Four years after complaint is filed, "Mivtan" responds


Honenu Attorney Adi Keidar; Photo credit: Honenu

Sunday, June 19, 2022, 18:11A young resident of Bnei Brak was taken in by the GSS for interrogation in May 2018. Shortly afterward, Honenu Attorney Adi Keidar filed a complaint on behalf of the youth with “Mivtan,” the department of the Justice Ministry authorized to investigate complaints by GSS interrogatees, detailing the youth's claims of sexual assault, degrading treatment, and forced violation of Shabbat. Recently, four years after the complaint was filed, the head of Mivtan responded to the claims and sent a letter to the GSS clarifying regulations.

In a court hearing at the time that the youth was undergoing interrogations, he stated: "I would like to complain about something serious that occurred on Shabbat. I also told this to the interrogator. I was sexually assaulted by an interrogator who called himself 'Bruno'. And a lot more happened. I received humiliating and degrading treatment. I started to lose my sanity."

The youth then gave formal testimony to a Mivtan investigator stating that the GSS interrogators screamed in his ears and sprayed him with saliva when they shouted at him, but did not allow him to dry his face. Every time he moved during interrogation, the interrogators yelled at him, "Why are you moving?" Among other abuses, the interrogators laughed at his payot, compared him to Bob Marley, and forced him to listen to songs on Shabbat.

Additionally, the youth repeated his complaint that 'Bruno' had sexually assaulted him and stated that after he revealed the assault to the court, an interrogator by the name 'Amnon' threatened him with being kept in remand on Shabbat because 'Bruno' was not going to like what he had said in court. The interrogators intimidated the youth with threats against his family, made fun of him with sexually suggestive jeers, did not allow him to finish his meals, and did not allow him enough time to pray, among other abuses.

In his recent reply to the youth's complaint, the head of Mivtan wrote that the GSS regulations and guidelines concerning shouting at interrogatees in the face had been clarified and that he had instructed the GSS to clarify with interrogators the regulations of statements with sexual overtones, particularly regarding the interrogation of minors. The head of Mivtan also sent a letter to the Public Security Ministry regarding the youth's complaint about being forced to choose between praying and eating due to the lack of time granted him.

In conclusion, the head of Mivtan wrote that after a comprehensive examination (which lasted four years…) "we did not find any flaws in the conduct of the GSS interrogators with regard to most of the claims. Concerning the other claims, we did not find grounds to justify either opening a criminal investigation or taking disciplinary steps… However, we found it proper to [clarify regulations] with the GSS regarding interrogations on Shabbat and also regarding statements with sexual overtones in the framework of an interrogation."

Honenu Attorney Adi Keidar, who is representing the complainant: "Better late than never. We hope that the letter from the head of Mivtan, although it was sent four years after the incident, will prompt the GSS interrogators to follow the law and adhere to the regulations even when interrogations are far from the public eye. The foot-dragging for many years without any criticism, together with the fact that time after time the claims raised against the GSS interrogators were rejected, needs to be immediately examined by government officials and oversight authorities."

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