A coalition of Israelis and Americans has launched a campaign to generate political pressure on Israel’s government and judiciary to release Amiram Ben-Uliel who has been sentenced to more than three life terms based on confessions he gave under torture.
Ben Uliel was convicted of a lethal arson attack that killed three Arabs in their home in the Samaria Arab village of Duma on July 31, 2015.
Campaign organizers are urging Americans to contact their members of Congress to seek from the Israeli authorities a clarification of the conviction and sentencing of Ben-Uliel. They say the Israeli Supreme Court established a dangerous precedence when it accepted the admissibility of confessions that had been elicited from the accused under torture. The same district court that convicted Ben Uliel after rebuking the clandestine Shin Bet agency for using torture, also released another suspect in the case, an anonymous minor who is an American citizen.
“The Supreme Court ruling that essentially legalizes torture is a game-changer for Israel as a bastion of democracy and human rights,” said Gila Slonim, who mobilized the lobbying campaign on behalf of Ben-Uliel. “We would rather deal with the issue there, but the sad fact is that in Israel we have no voice.”
Three Zoom meetings have been held over the past three weeks, in which participants were told how to approach their House and Senate representatives about the case. So far, a large number of members of Congress have been reached and urged to inquire with Israeli officials about the conviction under torture.
The Zoom sessions included briefings by prominent jurists in Israel and the United States, including attorney Avigdor Feldman, who is famous for defending Arabs terrorists. Feldman agreed to take on the appeal, together with former Deputy State Attorney Yehoshua Resnic, because of the clear aberration of human rights.
“For the first time, I saw an organized listing of torture methods – how long each method was employed on the body of the one being interrogated, how many times each procedure was repeated, and the various auxiliary aids that were designed to produce visceral pain,” Feldman said.
The campaign is supported by the Israeli legal aid society Honenu, whose attorneys defended Ben-Uliel in court.
“We have pursued, and continue to pursue, all legal avenues,” said Honenu director Shmuel Meidad. “We believe that a decision was made to convict Ben Uliel regardless of the facts. This is frightening and unacceptable in a democratic country. We must therefore turn to all sources so that justice is done and Ben-Uliel is released and acquitted of a crime he did not commit.”