Exclusive:
Father of tortured Israeli youth speaks out

Father of defendant in Duma murder case tells of two years since arrest; 'His confession was extracted under torture.'

Yoni Kempinski & M Sones,

Demonstrating Shin Bet torture techniques
Demonstrating Shin Bet torture techniques
Flash 90

Two years have passed since the Shin Bet arrested a number of people suspected of belonging to a "Jewish terror" organization in Judea and Samaria, including the son of M.A., then a 17-year-old minor.

Since then, an indictment has been filed against the son, accusing him of involvement in planning the murder of the three family members in the village of Duma, but not of carrying out the murder, as well as involvement in additional "price tag" acts of vandalism.

In a special interview with Arutz Sheva, the father recounts the family's coping with the son's arrest and the legal battle being waged in his case.

According to him, his son is being held in Ayalon Prison in solitary confinement and is generally unable to see other people. "First they claimed that he was afraid that he would be hurt by Arabs who would seek revenge, but when he asked to move to the Torah wing he was refused because he was defined as a 'terrorist', a designation held by only three Jews throughout the country."

The trial is still ongoing and the sentence has not yet been passed. "This is one of the strangest and most painful things; all along the way, the Supreme Court told us at every remand that the trial will be completed in a year and therefore they are extending the detention by another 45 days.

"Our lawyers warned us this is not a simple case, it will take time, and indeed it has been two years and I think it is a record number of remand extensions in the State of Israel. Last week his detention was extended again - 45 days for the 14th time.

אביו של "נאשם מס' 2"
צילום: יוני קמפינסקי

"There are people who are accused of murder and are released once they have been in prison for more than a year, but here, stangely, they are not released. They extend remand time after time even though my son is not charged with murder."

The father tells of the torture his son suffered and reads from the testimony of the son to the judge when he says:

"They bend me backwards like a bow with my hands and hang me upside down until my hands burn. I feel like they're burning me with a lighter. Every day it goes up a notch; I don't know what will happen tomorrow. They interrogate me violently about something I can't help them with because I do not know.

"They do not even show any doubt, they tear me apart, twist my back, laugh, and look at me with contempt. How can I protect myself? I'm accused of something but I don't know, I can't say names because I don't know, I don't hide anything from them.

"They abused me for a whole night and didn't make any progress because I can't help them. Now the abuse will only increase. I scream like a lunatic, cry like a baby; they laugh.

"Where do I get refuge, where is the doubt? Maybe he was right. This is the greatest injustice that the State of Israel has done to a human being. I can't do it anymore. A whole night of abuse. I told them to kill me but don't do this to me. Give me poison. I beg your Honor I can't anymore."

The father reveals the family's feelings upon hearing the distressing description: "It's hard - it's very hard for my father, it's even harder for my mother; it's hard for the whole family and it's hard for many of the Jewish People.

Demonstrating Shin Bet torture techniques
Flash 90

The son's confession was extracted only because of the torture he suffered?

"Absolutely. Only from that. There is no other evidence linking my son to the charges except for confessions extracted by torture, and five consecutive days of torture is one of the things we are most concerned about.

"We talked about the past and the present," the father tells Arutz Sheva, "the harassment in the prison, but let's talk about future fear: The prosecutor's office presents an indictment as if everything is clear and simple and all his confessions were given freely. They describe the character of a 16-year-old boy who 'ran' the GSS interrogation. 20-30 interrogators sit on him in shifts; they don't let him breathe for days on end, and they claim he was in control, as if he is a grown man with tremendous powers to 'run' things, he 'conducted' negotiations with GSS interrogators, so when he gave the confessions it was what they call by the sanitized name 'necessary interrogation', a.k.a. severe torture; that's how he handed over the confessions."

The father reveals that contrary to statements by the Shin Bet and the police claiming additional evidence strengthening the suspicions, during the trial itself, the State Attorney's Office admitted that it has no evidence other than the son's confession.

"The tortures were not only physical torture, and not only in the GSS facility. Before that, he underwent an 'exercise' called the 'informer's gambit'. They were taken to a prison, Acre prison, where they took up a whole wing and put inside police disguised as heavy criminals, some of them were Jews and some were Arabs and my son was put in the cell together with three heavy criminals who spoke foul language from the first day he was there. He was in this facility for nearly a week.

"On the first day they let him understand that he's suspected of being a police informer so that he'll tell 'in his defense' his crimes. They begin to threaten him, 'If you don't say what you're really sitting on, we'll have to make sure you're gone.' This was only the beginning.

