Duma: The False Accusation
The cynical abuse of Roman Zadarov, serving a life prison sentence for a murder that he apparently did not commit, is nothing compared to what is happening now with Amiram Oliel.
These are the main points of the story:
On the 15th of Av 5775 (July 2015) two homes in the Arab village of Duma were set on fire. A couple and their son were killed. Graffiti saying “Revenge” and “Long live the king Mashiach” were found scrawled on the buildings.
The President and Prime Minister immediately determined that this was an act of Jewish terror, the media was ecstatic and the GSS energetically embarked on a manhunt after “hilltop youth” to apprehend the guilty party. When no evidence was found, the media began to criticize the Defense Minister at the time, Bogi Ya’alon, saying that when it came to Jewish terror, Israel’s security services were dragging their feet. Bogi publicized an announcement, bragging that the security services knew who the murderers were, but had not yet arrested them in order not to reveal hidden sources.
Following that, a complaint was filed with the High Court to obligate him to arrest the criminals. Bogi had to provide an answer, the system was under pressure and began arresting young ‘hilltop youth’. These boys, arrested with no evidence against them, were interrogated under torture and were not allowed to see an attorney. Obviously, this torture had no legal justification – these boys were not ticking time bombs – but when give an excuse to justify torture of hilltop youth, the media and High Court - the ‘guardians’ of democracy- turn into the Dobermans of dictatorship. In this way, human rights in Israel deteriorated to an unprecedented low.
There was, of course, good reason to examine other motives and directions, such as the fact that four homes in Duma were burned in the months preceding this incident and another home was burned in the month following the incident. But for some reason, nobody investigated those acts of arson. The residents of Duma seem to have a hobby of burning their neighbors’ homes and it is possible that they had already learned how to write graffiti in Hebrew (as was the case, for example, in the Hassan Bek mosque and in other places).
But let us return to the story.
The parents of the tortured youth and many people from the Religious Zionist public began to rebel against the bits and pieces of information about the youth being tortured. There were public protests, angry articles in the sector publications – things began to sizzle. And then, with great “courage and responsibility”, the leader of the Religious Zionists, Naftali Bennett declared:
“Do you want the roof to fall in on us? Who do you believe? Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked? Or rightist attorney Itamar Ben Gvir?”
Bennett did not want to stand up to the evil winds blowing from the media and defend his constituents. Instead, he allowed the gang rape to proceed – and even joined in.
But Bennett is not the story.
The story is that nothing came of all the ‘ticking time bombs’ and severe torture. The only person indicted in the Duma incident was Amiram Ben Oliel, who is now in his third year of incarceration under conditions reserved for terrorists.
Under unspeakable torture, the GSS extracted a ridiculous confession from Ben Oliel – so ridiculous that the court refused to accept it. Nevertheless, those who know that it would be impossible to leave the GSS and the prosecution empty-handed, employed a legal trick in which the court accepted the same confession made by Ben Oliel 36 hours after his confession under torture. Just that this confession, which according to the court was made of his free will, was made – according to court records – only after the representative of the GSS entered the interrogation room. It is easy to understand that the GSS man’s threatening presence was what ‘convinced’ Ben Oliel to confess of his own ‘free will’.
But that is not the end of the story. The GSS got stuck with a confession that is illogical and does not fit in with any of the testimony in the Duma file. According to witnesses, there were at least two people at the scene of the crime. There was also a car, about which some of those arrested were interrogated. All of that disappeared from the indictment. According to the indictment, Amiram Ben Oliel is a superman, performing amazing feats all by himself. He sets two homes ablaze at the same time, writes two different graffiti slogans on the two homes and perhaps even dresses up as two different people. In the end he runs away on foot, without leaving any evidence at all that connects him to the crime.
Just like Zadarov, it is impossible to free Ben Oliel because that would be an admission of the system’s evil. But it will also be very difficult to convict him, as Chaim Levinson wrote in the extreme Left Ha’aretz newspaper, because nothing in the indictment connects to anything else.
So, like Zadarov, Ben Oliel will continue to rot in prison – with two differences: One, Oliel underwent severe torture and now he is also being abused in unbearable conditions. He is in solitary confinement, his wife and four-year-old daughter meet him once a week for half an hour from behind a glass partition. He is allowed to hug his daughter for only a few minutes.The second difference is that Zadarov was already convicted. Amiram Ben Oliel’s trial will be starting this month. Public pressure may bring about a retrial for Zadarov and may not. By contrast, public pressure for Amiram may prevent a severe verdict, which would have no basis other than an illogical confession extracted under torture.
To be continued…