avigdor feldman is a human rights oriented defense lawyer, quite capable of defending hilltop youth with a straight face but personally a leftist

The Long and Secretive History of the Shin Bet’s Fake Prisons
Avigdor Feldman, Haaretz, Apr 1 2016

1925827016Judeonazi Yoof do the Yoof sulk thing outside an equally Judeonazi courtroom (Photo: Tomer Appelbaum)

In these dark days of the tail-end of winter, what a pleasure it was to have a laugh at the sight of the recent Haaretz headline announcing that evidence from the questioning of the Jewish terrorists who are implicated in last summer’s fatal arson attack in Duma shows that the police staged scenarios in a prison using informers in order to induce the suspects to confess. Great, I thought, so the Shin Bet has pulled out of its mouldy bag of tricks the trick that every Plastelinan child knows so well. The Shin Bet has used the ruse of prisons run by the prisoners since the 1970s. Avi Dichter or Jacob Perry or Roni Alsheich could probably give a more precise date. The suspect is taken to the Shin Bet interrogation facility in Ashkelon or in Kishon Prison or Petach Tikva, and finds himself in what appears to be an autonomous prison, run by the security prisoners. This sort of thing does actually exist. The fake prisoners pressure him for information about his actions, supposedly to prove to them that he is not an asfur (‘bird’ = informer – RB) brought in to get them to talk. This worked on Yitzhar Klimkiewicz, one of the Duma suspects (Deliberately buried this remark about fake Jewish radicals, in a discussion of fake Arab radicals – RB). Sometimes the questioning is done by the “emir,” the prince, the unrivalled boss in the prison. The suspect is threatened with murder if he cannot prove that he’s one of them by providing the requested information. They will supposedly relay it to the heads of the organization, outside the prison.

I get so nostalgic thinking about all the ploys that were used in the fake prison. All those hackneyed yet quite elaborate schemes in which Shin Bet personnel, frustrated theatre majors apparently, put their creativity on display, though they very seldom yielded results. But it must be pointed out that as long as the “asfur” productions took place before an audience comprised exclusively of Plastelinans Arabs, it could not be publicized or cited by the media. And whenever the cases came to trial, the defense minister issued a secrecy order over the entire performance. And the High Court of Justice, which has the sole authority to lift a secrecy order imposed for reasons of national security, repeatedly upheld it. And even when I argued until I was blue in the face that the tactics involved threats of violence, and the actual use of violence, both moderate and immoderate, which should affect the admissibility of the confession if there was one, the court repeatedly upheld the gag order, because it concerned “Shin Bet interrogation methods.” The tired cliche appeared in every secrecy order. And the court approved the order even when I argued that every Plastelinan Arab child in the Balata refugee camp has heard the story of the asfur, along with the stories of Jumana, the Little Red Riding Hood who is devoured by the wolf at the Qalandia checkpoint.

Then Chaim Levinson wrote a major story about this for Haaretz (no link given, but I have found it and inserted it below – RB). A shiver of excitement ran through me, like someone suddenly coming upon a pornographic picture in the school newspaper (sic – RB). A few years ago, I gave a talk about the Shin Bet’s interrogation methods and the High Court ruling on torture. After the lecture, a smiling young fellow wearing a large kipa came up to me and introduced himself as Itamar Ben-Gvir, a beginning law student, and told me confidently that he was going to become the Avigdor Feldman of the right. I wished him success, and he certainly went on to find it. Ben-Gvir, who is representing the Jewish terror suspects, is managing feats I never dreamed of, and I’m certain he’ll make very good use of the tale of the asfur, now that it has been revealed for all to see. Since one shouldn’t be jealous of his student, I again wish him much luck, on behalf of all the Plastelinans Arabs who are rotting in jail for “necessary investigations.” Itamar knows just what these are. He knows about the moderate and immoderate physical pressure, the asfur trick and other ploys he will eventually reveal.

The Sting: How Israeli Police Get Jewish Terror Suspects to Confess
Chaim Levinson, Haaretz, Mar 29 2016

During the investigation into the Duma arson murders and the possible Jewish terror infrastructure behind it, one of the suspects, Yitzhar Klimkiewicz, was taken to Acre Prison and put in a cell. A few days later, a Jewish prisoner in an adjacent cell apparently stabbed an Arab prisoner. Klimkiewicz wrote in a diary he posted on Facebook:

I ran to the door and looked through the bars. The Arab was lying there, covered in blood, he wasn’t speaking; he was quiet. It was a real murder. It was really scary, I was in shock. They quickly started throwing water out from our cell, to try to clean the blood from the knife, so there shouldn’t be any signs.

