Israelis are beginning to speak of what will or should happen during the process of investigating and solving the kidnapping of three West Bank teenagers. Israeli security services use the concept of “ticking bomb” to conceal an array of abuses. There is talk that the security services have been given carte blanche to torture suspects and even worse.
The Public Committee Against Torture in Israel is so concerned about both the interrogations of suspects and collaborators in the crime, and apprehensions of those who actually currently hold them, that it’s released a pre-emptive public statement warning Shabak against use of torture.
Bibi Netanyahu is reported to have pre-approved use of torture to elicit any useful information in solving the crime. My own Israeli source claims that each use of torture must be approved by the Shabak’s legal advisor. This source assures me that the advisor will not serve as a rubber stamp and will review every request carefully. Frankly, I like trusting my source whenever I can. But in this case I think he’s being entirely too credulous.
Pres. Peres has also unleashed the dogs, saying (Hebrew, and in English) there are ‘no restraints’ on security forces in solving this case. Here is a perfect example of the gobbledy-gook that passes for security policy in Israel. It is quoted from a Shabak public statement:
“The Shin Bet does not receive approvals to undertake interrogations from any authority. The Shin Bet carries out its interrogation policy according to its own authority, legally and according to law and the decisions of the High Court. Every interrogation by the Shin Bet receives oversight from the attorney-general.”
Got that? Shin Bet acts unilaterally in such matters and needs no one’s approval. But it does in fact need the attorney general’s approval. Crystal clear, right? This is secret police-speak for: “Tell that friggin’ NGO to mind its own damn business and let us get on with it.” Shabak needs no one’s approval and will get whatever approval it does need in rubber stamp form from the attorney general. Ask how many times the AG has denied a security service request to use torture? I’ll bet the number hovers around “0.”
My concern is that Israeli forces, when they crack the case and identify where the boys are being held, will go in with guns blazing. There is an unwritten code in Israel that Palestinian terrorists are dead meat. The number of suspects apprehended alive during or after a terror attack is extremely small. Even after such an attacker is apprehended and disarmed, they are often executed at point blank range.
This tradition began in earnest in 1984 after the Bus 300 Line attack. Two hijackers were captured alive. Later they were escorted by the Shabak to a secluded area where an officer bashed their heads in with a rock. The agency chief at the scene who ordered the murder, Avraham Shalom, died today. Neither he nor anyone else was ever punished for the killings. He resigned in return for a promise of a presidential pardon, which he received.
The only reason this crime became a scandal was that a photographer captured a picture of the two very much alive and in custody. Today, there would be no such picture and no such scandal. The nation today views such Israelis as avengers and heroes.
My greatest fear is that anyone associated with the kidnapping will end up dead: either executed in cold blood on sight at the scene; or stalked by Israeli security forces and killed one by one wherever they may be found afterward. This could turn into another Munich, in which the Mossad tracked down every perpetrator of the Olympic massacre and liquidated them. This led, I remind you, to a mistaken execution of an entirely innocent waiter in Lillehammer who was mistaken by Israeli assassins for one of the terrorists. Netanyahu would be honored to receive such a national obligation in the case of the kidnapping. He would consider it a sacred duty to avenge the victims whether they are found alive or not.
Discrediting Palestinians is Bibi’s raison d’etre. He has no other, because if Palestine is diminished Israel is elevated. Its a peculiar equation, but has worked for him over decades of political life.
Israel is not just trying to solve a terrorist crime. It is also trying to destroy the Palestinian unity government. If it can drive a wedge between Hamas and Fatah–this is what gives Bibi reason to live. Reports today that Mahmoud Abbas has abjectly promised Israel that it would root out the perpetrators of the crime have caused his political stock to plummet among Palestinians and Hamas’ to rise. This again, is music to Israel’s ears. Because if a Palestinian moderate is cut down to size and the the stock of radicals rises, pressure will be lifted from Israel to do anything but sit tight, sittin’ pretty.
Tonight, a second Palestinian was murdered by the IDF during escalating civil resistance to the Israeli siege of Hebron. Over 280 have been arrested, including virtually all of Hamas’ leadership in the West Bank.