Israeli Court Rules Interrogators Can Shake Terrorism Suspect


Israel’s Supreme Court ruled Thursday that physical force is allowable in the interrogation of a suspected terrorist.

The court said Israel’s security service, Shin Bet, can use violent shaking in the questioning of Abed Belbaysi, a Palestinian from the Jabaliya refugee camp in the Gaza Strip, because it is convinced he has information about future terrorist attacks.

Human rights groups define violent shaking as life-threatening torture.

In a six-page ruling, the court said it does not intend Thursday’s decision as a precedent. But Belbaysi’s attorney, Andre Rosenthal, said he fears the ruling will encourage interrogators to shake suspects. One Palestinian is believed to have died last year as the result of being shaken during interrogation.


“All the cases that will be brought before the court in the future will be looked at with this decision in mind,” said Rosenthal. “It is a wrong decision.

“It is part of the trend in which the Israeli legal system and the establishment will always find an excuse to do things that are inadmissible on the grounds of security and that human lives are at stake,” he said.

Rosenthal won an injunction on Dec. 24 ordering the Shin Bet to stop shaking Belbaysi unless it could show just cause for doing so. Rosenthal presented the court with an affidavit from Belbaysi at the time, swearing that he was not a member of Islamic Jihad and had not carried out terrorist attacks.

But last Friday, Belbaysi confessed to his interrogators that he is a member of the militant Islamic group--and one of the planners of a January 1995 suicide bomb attack on a bus stop frequented by Israeli soldiers. Twenty-one people died in that attack.

Belbaysi confessed to building three bombs for the attack and reportedly led his interrogators to a still-hidden bomb last week.

In asking the three-judge panel of the high court to remove the injunction barring the agency from shaking Belbaysi, the Shin Bet argued it had reason to believe Belbaysi knows about future attacks planned inside Israel by Islamic Jihad.


Rosenthal did not dispute that contention but argued that Belbaysi could be made to reveal the information without being shaken.

“He confessed to participation in [the bombing at] Beit Lid [the bus stop junction] without shaking, so they do not need to shake him,” Rosenthal said Thursday, after the injunction was lifted. The judges’ decision can be appealed to a larger Supreme Court panel.

Islamic Jihad, which rejects the September 1993 Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement, has vowed to destroy the accord by attacking Israelis.

It has carried out a string of deadly suicide bombing attacks on Israeli civilians and soldiers.

In April 1995, Abd Samad Salman Harizat, a suspected activist in the militant Islamic movement Hamas, was shaken to death during a Shin Bet interrogation.

Harizat’s death embarrassed the Shin Bet, but then-Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin said violent interrogations were sometimes necessary to prevent terrorist attacks.