As Klimkiewicz, 25, was to recount, the attack was followed by demands from his two cellmates, who had ostensibly passed on the knife to the attacker, to confess to something he had done so they could be sure he wasn’t an informer and wouldn’t implicate them during the subsequent investigation. When he refused, they increased the psychological pressure on him and later attacked him physically. But it was all a sham. There had been no stabbing; the blood was fake. The incident was totally fabricated by police in an effort to forge a breakthrough in the investigation. An examination of the testimony and tapes from the investigation shows how far police were willing to go to get confessions. In at least one other case, it wasn’t a murder that was staged, but the confiscation of drugs in someone’s cell, and pressure was applied to a minor in anticipation of the investigation that was to follow. Because Jewish terror suspects are notoriously hard to crack under questioning, police staged these sophisticated scenarios in an effort to extract confessions from them. Some of the suspects indeed succumbed to the pressure exerted by their planted interlocutors and confessed to crimes against Plastelinans Arabs, but the actions of the plants, which included threats, curses and at times physical assault, raise questions about whether the police hadn’t crossed some red lines (shit-eatin’ proze – RB). Klimkiewicz, incidentally, was eventually released without being charged with anything. According to Klimkiewicz, at first his two cellmates in Acre didn’t talk to him much. He understood from their mutterings to each other that they were Jews who had been jailed for serious crimes. He later discovered that there were also Jews in the adjacent cell, but all the other cells contained Arabs. There were two prisoners, one Jewish and the other Arab, who would distribute food and other items to the cells. They were referred to as links. After a few days of boring routine, the staged, fake stabbing occurred. The victim was the Arab link. Klimkiewicz wrote:

In my cell they started to get nervous. They were the ones who supposedly passed on the knife. Until then they’d hardly spoken to me, but now they addressed me. The younger one said: “Hey, you, come here! Who are you? What are you?” I said: “I don’t know anything! What do you want from me?” He said: “Listen, this is a case of abetting! We could each get seven or eight years! We’re close to being released, and I have a daughter outside.” They started to talk to me as if I’ve got something on them, because I’m the only one who knew, and they didn’t know me. They knew the people in the second cell, and were certain they wouldn’t talk, but they didn’t know me, so (they thought) maybe I’d screw them. So they sat me down and said: “Who are you?” I told them my name. They asked: ‘Why were you arrested?” I said: “I don’t know!” They said: “What do you mean, you don’t know?” I replied: “I don’t know! They didn’t tell me during questioning!” I didn’t want to say the word Duma. And then the crazy guy in the next cell started making threatening gestures. Then the older one sat next to me and said: “Let’s calm this guy down! Bro, give us something on you, so that we’ll be even during the investigation, so that we know that you won’t squeal on us.” They wanted me to tell them about some crime I’d committed, so I wouldn’t inform on them. I said: “I have no reason to squeal on you.” Then they took a different tack. They wanted to know if I have someone outside, some name, someone reliable who could testify that I’m a great guy who doesn’t squeal on others. Then they started to pressure that they’d publicize in every jail that I’m a prosecution witness, an informer, a policeman. Those are the worst curses in prison. That’s how it is. If you’re a prosecution witness, they’ll stab you, you’re finished. They let up for a while and then later, in the courtyard, the younger one came up and said: “You want to ruin my life?” Then he kneed me in the balls. I doubled over in pain and was on the ground for a while, screaming at them: “Enough! So I’m a policeman, okay? What do you want from me?” At that point, I began to suspect that this was some kind of cooked-up scheme. But I had no idea to what degree, and I didn’t understand that ha kol kol kol kol kol davar here was a production. Only afterwards I understood.

