Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

5 Tishrei 5760 - September 15, 1999 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly








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Opinion & Comment
Let Beilin Do the Interrogating

by S. Yisraeli

The decision prohibiting the General Security Service from using any forms of physical pressure and other means deemed illegal has elicited sharp criticism from the security establishment.

State Attorney General Elyakim Rubinstein has indicated that he would begin to formulate legislation to define what methods may be employed by interrogators to provide a framework within the law for their continued operations.

Justice Minister Yossi Beilin, who hailed the decision, opposes the attorney general's plans. Beilin called the decision a much needed and overdo step in Israel's "modern- day democratic society."

Former senior security establishment officials have indicated the decision, which was handed down by a special nine-justice panel of the High Court, will impede the security agency's ability to extract information from terrorists and thereby, limit its ability to prevent planned terrorist attacks.

Some legislators denounced the judges as being out of touch with reality. They warned that the decision sent exactly the wrong message at a time when terrorism is on the rise. National Union MK Hanan Porat sarcastically suggested that the burden of protecting the nation from terror fall in the laps of the High Court justices. MK Rechavam Ze'evi, also of the National Union, warned that the court has tied the hands of the GSS.

MK Ruby Rivlin, chairman of the Likud caucus in the Knesset, said he planned to introduce legislation to allow the attorney general or other senior government figure or agency to permit the General Security Service to use moderate physical force during the interrogation of prisoners with suspected knowledge of planned terrorist attacks.

He charged that the High Court decision protects the murderers instead of the intended victims.

The GSS has always maintained that certain methods were employed when it was a matter of preventing terrorist attacks and the interrogations dealt with saving innocent lives.

There were some voices who praised the ruling, though not without a heavy dose of irony. Elyakim Haetzni, of Kiryat Arba, who once served as an MK for the now-defunct right-wing Techiya party, said Israelis should welcome the "tightening of the leash on an otherwise undisciplined and morally- questionable organization."

"After Judge Landau permitted the use of force 12 years ago, one has to ask why the Supreme Court saw fit to now limit that power. The law hasn't changed, and the terror is the same terror. My explanation is that the leadership and officers of the GSS have proven, over the past few years, in case after case, that they are not trustworthy," he said.

Specifically, Haetzni noted the Bus 300 incident in 1984, in which two Arab terrorists were killed by GSS agents, whose superiors then falsified evidence and lied. He also called attention that the GSS had a hand in incriminating settlers in the September 1995 murder of an Arab from Halhoul.

After the radio reported the killing, a Jewish group calling itself Eyal claimed responsibility for the act. It was later shown that the killing had been carried out by Arabs, and that there was no Eyal organization. It was a total fabrication, the work of GSS agent-provocateur Avishai Raviv with the intention of exacerbating public sentiment against the right-wing.

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