Friends of detainees protest outside courtroom (file)
Friends of detainees protest outside courtroom (file)Yoni Kempinski

Around 100 social workers, psychologists and mental health specialists published a petition on Tuesday, in light of the descriptions of brutal torture revealed in court protocols of the lethal Duma arson case.

"We were shocked to hear a treatise of awful torture," wrote the specialists in a joint petition, responding to the abuse described by the Jews being held on vague suspicions of involvement in the arson murder, with no evidence presented against them.

"According to the description given by one of the minors before the court, the detainees are investigated brutally with physical and mental abuse including blows to sensitive organs, having their organs pulled, investigations continuing for days while being prevented from sleeping, sexual humiliation and more."

"One of the minor detainees even tried to put an end to his life after being hit, humiliated and tortured," they added, noting a suspect who told the court he tried to commit suicide and begged for the Israeli Security Agency (ISA) to kill him because he could not bear the torture any longer. The suspect's arms were found to be covered in numerous scars, backing up his statements.

Signatories to the petition noted that the suspects, several of whom are minors, suffer from an ongoing breach of the basic individual rights guaranteed to every citizen. They added that the investigation completely goes against the basic laws of Israel, such as criminal procedures and the youth law.

"I strongly oppose any harm to human rights and particularly any harm to the rights of minors," said Prof. Guy Enosh of Haifa University's School of Social Work, who is among the leaders of the protest.

"Torture so as to extract admissions from suspects only exists in dark regimes," he said, bemoaning "where the state of Israel is deteriorating to if it conducts such things. Even the process of preventing contact with a lawyer is against human rights and has no place in a democratic state."

"Lifelong scars"

The psychologists and social works emphasized that the High Court forbade the usage of torture in investigations many years ago, and that modern law does not recognize the validity of admissions extracted under torture.

"As treatment specialists who respect the law and work in its systems, we are deeply shocked and concerned by this approach to the slippery slope of investigation and obtaining admissions under harsh torture, when it is clear to all that the goal of this investigation is meant only to decipher criminal acts - as serious as they may be - only after they took place."

"Some of the suspects who were investigated and underwent the treatise of torture for long days were released in recent days without any charges, and it is needless to note the physical and emotional damage they suffer currently and are likely to carry with them throughout their lives," wrote the professionals.

"Human rights organizations, and at their head the Israel National Council for the Child, must raise their voices against the torture and end it immediately."

Several civil rights groups have already called for the ISA to be investigated over the torture, which - if proven - may run contrary to Israeli law. In one case, the ISA was found to have illegally detained one of the suspects, a minor, for longer than the 20 days mandated by the counter-terror law.

But on Tuesday a string of politicians came out in support of the ISA, giving it "full backing" and defending it against allegations of torture.