NOTE: I would like to offer full identification of the Shabak officer, N., responsible for the pending death of Samer al-Arbid. If you have any such information, please contact me.
A few years ago, the Shabak determined that its traditional male-dominated hierarchy needed to change with the times. Women were recruited, given opportunities for advancement and rose up the ranks. One of the major benefactors of this new approach is an officer named N. News reports have given her the pseudonym, “Nurit.” She and her unit specialize in ‘interrogating’ (a polite word for beating the crap out of them) Palestinian security suspects. She is so “good” at her job that she was recently promoted from the equivalent Shabak rank of Major to Lt. Colonel.
A month ago, a rabbi and his daughter were attacked with a bomb at a West Bank oasis. The rabbi was injured and his daughter, Rina Shnerb died. The Israeli police and Shabak have been hunting for the perpetrators since then. A few weeks ago, they arrested the suspect who they believed was the ringleader of the attack, Samer al-Arbid. He’s a senior commander, according to Israeli news reports. of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP). However, they did not have sufficient evidence to hold him in detention and a judge refused to extend his remand. The prisoner was released. This certainly angered the Shin Bet. They don’t want anyone to escape their clutches. Especially not through what they would consider a legal loophole.
The Shabak claims it developed new evidence and Border Police special forces rearrested him. It claims that when they did, they found a bomb prepared for a terror attack in his possession. During interrogation, he didn’t fare as well as his first detention. An Israeli security source informed me that Nurit’s unit questioned the suspect. Her goons worked him over and caused grave injuries:
Addameer’s lawyer was informed by a phone call from one of the interrogators at al-Mascobiyya that Arabeed was transferred to Hadassah Hospital in Jerusalem. The lawyer was also informed that Arabeed was in critical condition and that was unconscious and on artificial respiration.
… Addameer’s lawyer, after being allowed to see Arabeed in hospital for a short period of time, said he was unconscious and had several broken ribs and marks all over his body. He also was suffering from a severe kidney failure.
WAFA also adds that he suffered a pulmonary hemorrhage. You can imagine the kind of blows that would cause kidney failure, lung damage, and putting a man in a man in a coma. You can imagine this man will be permanently disabled if he even survives. And you can imagine how he will be lionized by Palestinians for making the ultimate sacrifice. And you can imagine how many youth will want to emulate his example. And you can imagine how this fuels endless hatred and violence. But how does it make Israel more secure?
My guess is that the Border Police, known for their brutality, might have begun the process as soon as they captured him.
“This isn’t like Guantanamo [ed., he meant Abu Ghraib], explained N., once a senior interrogator who was authorized to engage in “special methods” (i.e. torture). We don’t force the suspect to stand naked when it is minus 10 degrees, he added.
…Slaps were the first type of “special method” which N. recounted. According to him, the sharpness of the slap isn’t the of the highest possible strength. But rather measured, because the purpose is not the damage the sensitive organs like the nose, ears, back, lips.
…He explained that blindfolding a suspect is a form of restraint so that the detainee will not be able to anticipate the slap and move his head so that critical parts of the body will not be injured.
…The regulations stipulated…that only very senior officials could permit the use of these methods, and that any interrogator who used them must keep a detailed record of the number of blows, the painful positions and all other so-called special means used. In addition, the attorney general must be informed after every use of such methods.
Another interrogator who participated in the conversation with N. explained his understanding of these regulations: If an interrogator thinks using such methods can prevent a life-threatening terror attack, he’ll use them to obtain the needed information.
Normally, he added, the interrogator must request permission from his superiors to use these methods. But in urgent cases – like a suicide bomber who’s planning to blow himself up imminently – the interrogator can use these methods even without obtaining permission.
There are major misconceptions about torture in the context of security investigations. Adding women to the ranks of Shabak officers does not necessarily bring a new perspective or added benefit to the force. In fact, it proves that women, when placed in a position of authority within an organization engaged in collective brutality, will themselves become brutal. Promoting women will not give the organization cover when it turns to the courts and claims that its women agents would never engage in the same heinous acts of their male counterparts. Though it’s likely it will try to exploit this strategem.
Second, the al-Arbid incident shows that the Shabak is the same brutal, thuggish outfit it has always been. Yes, there was once an infamous ruling which made a mockery of the rule of law by supposedly outlawing torture…except in certain extenuating circumstances. Among them was the apprehension of a suspect who was a “ticking bomb.” That is, someone who was planning or in the midst of executing a terror attack.
The Shabak claims al-Arbid had an explosive device in his possession when arrested. But that’s a convenient claim since it would let the thug who put him into a coma off the hook if the case was ever brought before a court. No Israeli judge, no matter how disgusted with the interrogator’s thuggery, would find such an individual guilty of any crime. And that is how Israeli state-sanctioned torture continues unabated in the “only democracy in the Middle East.” As for Nurit, this episode will probably earn her another promotion given the rotten system in which she operates.
Third, all scientific and psychological research points to the fact that torture simply doesn’t work as a means of extracting truthful information from suspects. The victim eventually wants the torture to end and will use the questioning to ascertain what the interrogator wants to know or hear. He will offer it in hopes the beatings will cease. Not to mention that hardened Palestinian militants expect this treatment. They either will resist and risk death as al-al-Arbid did, or they will offer false information. To such an individual the cause of Palestinian freedom is much more important than his individual life (and this is no different for a Palestinian resistance fighter today or a Jewish resistance fighter in 1943), no matter how much suffering he is forced to endure. I wrote this post about such a suspect who “half-confessed” to such a murder. The only reason he didn’t offer a full confession is that he incorrectly identified key elements of the killing, which he didn’t know.
⚠️Trigger Warning: Torture, Rape⚠️
The #torture of terrorism suspects by the Shin Bet continues uninterrupted & w/o oversight.
The latest victim is Samer Al-al-al-Arbid who was hospitalized in critical condition after an interrogation by the Shin Bet.
— Omer Katz / عومر كاتس (@the_drow) September 29, 2019
Here’s a very useful Twitter thread by Israeli activist Omer Katz on the history of Shabak torture. Shabak use of torture is part and parcel of the Israeli national security state, which sacrifices human rights and the rule of law on the sacred altar of security. Such a country has abandoned all its values, if it ever had any. No longer a democracy. No longer a member of the family of western democratic nations. Instead, it placed Israel within the ranks of some of the most repressive societies on the planet.