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Honenu to PM: Stop the brutal GSS interrogations

Updated: Jun 20, 2022

Shmuel (Zangi) Meidad, Director of Honenu
Shmuel (Zangi) Meidad, Director of Honenu; Photo credit: Honenu

Sunday, January 12, 2020, 19:50 On Sunday, January 12, Director of Honenu, Shmuel (Zangi) Meidad sent Prime Minister Netanyahu an urgent letter requesting that he clarify the situation of the Jewish youths detained by the GSS and that he act to stop the heavy-handed treatment by the GSS of the youths. During the past week and a half the GSS detained several Jewish youths suspected of property crimes against Arabs. The detainees are being interrogated under harsh conditions in GSS facilities. Initially they were prohibited from meeting with an attorney and during court deliberations it became apparent that the youths were being aggressively investigated, through methods including brutal interrogations. Meidad opened his letter: “Recently you learned for yourself how damaging and how brutal the law enforcement system can be. You experienced and still are experiencing how frustrating selective enforcement is, how serious a situation is in which persecution due to a different appearance or world-view takes the form of criminal cases. For me, as someone who has for many years assisted civilians and soldiers who find themselves entangled in GSS and police interrogations, this is nothing new at all. The rights of activists are frequently and systematically violated by the GSS and the police. From the moment that the headline ‘nationalist crime’ appears on a case everyone being investigated can forget about their dignity and their fundamental rights being maintained. “We had hoped that the sharp criticism voiced by the courts about the investigation of the ‘Duma Blood Libel’ and the Dormition Abbey case would lead to the relevant authorities drawing the correct conclusions, but we were proven wrong. Currently Jewish youths suspected of only property crimes – which hasn’t prevented the GSS from treating them as if they headed terror organizations – are detained in the GSS dungeons. They were under orders prohibiting them from meeting with an attorney and their interrogations continued on Shabbat in an intentional and blatant trampling of their religious beliefs. When the detainees were allowed to meet with their attorneys, they reported serious violations of their rights in the interrogation rooms. “The court was also shocked when the judges heard what the exhausting hours of the interrogations were. Judge Katavii-Rivlin wrote in her decision: ‘This situation in which the suspect is denied continuous sleep and then taken from his cell to be interrogated in the middle of the night, is unacceptable. I did not find any justification for this harmful manner of interrogation.’ “As the one directly responsible for the GSS, I turn to you: ‘Remove the beam from between your eyes.’ Whoever complains morning and night about selective enforcement, invalid forms of investigation, and rights violations of himself and his associates, must first clean the stables for which he is responsible. The GSS methodically and systematically violates every norm and every fundamental right of interrogatees when it comes to someone who appears a bit different. All this is at a time when there are hundreds of incidents of rock-throwing at Jews on the roads in Yehuda and Shomron, every week, and the GSS does not investigate at all. The cases are closed within hours on the grounds of ‘perpetrator unknown’. We have many such cases on our desks.” Meidad concluded the letter: “As Prime Minister you directly oversee the GSS and also the police, and thus you are the only one responsible for the policy which determines who will investigate cases such as this. It is in your hands to act immediately to rectify the injustices that continue at this very moment.”

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