The story of the Israeli security apparatus’ handling of the Dawabshe murder case is beyond pathetic. It’s outright malfeasance, if not criminal negligence. The Shabak has known who murdered them almost since the family died in an arson attack in the village of Duma near Nablus (killing the mother, father, and baby boy and leaving alive one orphaned son). But it refused to pursue the case. Why? The defense minister claimed that doing so would expose intelligence methods and compromise sources.
I learned from a confidential source that this meant that there was a Shabak undercover agent among the conspirators. But it was much more complicated and troubling than that. The undercover agent actually betrayed the security agency in much the same way that Avishai Raviv did when he goaded Yigal Amir to assassinate Yitzhak Rabi and “neglected” to tell his bosses of the killer’s plans. In other words, the Shabak’s man inside the conspiracy knew about the plans for the arson attack and may even have incited it himself. Yet, he never told his handlers about it, leaving three innocent Palestinians dead as a result.
You can imagine this would cause a black eye for the entire agency and especially for the Jewish terror division, which ran the undercover spy. This unit already has an atrocious reputation for not solving crimes involving Jewish suspects. In fact, I’d say it’s almost the job of this unit NOT to solve such crimes.
As a result, the security apparatus went into CYA mode. It refused to pursue the case at all. It put a few settler leaders under administrative detention. Among them Meir Ettinger, Meir Kahane’s grandson, whom the Shabak said was the architect of the plot (though not a participant).
Though the secret police now claim they’re about to solve the case, there is only one reason for this, and it has nothing to do with any technical or legal issues. The only reason there is any action is because two petitions have been filed before the Supreme Court demanding that the Attorney General and Defense Minister be held responsible for refusing to prosecute. One petition was filed by Meretz MK Issawi Freij and the second by members of the Israeli-Palestinian Joint List Knesset faction. The latter petition argued that there can be no preference given to protecting intelligence sources over doing what is just; nor a preference given to administrative detention over a judicial proceeding open to the entire public. The petitioners reminded the court of their opposition to the use of administrative detention against Palestinian and Jewish prisoners.
Undoubtedly, the State prosecutor told the cabinet officers that if they refused to proceed the Supreme Court would likely hold them in contempt of court. To avoid the chastisement they’ve now assured the public with a great flourish that the crime will be solved.
The reports linked in the above paragraph both note that there are secret developments under gag order, which Israeli media may not report. But guess who can report them? Thanks to a well-informed Israeli source (confirmed by this Facebook post by a settler defense committee), I can say the information under gag is that two suspects who are members of the most extremist settler faction, the Hilltop Youth, have been arrested. One is Elisha Odess (pictured here), age 17, and the other, Hanoch Ganiram. Ganiram’s grandfather, Yitzhak, was a member of the Jewish Underground, a settler terror group which planted bombs which severely wounded several senior West Bank political leaders in the 1980s. Apparently, the rotten apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. Now grandfather and grandson each have something to take pride in: they’ve murdered innocent Palestinians in cold blood and gotten away with it.
Odess lives in an illegal outpost associated with Kfar Tapuach, one of the most violent settlements, which has cultivated other Israeli mass murderers like Eden Natan Zada. Ganiram is from another settlement known for violence, Homesh.
If you understand Hebrew and want to hear what the mother of a Jewish terrorist sounds like, listen to a lecture Ganiram’s mother gave (6th audio program from the top) on a Kol Yisrael radio program about “keeping faith in the midst of everyday life.” Considering her son destroyed a Palestinian family and home, it’s painfully irony that the name of this radio program is “The Jewish Home” (no connection to the political party, Bayit Yehudi).
These arrests are under gag order and may not reported in the Israeli press. Though oddly, the Israeli court system published on its website information about a hearing for Ganiram on November 29th (without particulars of the charges against him).
It’s important to add that these arrests mean very little unless all the murderers are brought to justice. That means convicted and sentenced to long prison terms and not pardoned by a future President, as most Jewish terrorists are. As an aside, the murderers of Mohammed Abu Khdeir were just convicted of burning the 16-year-old East Jerusalem boy to death in a heinous act of Jewish terror a few years ago. In an interesting aside, the actual murderer, a moment before his guilt was declared, provided the court an affidavit claiming insanity. When the judges hearing the case agreed to consider the opinion (which they had no obligation to do under law), the architect of the crime was not convicted, while his two accomplices were.
It is common practice for Jewish terrorists to claim insanity. Israeli judges like to have the option of declaring Jewish suspects not terrorists, but mentally ill. This defense was tried unsuccessfully in the Jack Teitel case and successfully in the Julien Soufir case.
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.