Above: Right-wing demonstrators protest at Shin Bet head's home (Olivier Fitoussi / Ha'aretz)
Competing Demonstrations Showcase Rift In Israeli Society
Shmarya Rosenberg • FailedMessiah.com
3,000 demonstrators marched in Tel Aviv tonight to protest incitement against Israel’s President Reuven Rivlin and human rights groups, including Breaking the Silence, Ha’aretz reported.
"[We are opposed to] the incitement against the president, the campaign against civic society and human rights groups, the personal persecution of individuals, the legislation of laws restricting non-profit groups and the condoning of violence against them,” the organizers wrote on Facebook before the march. They also asked Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to speak out clearly against the incitement to violence – which he has not yet done. “Netanyahu is responsible and we haven’t heard a word from him attempting to calm this dangerous situation,” the organizers wrote.
Meanwhile, approximately 1,000 right-wing demonstrators, many of them extremist West Bank Jewish settlers linked to Kahanist organizations, protested tonight outside the home of Yoram Cohen, the head of Israel’s Internal Security Service (which is better known as the Shabak or the Shin Bet).
A mob broke away from the main demonstration and tried to rush Cohen's house, and police blocked the streets and formed a perimeter around the house as they pushed the extreme rightists away.
They protested what they claim is torture of suspects detained in the arson-murders of three members of the Dawabsheh family in the West Bank Palestinian village of Douma (Duma) in July.
The three suspects were detained in late November but were not allowed to meet their attorneys – who work for the extreme right-wing Kahanist Honenu legal aid organization – Wednesday.
The next day, Honenu’s attorneys held a press conference and alleged their clients had been tortured by the Shin Bet, which led to them confessing to several racist attacks including the arsons of mosques, but not to the fatal Douma arson.
The types of torture allegedly used reportedly match up exactly with torture descriptions by Palestinians who claim to have been tortured by the Shin Bet.
The Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI) – one of the left-wing organizations the Kahanists frequently rail against and target for abuse – reportedly said the Honenu lawyers’ statements put the Shin Bet’s use of illegal interrogation methods in the spotlight.
"Such methods have been rejected by the High Court as torture. We call on whomever in the Justice Ministry is responsible for investigating complaints against the Shin Bet to open an immediate investigation into the latest complaints,” the ACRI said in statement.
The Shin Bet said only that the suspects had been “intensely interrogated.”
Raz Nizri, Israel’s Deputy Attorney General for Criminal Law, told a Knesset committee on Monday that “extraordinary measures” were used to hold the three suspects and said Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein approved their use with judicial oversight. Nizri told Ha’aretz those “extraordinary measures” included waiting more than 48 hours before bringing suspects before a judge and the extension of their detention period in absentia.