(Illustration) Flash 90

Ayelet Hashahar-Hakohen, a founder of the outpost town Givat Shalhevetya adjacent to Yitzhar in Samaria, spoke to Arutz Sheva on Friday and called to stop the persecution of the "hilltop youth" - the much-maligned Jewish youths strengthening Israel's presence in Judea and Samaria.

Hashahar-Hakohen called to dismantle the Jewish Department of the Israel Security Agency (ISA), in statements that come a day after lawyers revealed ISA investigators are brutally torturing Jewish suspects in the lethal Duma arson amid a total lack of evidence.

Speaking about her role in founding the town, she said, "we are former 'hilltop youth' and if only this strength would continue for us to the age of 100. We also suffered a lot from the system in the past, arrests, administrative distancing orders, we experienced it ourselves."

The ISA's Jewish Department was established out of fears in the defense system over the "hilltop youth," she said.

"These children starting from age 12 and up are children of the sort that we are lucky to merit; when at their age most children are busy with computer and iPhone screens, that doesn't interest them, they are interested in the land, the land of Israel, agriculture, building and a connection to our roots."

She explained that the parents of these children "are not necessarily 'settlers.' It moves you to tears to see the self-sacrifice of the children who day and night study Torah, guard their towns, remove rocks, weeds and thorns and want to settle the land of Israel."

"Every day blood is spilled"

"It is true that these youths sometimes make mistakes, but those come not from a place of hostility or danger," Hashahahar-Hakohen said of the occasional vandalism. "There is definitely a need to help the youths understand that harming Arabs is not the way - if only the security system and the state would do what is needed (against the Arab terror threat - ed.), but unfortunately it isn't happening."

"This youth cannot stand it that every day blood is spilled, it's very painful, and because the system doesn't do its job, these children are confused."

Hashahar-Hakohen argued that the state needs to encourage and direct the "hilltop youth" instead of cracking down on them and persecuting them.

"Children like these at the foundation of the state, without the peot (sidelocks - ed.) and kippah, were considered the pioneers and today with the kippah and the tzitziot they abuse them as if they were terrorists. The state is investing hundreds of thousands (of shekels) to pursue them, to put detectives on them, they torture them, and hit them with murderous blows."

In the Duma investigation, after finally being able to see their clients - in some cases 21 days after they were arrested - the lawyers learned from them of the torture that included sleep deprivation for days, the beating of a minor's sensitive organs until he could not feel kicks and slaps, and one suspect whose head was pulled backwards until he violently vomited.

"On Hanukkah we established a conference of mothers for such youths, (Tzfat Chief Rabbi) Rabbi Shmuel Eliyahu told us that he is jealous of these parents, these are holy children, this is a precious youth that we want to help, to be with and to connect to," said Hashahar-Hakohen.

"It's true that they make mistakes, but...these are children who are ready to sacrifice themselves just for the land of Israel. Instead of pursuing them they should help them, the state should give them money for agriculture, spiritual leaders should strengthen them, there are hundreds of youths like this in the hills (of Judea and Samaria)."