The methods of torture used by Israeli intelligence agency Shin Bet to extract confessions will be kept secret during the ongoing court case against the Duma murderers.
The Central District Court in Lod (Lydda) yesterday ruled that while the proceedings of the Duma murder trial will now be held in open court, future sessions in which Shin Bet officials testify about their methods of interrogation will remain closed to the public.
The move came following a petition by Israeli newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth and Israeli attorney Tali Lieblich for the court to open its proceedings to the public. Prior to this appeal, the trial had been conducted in closed court “to prevent the exposure of Shin Bet methods and operations,” Haaretz reported.
The interrogation methods used by Shin Bet were thrust into the spotlight in June after an Israeli court ruled that one of the confessions given by Amiram Ben-Uliel, the main suspect in the Duma murder case, was inadmissible as evidence because it was extracted under torture.
Ben-Uliel claimed that the Shin Bet interrogators “jumped me, beat me, bound my hand and foot, and put pressure on me in painful places”. Ben-Uliel also alleged that the interrogators “asked me simply to sit back at a 45-degree angle, which is impossible. After a minute at most I fell back, my head almost hit the floor,” then one interrogator said “we’re going to drink the blood from your ears,” according to Haaretz.
Ben-Uliel, a 21-year-old extremist Israeli settler who lived in the illegal Adei Ad outpost, north of Ramallah in the occupied West Bank, is suspected of murdering the Dawabsheh family in an arson attack in 2015. The Dawabshehs lived in Duma, a village not far from the Adei Ad outpost, until their home was hit by a Molotov cocktail. The attack killed Ali Saeed Dawabsheh, the family’s 18-month-old son, as well as his mother Riham and father Saad. The only survivor of the attack was five-year-old Ahmed.
In January 2016, Ben-Uliel and a 16-year-old minor, who cannot be named for legal reasons, were indicted for carrying out the arson attack. Ben-Uliel is facing charges of three counts of murder, while the minor faced charges of conspiring to commit a murder. The minor was detained for two years, before being released to house arrest in July. Haaretz added that despite the fact that proceedings will now be held in open court, publishing the minor’s name, picture or details will still be banned.
The Duma attack provoked an outcry across the occupied Palestinian territories which continued throughout Autumn 2015. Combined with violence at Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa Mosque, the killing of the Dawabshehs was believed to have motivated the upsurge in protests and stabbings that left four Israelis and 14 Palestinians dead.