Both left and right-wingers hailed a decision by an Israeli court to throw out parts of confessions provided by two Israelis suspected of a murdering a Palestinian family because they were obtained through torture. The shared satisfaction across political camps is rare. It is also flawed and worrying.
Both left-wing and right-wing voices lauded an Israeli court on Tuesday for throwing out parts of the confessions provided by two Israeli Jews suspected of a lethal terror attack against a Palestinian family, because they were obtained through torture. In the middle of the night in August 2015, attackers set fire to the Dawabshe family home in Duma, outside Nablus. Both parents, Saed and Riham Dawabshe, and their baby son, Ali, were burned to death. Ahmed, four at the time, suffered severe burns, and has required extensive surgeries and rehabilitation.
The shared satisfaction across political camps about the ruling is rare; it is also flawed and worrying. Why?
The Public Committee Against Torture in Israel (PCATI), a tireless human rights organization, broke with its usual statements of outrage to issue a rare positive response.
Throwing out the confessions is “commendable,” PCATI wrote, noting that “[t]he judgment also clearly stated that ‘necessity interrogations’ are a severe violation of basic human rights, and as such disqualify their products.”
Physicians for Human Rights — Israel, another dogged human rights organization, gave a similarly enthusiastic response decrying the use of torture in any form.
Meanwhile Haim Shain, a right-wing commentator for the pro-Netanyahu Israel Hayom newspaper, wrote: “A freedom-seeking democracy should not allow interrogators to employ any means without limits or proportionality to reveal the truth. It is obliged to find the appropriate balance between protecting human dignity and the right of the public to live secure from criminals and terrorists…” Such words would make any human rights organization proud.
And in fact, supporters of human rights should laud the court’s decision. This was different from the horror scenes of Abu Ghraib, which represented a total breakdown of command and pornographic levels of torture. Rather, Israel’s internal security agency (Shin Bet) had prior legal approval from the attorney general to use “special methods,” which reportedly included forcing suspects to hold painful positions for long hours. The exact nature of the interrogation tactics have not been made public.
In 1999, the Israeli High Court outlawed the use of torture but left a loophole for suspects who...Read More