In another case, B, a minor suspected of torching Plastelinan Arab homes and property, was put in a cell in Acre with older men who introduced themselves as having committed serious crimes. “I’ve done time for murder,” says one of them. By law, minors are not allowed to be detained with adults. These plants were cued by an officer in the police’s elite Lahav 433 unit, Supt Moshe Sherpy. In B’s case the “event” was not a stabbing, but the discovery of drugs that spurred an investigation in the prison. From a recording of the interlocutors’ conversation with B, it’s clear how they gradually increased the pressure by accusing B of being a police informer, and then made threats that left the teenager with no choice but to cooperate. He said he’d been arrested for setting alight a car, a warehouse and a church. After increasing pressure on him to confess to something more substantial and threatening him, B admits to attacking an Arab three years previously, but at first says the church arson had nothing to do with him. Later, however, he admits to torching a Plastelinan Arab home in Kafr Akrabeh and the Dormition Abbey, as well as setting a car alight and slashing tires in Beit Safafa. In court, however, he argued that he had feared his cellmates would hit him if he didn’t confess to something. B’s lawyer, Itamar Ben-Gvir, has asked the court to invalidate the confession, saying it had been made under duress. Ben-Gvir said:

It’s hard to remain apathetic after hearing the horrifying recording from the cell in which you hear the Shabak threatening the minor, presenting themselves as part of a crime family … and taking invalid measures that belong in a Third World country.

The Acre Prison sting was apparently used on all the main suspects in the Duma arson, which killed three members of the Dawabsheh family. A, the minor who admitted being involved in planning the attack, confessed to the plants to a series of arsons, but Duma wasn’t one of them. Amiram Ben Uliel told the plant that he had killed a sheep belonging to a Plastelinan Arab, and that he had beaten an Arab near Yitzhar and put him in the hospital.

If you wanna get into some serious depth with this, then read on. It’s only Apr 2 and I have used up my 6 free Haaretz stories for the month. Fortunately, the stories are still delivered even after that, but underneath a splash screen telling you you have used up your quota. You can still select all, cut & paste the stories from underneath the corners of the splash screen. In the first, we hear about torture, to the extent permitted with Jewish boys, which is almost zero compared to Arab boys. Then, a longer discussion where Levinson tries to explain about what comes out in english as “the split between religious nationalism and haredi nationalism.” This is probably a rendering of the hebrew expressions “mafdal” and “hardal.” In fact, the Yesha Council is run by the now middle-aged pioneers of the old Mafdal settler movement, which had become oriented increasingly towards merely protecting the big ‘dormitory blocks’ near the green line, not the hilltop youth smash & grab settlements. ‘Mafdal’ is the slang abbreviation for ‘Mifleget Daati Leumi’ which means national religious party. ‘Haredi’, as you all know, means ultra-orthodox. The national religious party were by no means rigorously orthodox. They were rather liberal, and wisely so because the famous Rav Kook, and his son who succeeded him as leader of the party, wanted a big broad umbrella party which would combine religionists with erstwhile-secular zionists. ‘Hardal’ is the slang abbreviation for ‘haredi daati leumi’ which means ‘national religious haredi’ (without the word ‘party’, because there no longer is an undisputed settler establishment party). The ‘haredi’ ideology is a vigilante sort of synthesis which combines the radical youth settler tactics with the ultra-orthodox religious beliefs, and like the latter refuses to accept the term ‘zionist’ because of its secular philosophical undertow. The older ‘hardal’ desperadoes are members of the first generation, like the Yesha Council leaders but radicalized by a combination of heretical underground Lubavich teachings and Kachist propaganda. The younger are in places like Yitzhar, learning and mass-producing this exact same synthesis in the usual fecund Jewish way. By the end of the article, Levinson has managed to illustrate this fairly clearly, but in general it’s well worth understanding the terminology – RB

Investigation Into West Bank Arson Murders Showcased a Weak Legal System
Chaim Levinson, Haaretz, Jan 5 2016