"After two days that he was under tremendous pressure, they staged a stabbing of an Arab prisoner who wss also disguised, and then they pass a knife in front of his eyes and says 'You'd better say what you're sitting on, what crimes and things; let us have something on you in case you tell on us..' He says, 'I have nothing.' He felt a threat to his life so he started inventing involvement all kinds of price tag incidents that were famous.

"And they tell him, 'That's not enough. What about Duma? You were in Duma, admit Duma; and he says, 'But I wasn't in Duma, I can't.'"

The father also refers to the theory that the Duma fire was arson caused by clans fighting in the village and says the matter has not been properly investigated. "It never came up, and I don't know if it ever will come up in court, but we do know that in that same year at least four or five other arsons occurred in the village that nearly killed the same family, the Dawabsha family, and another incident that happened exactly one month after the arson we're talking about in Duma.

Demonstrating Shin Bet torture techniques
Flash 90

"The Shin Bet prevented the legal authorities from investigating what happened there, against the backdrop of the arson, and our feeling is that there was a cynical exploitation of an incident involving clan quarrels, liquidating internal accounts within the village, possibly to eliminate the phenomenon they call Hilltop Youth.

"In any case, as soon as there was a declaration by government authorities, from the President through the Prime Minister and senior ministers, until the State of Israel openly admits, 'We did it and we'll find the culprits'. Way before the investigation began, the Defense Minister and Internal Security Minister said 'We know who the people are, but we don't have evidence,' so in order to legalize the torture, they say 'there's terror infrastructure, a ticking time-bomb; we'll already produce evidence'."

The answer is clear, but the question has to be asked. Did he do it or didn't he?

"I believe he did not. Even if, heaven forbid, what I know for certain he didn't do, he was involved in one way or another in Duma, I think that serious criminals also have rights. I haven't seen, for example, such a 'necessary interrogation' of the heads of organized crime.

"The Shin Bet was able to get permission to torture my son because they said there was a 'ticking bomb', and if there is a ticking bomb, a 'necessary interrogation' can be used."

In other words, if we don't torture him, he'll do another Duma...

"He or his friends, they claim, have a whole infrastructure here, a terrorist organization, and one of the most difficult charges he is accused of is membership in a terrorist organization, which also affects detention conditions. He is defined as a terrorist because he belongs to a terrorist organization.

"Every reasonable person understands that a terrorist organization is like Hamas; that Hezbollah has an entire infrastructure, there are the fund-raisers, there are the weapons, there are cells, and the hierarchy, they have support from the population ... Here we're talking about three or four people who are defined as 'terrorists'. In other words, this 'necessary investigation' yielded nothing in terms of exposing that infrastructure that, as they published and claimed at the time, threatened to commit Duma II and Duma III..

"This also affects detention conditions today. We can only visit him once a week for half-an-hour inside a glass booth with a telephone on both sides."

Demonstrating Shin Bet torture techniques
Flash 90

You haven't hugged him in two years?

"Once a month they go beyond the letter of the law and open the window so we can hug him, through a window half a meter by half a meter. That's all there is."

The father says that even the lawyers were not allowed to meet his son in private. "When they asked to meet with my son to brief him in preparation for the testimony - we are talking about a file of thousands of pages and he needs to be briefed as they brief every witness or person," the father said, "the prosecution objected to meeting him in private. The lawyers also had to speak to him via telephone through a glass partition, and of course everything is recorded, so there's no privacy."

"Again I bring an example from organized crime, where there could be many killed or wounded people; no one would dare imagine that those people's lawyer shouldn't be allowed to meet intimately with their client."

Asked what they hope for, the father replies, "We are believing people and we pray for very great help from Heaven. Ultimately, in the next two months, the District Court judges will make a decision."

"At the moment I cry out. I cry out as father of a son who is sitting in jail through no fault of his own, and even if one could say that he did these things, a prisoner has rights in the State of Israel.

"He is not charged with murder, he is accused that at the age of 16-and-a-half he planned the fire in Duma, and again there is no evidence other than the confession. All people have rights. We turned to senior rabbis to appeal to let him live in a dignified manner inside the prison. The Shin Bet doesn't allow it."

The father appealed to a Knesset member and asked him to take action to allow his son to pray on Yom Kippur with a minyan (quorum), but that MK checked the matter and returned with a negative answer and said that his hands were tied.

"As a citizen of the State of Israel who cares about rights, this time it was my son who was expelled from the education system and chose to be one of the Hilltop Youth, to our dismay. But from here to the current situation where he is accused by the State of Israel after revoking his basic rights, I think every citizen of the State of Israel should be concerned if these are our legal authorities."



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