Israel’s Shin Bet is famous for extracting Palestinian confessions to terror attacks. It’s infamous for extracting false confessions as well to crimes suspects didn’t commit. Now the security police have done themselves one better: they extracted a confession to a crime that never even happened.
It all goes back to the “disappearance” of an Israeli, Niv Asraf, outside a West Bank village. His partner, Eran Nagauker, told a story of a flat tire and Asraf’s entering a Palestinian village to get help, after which he disappeared. As a result, the entire Israeli security apparatus went on red alert and began scouring the West Bank for Asraf. The only problem…he hadn’t disappeared. The entire incident was a hoax. They later told a new story that Asraf devised the ruse in order to pretend to escape from his captors and win back an ex-girlfriend.
From the first moment, the story stunk. Nevertheless, everyone went on full alert. When they [the security services] discovered that the partner lied about the flat tire, they assumed it was a drug deal turned into a kidnapping…They called the IDF central command, brought out 3,000 troops, drones, helicopters, turned Palestinian homes upside down, arrested innocent individuals. From one of these they even extracted a half a confession.
In other words, in rounding up the “usual suspects,” the Shin Bet managed to find one poor shnook they decided was guilty and managed to get him to confess. The only problem: the poor guy, wanting to end the torture, confessed. As Michael Kaminer suggested in his Facebook comment, the Palestinian didn’t know precisely what his interrogators wanted to hear. Otherwise, it would’ve been a full confession. And had the crime actually been real, they likely would’ve wasted precious hours interrogating an innocent man.
The whole thing reminded an Israeli friend of an old joke:
Three spy agencies, the FBI, KGB and Shin Bet, had a contest: who could be first to capture a fox in a dense forest.
The first fox was released. Tens of FBI agents entered the forest with helicopters and sensors. Within four hours they returned with the fox.
The second fox was released. The KGB sent ten agents with eavesdropping equipment and within three hours the agents returned with wide smiles on their lips and with the fox in hand.
The third fox was released. Two Shin Bet agents wearing sunglasses entered the dark woods. After two hours they came out with a squirrel: “Under interrogation, he confessed he was a fox!”
Silverstein has published Tikun Olam since 2003, It exposes the secrets of the Israeli national security state. He lives in Seattle, but his heart is in the east. He publishes regularly at Middle East Eye, the New Arab, and Jacobin Magazine. His work has also appeared in Al Jazeera English, The Nation, Truthout and other outlets.