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Shabak Child Torturers Exposed: Revenge of the Nerds

torturing children

Israeli arrests of Palestinian children like those tortured by the Shin Bet as portrayed in Noam’s blog posts.

Noam R. writes the blog O139 (the title refers to October 1, 1939, the date the Nazis invaded Poland and began WWII; his blog also has the English title, Godwin Was Right).  Like me, he often writes about Israeli security matters and the sometimes vain attempt to protect the last remaining shreds of Israeli democracy.  Earlier this month, he wrote a post about the plague of Shabak and police arrests of Palestinian minors, a phenomenon which is a stark violation of international law.  He further published accounts by the children themselves of their torture and abuse at the hands of their interrogators.  This is Barak Ravid’s account in Haaretz:

On May 2, Noam R. posted excerpts from the witness testimony of Palestinian minors who said they were interrogated by the Shin Bet, including an 8-year-old boy who said he asked to use the bathroom and was told to pee in his pants and a 15-year-old who said a Shin Bet official put jumper cables between his legs and threatened to turn on the electricity if he didn’t confess. On Noam’s Hebrew-language blog, Godwin Tzadak, he wrote that he cried that day for the first time since he was 11.

“I cried when I read testimony from the interrogation rooms of the Shin Bet, especially that of children,” he wrote. “I cried when I learned of the existence of room No. 4 in the Russian Compound interrogation facility, where Palestinian children are taken, and where they are interrogated for hours while being humiliated and tortured, psychologically and physically.”

Naturally, as a blogger and journalist he wanted to identify the torturers so their behavior could receive the public scrutiny it deserved, if Israel was a true democracy.  But you can’t do that in Israel.  The secret police and their identities are protected.  At most, they will be referred to by an initial in news accounts or possibly a first name (often a pseudonym like “Captain George”).  Noam made a bold and courageous, but dangerous decision to tweet publicly the names of the torturers and request readers’ help in identifying them so that he might expose them. He posted this tweet on May 3rd:

“This is the place to remind you that if anyone knows the true identities of these Shabak interrogators: “Sabri” at the Qalqilya District, “Daoud” in Jerusalem, and “Abu Yousef” in Bethlehem, I’m here.”

The blogger was warned in his interrogation that exposing the identity of security operatives was a “crime against national security.”  Doing so, he was told, carried a three-year jail term.  Only in police states is this the case.  In democracies, we’re entitled to know the names of our accusers whether civilian or official.  They also used another classic police state tactic: they asked Noam to name the names of other peace activists with whom he worked.  Though I understand why he couldn’t do so, I would’ve asked to make a bargain with Rona and told her I’d name a name for every Shin Bet agent she would name.

In subsequent tweets today, Noam’s made the ironic point that on May 3rd only a few of his 1,600 followers saw the tweet.  But with a front page article in Haaretz about his detention, most of Israel now knows about Sabri, Abu Yousef, and Daoud.  It shouldn’t be too long before we know their real names, though unfortunately I don’t (I know, I’m letting you all down!).

Three security personnel interrogated Noam, two Shabak officers named Zaki and Rona (who also interrogated Yonatan Shapira and other activists–apparently having a female interrogator is supposed to add a feminine, less adversarial touch to the proceedings) and a police officer.  They threatened him with loss of his job:

At one point during the questioning, another Shin Bet official, who introduced himself as Zaki, threatened him. “He told me that if I kept it up, I could lose my job and even worse, I could go to jail for many years,” Noam said.

That’s a pressure tactic secret police have used through the ages: rendering you unemployable and a social and economic pariah.  I’m glad to hear that Noam has a good lawyer.  I hope he doesn’t need him or her after this.

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{ 12 comments… add one }
  • Jackdaw May 19, 2014, 2:50 PM

    Noam R. reported on the secret arrest of Palestinian journalist Majd Kayyal. Wasn’t that the legal reason why he was summoned and warned? Violating the Court’s gag order ?

    • Richard Silverstein May 19, 2014, 8:22 PM

      @ Jackdaw: You have no idea how annoying it is when you ask questions specifically answered in the sources to which I link. Please read them now & receive your answer. I did read them which is why I didn’t make the mistake you did.

  • David May 19, 2014, 7:31 PM

    Reading along … I really did expect you to name names! What a depressing report. BTW, wasn’t WWII initiated on September 1, 1939?

    • Richard Silverstein May 19, 2014, 8:20 PM

      @ David: You’re right. I’m trying to find out whether the mistake was mine or Noam’s.

  • Jackdaw May 19, 2014, 11:50 PM

    “..Shabak officers named Zaki and Rona (who also interrogated Yonatan Shapira and other activists”
    Isn’t Yonatan Shapira the bad boy anarchist who sprayed graffiti against the Gaza blockade on the site where the Warsaw Ghetto stood?

    • Richard Silverstein May 21, 2014, 12:57 AM

      @ Jackdaw: Shapira is actually a brave peace activist who was one of the first IDF refusers. He is no “bad boy” except to pro-Israel patriots like you.

      • dcdoc1 May 22, 2014, 11:20 AM

        It seems that Yonatan Shapira did spray painted graffiti on the site where the Warsaw Ghetto stood as a gesture of support for BDS. http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2010/07/07/18652903.php

        • Richard Silverstein May 22, 2014, 2:40 PM

          @ dcdoc1: Shapira sought to point out the connection between the suffering of those in the Warsaw Ghetto and those in the Gaza Ghetto. Israel’s shame. For that, I salute him.