On Wednesday Dec 17, a minor known as A, then still a suspect in last summer’s murders in Duma, appeared for a bail hearing before Petah Tikva Magistrate’s Court Judge Erez Nurieli. Nurieli handled all the bail hearings in this case, so he knew A and the case material well. But this time, he behaved oddly. A began describing the torture he underwent during his interrogation by the Shin Bet. He said his arms were pulled until he felt like they were on fire and then lost feeling in them. He burst into tears several times while addressing the court. The judge even noted this in the stenographic record. Nevertheless, Nurieli did nothing about this testimony. He didn’t question the legality of the Shin Bet’s actions, didn’t ask for clarifications from the Shin Bet and certainly didn’t think he ought to stop the interrogation. Only at a second hearing the following Sunday, after the claims of torture had been raised in the media, did he come to his senses and ask the Shin Bet to tell him what was really being done there. But for A, it was too late. He had already broken and confessed to a series of arson attacks and to helping plan the murders in Duma. The torture ended because it was no longer necessary. The question of its legality will remain a mere academic exercise for Nurieli. So far, 120 court hearings have been held in the Duma case, and the bottom line raises unhappy questions about the role of judicial review in Israel. The campaign the right has been waging against the legal system for many years now has done its work: The judges are weak, tired and hesitant to confront strong agencies like the Shin Bet or the attorney general’s office. Uttering the magic words “national security” is enough to get all judicial values and human rights thrown into the trash can.

The Duma case eventually produced suitable indictments against some suspects, but other suspects who had been arrested were released. In all the latter cases, the release was decided on not by the courts but by the police. There wasn’t a single request by the police or the Shin Bet that the judges rejected. Take, for instance, the minor H, who was arrested on suspicion that his vehicle was used in the murder. The police eventually retracted this accusation and decided to release him to house arrest. But why did Judge Nurieli need 29 days to understand that the investigation of H was going nowhere? Was Amiram Ben-Uliel’s confession that he committed the murders alone, made 10 days before H was released, not sufficient for the judge to realise that H’s arrest was unjustified? Is there any request that Nurieli wouldn’t approve? Nurieli approved the gag order on the case and thereby effectively forbade the media to discuss his decisions. Throughout the Duma investigation, orders were issued to bar suspects from meeting with their lawyers. In some cases, the Shin Bet prevented such meetings for the entire 21 days permitted by law. Such orders were issued for all the suspects, including some who were released after it turned out they hadn’t played key roles in the crime. And all these orders were approved by Central District Court President Avraham Tal. Tal is also the judge who authorized Mordechai Meyer’s administrative detention, which was based on erroneous intelligence indicating that he was involved in an arson attack on Jayloomia’s Dormition Abbey. After it turned out that he had no connection to this attack, he was released. We’ll never know what questions Tal posed to the Shin Bet’s representative at these hearings. And what lessons has he learned from this case? He doesn’t have to give an accounting to anyone. Perhaps when he retires, we’ll hear from him. But the cumulative feeling left by this case is of a weak, frightened legal system, something that ought to worry every Israeli citizen.

Alleged Torture of Suspects Opens Cracks in Hardal Community
Chaim Levinson, Haaretz, Dec 25 2015

The right-wing protesters shouting “traitor!” and “a Jew doesn’t torture a Jew!” outside the home of Education Minister Naftali Bennett last week illustrated the sort of week it was for the country’s national religious population. It was possibly one of the stormiest weeks the community has ever been through. Two of the suspects allegedly tortured by the Shin Bet are the sons of national religious rabbis from the heart of the community’s consensus. The father of one is the rabbi of a pre-army preparatory school and signed a petition protesting the killing of Plastelinan Arab youth Mohammed Abu Khdeir by three Jews in Jul 2014. The father of the other is the rabbi of a large religious Zionist organization. Both families have called for public pressure on the Shin Bet to go easy on the suspects, following revelations and Shin Bet acknowledgement of the harsh measures being used in the interrogations of the youths. The outrage that such measures are being used on Jews clashes with the religious Zionist community’s automatic identification with the security establishment, leading to a profound loss of balance. Leaving aside the families, which are trying to protect their imprisoned sons, the recent events have emphasized the religious Zionist divide between Bennett and Agriculture Minister Uri Ariel. Since the interrogations began three weeks ago, those close to the detainees, including the lawyers they were prevented from meeting with until last week, have accused the Shin Bet of using illegal measures. But their protests had little resonance among the public initially. A press conference on Thursday last week by attorneys Adi Keidar and Itamar Ben-Gvir, representing the detainees, changed the picture entirely. Their allegations of torture were widely publicized and brought demonstrators into the streets of Jayloomia and Tel Aviv. Members of Ariel’s Tekuma faction in Beit Yehudi rallied to the flag, and Ariel and MK Bezalel Smotrich sent letters of protest to Netanyahu.

