Israel: Harsher Interrogations for Jewish Suspects

YERUSHALAYIM (Reuters/Hamodia) -
Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Israel will allow harsher interrogations of suspected Jewish terrorists and might permit security services to violently shake detainees following a deadly arson attack on a Palestinian family, Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan said on Monday.

The announcement came a day after the government said it would start detaining without trial citizens suspected of terrorism against Palestinians.

Erdan said on Israel Radio on Monday that “what the security cabinet told the security services yesterday was that any method is kosher,” Erdan said.

“An interrogation method like tiltul (violent shaking) or anything that is done when it comes to Palestinian terrorists — the same thing should be done when it comes to a Jewish terrorist,” he added.

Tiltul was one of a number of methods used by the domestic intelligence agency Shin Bet against terror suspects that was curbed by Israel’s Supreme Court in 1999. But security experts say the ruling left it as an option in select cases where interrogators prove to superiors an urgent need to glean information that may foil imminent attacks.

The Shin Bet could not immediately be reached for comment on Monday.

Itamar Ben-Gvir, a lawyer who has represented Israelis accused of political violence, said Erdan’s tiltul remarks were scandalous, adding that he might mount a new court challenge.

“The government is acting like an elephant in a china shop,” Ben-Gvir said. “After they’ve spared arch-terrorists this method, they want to try it out against Jewish youths.”

No one has been arrested for Friday’s arson attack, which Erdan said appeared to be the work of Jews.

In a separate interview on Army Radio, Erdan said the state might require suspects to wear electronic ankle-bracelets to track their movements.

Meanwhile, Jewish groups in the United States called on Israel to take more aggressive action. The attacks “must be met with determined action to prevent violence, apprehend perpetrators, and hold to account those who engage in incitement,” Stephen Greenberg, chairman, and Malcolm Hoenlein, executive vice chairman and CEO of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, said in a statement, which also “expressed their profound sorrow to the Dawabsha family on the death of their child, Ali Saad Dawabsha.”

“Terror — whatever the source — must be given no quarter,” AIPAC said in a statement that condemned the attack, and expressed condolences to the family. “The deliberate and heinous targeting and murder of innocents cannot be tolerated.”

The Anti-Defamation League condemned what it called the “shocking terror attack” in a statement.

“Expressions of outrage are no longer enough. The perpetrators of these crimes need to face specific, enhanced consequences for these despicable acts of hate and terrorism.”

“Such a heinous act offends all people of good will and violates basic Jewish values,” the Orthodox Union said in a statement. “We commend Prime Minister Netanyahu for his unequivocal repudiation of this act and his commitment to bring the perpetrators to justice.”

In a related development, the Palestinian Authority said on Monday that it has presented a file documenting “settler terrorism” to the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC), Fatou Bensouda. The file, said PA Foreign Minister Riad Malki, contains specific information about Friday’s arson attack.