          But aside from this, by what right do the Israeli secret police summon him for interrogation about a “crime” (not even) committed under foreign jurisdiction? What friggin’ business is it of theirs? Or do they think it’s their job to police activities by Jews around the globe by virtue of Israel being the State of the entire Jewish people? In that case, perhaps we should have an international Jewish Politburo like the Communist Party used to have. This way, they could rule on what makes a Good Jew or Good Zionist & what makes a bad?!

          I’m sick & tired of this hasbara trope. Bring it up against & your moderated.

          • dcdoc1 May 24, 2014, 11:31 PM

            Jackdaw effectively brought up this person Yonatan Shapira out identifying him only as a “bad boy anarchist who sprayed graffiti against the Gaza blockade on the site where the Warsaw Ghetto stood.” You angrily retorted that he is “a brave peace activist who was one of the first IDF refusers…no ‘bad boy’ except to pro-Israel patriots.” Not knowing who the person was after you and Jackdaw took your shots, I thought to look Shapira up report back that Shapira said he graffitied the Warsaw Ghetto sight as a gesture of support for BDS of Israel.

            You are free to believe whatever you wish, including along with Shapira that the Israelis/Jews are imposing suffering on the residents of Gaza comparable to what the Nazis imposed on those they confined in the Warsaw Ghetto before the destroyed and dispatched its survivors to death camps. It seems less than 100% consistent, though, to say you will not permit the baldly antisemitic Israelis=Nazis trope, while making, or approving, that analogy of the Warsaw Ghetto to the Gaza Ghetto[sic]. (In your view, was it the “Gaza Ghetto” between ’48 and ’67 when Egypt occupied it without objection by others and its circumstances were substantially worse than after Israel conquered the territory in June of ’67 before withdrawing after another 19 years?)

          • Richard Silverstein May 25, 2014, 12:24 PM

            @dcdoc1:

            You are free to believe whatever you wish, including along with Shapira that the Israelis/Jews are imposing suffering on the residents of Gaza comparable to what the Nazis imposed

            Neither I nor Shapira ever made this statement nor did either of us say Israelis were Nazis, but I don’t expect people like you to understand the nuance. But I do demand either a correction or apology from you. If your next comment doesn’t contain one, you will be moderated till you do.

            Gaza is a prison, a ghetto much like the Warsaw ghetto. Israel hasn’t created concentration camps for Gazans yet, but given Israel’s trajectory that could be in the offing. So it’s entirely apt to note the similarities in the two respective situations.

            Gaza’s situation today under Israeli occupation is substantially better than under Egyptian rule? By what measure? Did Egyptians measure the calories they allowed into Gaza? Stop talking nonsense. It’s offensive.

  • dcdoc May 25, 2014, 4:43 PM

    [RA: "You are free to believe whatever you wish, including along with Shapira that the Israelis/Jews are imposing suffering on the residents of Gaza comparable to what the Nazis imposed on those they confined in the Warsaw Ghetto before the destroyed and dispatched its survivors to death camps."]

    [RS: "Neither I nor Shapira ever made this statement..."]

    [YS: "I wanted to start by saying that my whole presence in Poland was part of promoting the BDS (Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions) campaign...Resistance to the starvation of humans and their confinement into ghettos." http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2010/07/07/18652903.php

    During the course of the interview by a most friendly and like-minded interviewer, Shapira returned repeatedly to the subject of Holocaust and Nazis while speaking alternately about the Warsaw Ghetto and the so-called Gaza "Ghetto"[sic]. Read the Shapira piece to which I have linked and explain any “nuance” that makes clear that Shapira intends no obscene and ahistoric analogy of Israelis to Nazis please identify and explain that “nuance.”

    Does the same “nuance” make clear that you intend no analogy of Israelis to Nazis when you write, “Israel hasn’t created concentration camps for Gazans YET (emphasis add), BUT (emphasis added) given Israel’s TRAJECTORY (emphasis added)(what “points on the trajectory to concentration camps you imagine?) that COULD BE (emphasis added). So it’s entirely apt to note the similarities in the two respective situations.” And while you write that, you will deny that you employ the Israelis-as-Nazis trope favored by progressives?

    [RS: "Gaza’s situation today under Israeli occupation is substantially better than under Egyptian rule? By what measure?]

    By all the objective ones from that time and now. [Baster, James, "Economic Problems in the Gaza Strip," Middle East Journal, Vol. 9, No. 3 (Summer, 1955), pp. 323-327.]

    • Richard Silverstein May 25, 2014, 5:56 PM

      @ Dddoc1: I’ve only allowed this comment without your correcting your error this time. But if your next comment doesn’t contain one you will be permanently moderated or banned. BTW, I think you’ve already been moderated. If I find that is the case, then the next step would be banning.

      I didn’t say find a speech Shapira made which proves your point. I said show that he did. Quote a statement he made that equates Israel to Nazis or says the Holocaust is what Israel is doing to the Palestinians. I’m not going to read anything you link to. That’s your job. I want you to bring the evidence, if you find any, here. I didn’t make the claim, you did.

      Regarding your false claim that either of us said Israel=Nazis, what is it in the phrase “not yet” you don’t understand? You missed the lesson in school on nuance, didn’t you?

      You quote a book from 1955 claiming it proves that Gaza’s predicament under Egypt was worse than Israel’s Occupation today? Is there something missing here? You bet there is. Let’s see if you can figure it out.

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