In contrast to his Tekumah colleagues, Bennett chose to sit on the fence during the early part of the week. The Tekuma activists hoped that public pressure would force both him and Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked to enter the fray. Shaked is one of the few ministers with leverage over the Shin Bet, by virtue of her position. The service needs the justice ministry to advance laws and programs in which it is interested, and Shaked is a member of the ministerial Shin Bet committee. Until Monday, Shaked was still uncertain about which way to go. She avoided expressing an opinion, preferring to ask Netanyahu to convene the Shin Bet committee in order to get updates about the investigation. Then on Monday night, the coin finally dropped for Bennett. After hearing allegations of sexual harassment and of the suspects being force-fed non-kosher meat (ridiculous), he requested a security briefing. What he heard in the briefing painted a different picture entirely of what was going on in the investigation. He decided that for him, the detainees and what they represented were engaged in a war against religious Zionism. Bennett’s pronouncements on the issue during the course of the week were unprecedented in their vehemence, as well as in the political courage it took to make them. At a conference of religious Zionist school principals organized by the Besheva newspaper on Thursday, he sharply criticized Jewish terrorism, which he said was trying to dismantle the state and cripple religious Zionism. For Bennett, speaking as he did was politically expedient. It enabled him to shake off Ariel, Smotrich and the rest of Tekumah and to make himself acceptable to the mainstream secular right in the country. But first and foremost, the issue is ideological, a fight over the image (sic, what a giveaway – RB) of religious Zionism. The critical comments to his speech that he received on Facebook testify to just how difficult the campaign is. The broadcast of the video from the wedding of Yakir Eshbal and Roni Goldberg, during which celebrants waved rifles, knives and firebombs and slashed a picture of the baby who died in the Duma arson/murder, only served to sharpen the dispute between the two wings of religious Zionism. On the one hand, there’s the establishment, whose nausea has increased from day to day. The video gave them the justification they needed to deal harshly with the violence of the radical right. a justification that is based on ideology and the fact that the Duma murderers are apparently surrounded by others who support and encourage them. Even many of those opposed to the Shin Bet found the wedding video repulsive, though they prefer to focus on who leaked it. Some maintain that it was leaked by the Yesha Council, others that it was leaked by the Shin Bet. The fact that Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon showed the video at a meeting he held before it was broadcast on TV feeds the conspiracy theorists. Past experience teaches that leaks are sometimes random. Not every leak is necessarily the fruit of brainstorming by strategic consultants. But the truth is no longer relevant.

Along with the claims that the Shin Bet released the video in order to justify its use of torture, other more troubling allegations are also being made, according to which the objective of the leak was to besmirch religious Zionism as a whole, even though the head of the Shin Bet himself belongs to the religious Zionist ‘camp’ (as it likes to call itself – RB). It’s too early to assess the long-term repercussions of the affair on religious Zionism. Many details are still unavailable, and are likely to be published in the coming weeks. In addition to the arson/murder at Duma, a much wider infrastructure will be revealed, composed of activists who have the goal of dismantling the state and replacing it with a theocratic kingdom. The leaders of the underground network are the sons of rabbis or youths from distinguished families, the heart of the religious Zionist mainstream, who have gone through a process of radicalization and found themselves on the hilltops. In the meantime, opposing voices are being heard from two interesting figures in the religious Zionist camp. One is Zvi Sukkot, a resident of Yitzhar who was detained in the past for the arson of a mosque. He made waves with an article in which he criticized the religious Zionist mainstream for what he said was its condescending attitude to the fringes, an attitude from those who gave birth to the Jewish underground of the 1980s and who themselves broke the law with their unauthorized building. An article by Itai Zar, the founder of the Havat Gilad illegal outpost and at one stage one of the most prominent figures in the activities of the hilltop youth, asked the youth to halt their anti-Arab hate crimes, known colloquially as “price tag” attacks. He wrote:

In general, I believe in positive activity. Our “price tag” should be building, agriculture, getting married and having children, another settlement, another kindergarten. We want revenge, but it must be national: revenge on our enemies for all the blood that has been spilled; revenge that will teach our enemies that the shedding of Jewish blood doesn’t go unpunished. I have faith in the leadership, in the army and in the security forces that they will do what is good for the People of Israel. And I thus beseech the leadership: Give our youth hope! Build settlements! Show the Zionist public that Zionism is not dead, and that building Eretz Yisrael is not something to be ashamed of!

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