It was an unprecedented interrogational exercise carried out by the Israel Police: Jewish youths suspected of “price tag” vandalism were imprisoned in the Acre detention center, in an imaginary wing composed entirely of undercover law enforcement officers posing as fellow inmates, whose job was to extract a confession from the Jewish youths, sometimes by exerting heavy pressure, about their role in the acts of vandalism.
Chaim Levinson brought the story in Haaretz, and Omri Assenheim revealed on the Uvda program on Channel 12 the sounds from inside the prison.
One of the suspects was Ts., a 17-year-old boy from Yitzhar, who was arrested in December 2015 on charges of arson and puncturing of tires. After an interrogation by the Israel Security Agency (Shin Bet), Ts. was sent to the detention center in Acre, where the police officers created for him a completely fictional reality. The minor’s lawyer is Attorney Itamar Ben-Gvir.
Although he was a minor, Ts. was placed in a holding cell with adults – “David”, “Meir” and “Amos” - who pretended to be prisoners with a heavy criminal record who had been convicted of murder, drug trafficking and violence. The three, together with “Omri the cell inmate" (a prisoner who connects the prisoners in the cells to the prison staff, and provides the prisoners with food and equipment), executed a series of unprecedented tricks in an attempt to extract a confession from Ts.
The original recordings from the imaginary prison in Acre, which are exposed for the first time, raise serious questions about what is permitted and forbidden in interrogations of this kind, and how flexible the line is in the desperate attempt by the investigating authorities to decipher acts of Jewish terrorism.
From the recordings:
As soon as he entered the cell, Ts. asked to be transferred to a cell with minors.
Ts.: "Say, is there a cell here with minors?"
"Prisoner": "I do not know"
Ts.: "Are there not guys here who look like me?"
"Prisoner": "Say, what’s going on? Can you not see that they are sleeping here?
Ts.: "OK, sorry."
Ts. (turns to the prison guard): "Can I move to a cell for minors?"
Prison guard: "There is no cell for minors."
In another incident, Ts. wants to put on tefillin after returning from a court hearing, but the "prisoners" in the cell instruct him to enter the bathroom and stay there.
"Prisoner": "Get up for a minute, boy, go to the bathroom for a moment."
Ts.: "I'm in the middle of praying"
Ts.: "Praying to God...I want to put on tefillin for a second".
"Prisoner": "I did not ask you, I’m telling you – go inside."
Ts.: "What do you want from me? What do you want?"
"Prisoner": "Go inside, I want to talk, do not you understand Hebrew?"
Ts.: "All right, but I want to pray."
"Prisoner": "Go inside. Do not answer me at all, understand?"
Despite the fact that Ts. is suspected of committing an act of Jewish terror, and naturally is supposed to be separated from Arab prisoners, a brawl breaks out between "Jewish prisoners" and "Arab prisoners", during which both sides spill urine on each other. The urine spills into the cell, and Ts. is asked to clean it. During the "fight" harsh curses are heard.
The friendliest "prisoner" to Ts. is "Meir", who provides him with an attentive ear. This is the background to the main trick - the drug trick. On the second night of his stay in the cell, “Meir” hides under the mattress, as Ts. and the rest of the cell's occupants look on, a white bag filled with something that looks like a drug. The next day, Ts. enters the shower, and when he comes out, a "surprise search" is carried out in the cell. Another "prisoner", David, who plays a dangerous murderer, is convinced that Ts. "informed" the prison authorities about the “drug”.
“David” demands that Ts. provide him with information about crimes he committed in the past, in order to feel safe; Ts. "holds" a secret about him, and now “David” will hold a "secret" about Ts.
David is exerting heavy pressure on Ts.
"David" (to Ts): "Do not touch anything here, sit here, sit down, you have the eyes of a maniac."
Ts: "I can tell you ..."
"David": "Shut up, shut up, let me think for a second, shut up! Omri! ... Brother ... Wake me up, God ... How did they put him (Ts.) in here and then the whole mess started? I didn’t trust him from the beginning, I saw a girl with ponytails and I said this is no good... "
The “prisoners” around Ts. then pretend to be scared because he, allegedly, told on them. He is threatened by “David”, who says Ts. “has evil eyes”.
David is taken for an interrogation and, upon returning to the cell, puts Ts. in the bathroom and demands that he receive an admission of an offense he committed in the past.
"David": "Do you know me?"
“David”: “I don’t know you either. I do not want to make mistakes, my life is already no longer a life... I have not seen my daughter for half a year…I do not care about you. I do not know you, I do not want to know you either... I'm not calm ... How can I be sure that you are not playing games with me now? Listen, I'll take something from you, I do not know what yet, I'll think, let me, I'll try to think ...”