, I didn’t do anything.’ They told him in response, ‘If you don’t give us a confession we’ll continue.’ They were able to break him. In my opinion, I doubt very much that you could use what he said. They hit him. They made my client a shadow of a person.”
”I am ashamed of the State of Israel in 2015 this is the conduct of Shabak interrogators. I am ashamed of the fact that the State Prosecutor and the Attorney General supported it, I am ashamed of some of the judges who conformed to this terrible situation, who were indifferent and wouldn’t even order to bring him to court on those days of torture. My client needs a psychiatrist and medical care.”
The Shabak said in response to similar claims made last week that “the Shabak is a national organization and all its activities are performed in accordance with law. Shabak interrogations are conducted in accordance with the law and case-law, and are overseen by the Attorney General, the State Attorney’s Office and the courts.