News Nosh: June 19, 2018

APN's daily news review from Israel
Tuesday June 19, 2018
 
Quote of the day:
"Apparently, the special measures used against the suspects were not more extreme than those used against Arab suspects in terrorism who were convicted following their confessions - which were allowed by the court."
--Maariv's Avishai Greenzweig gives an in-depth look at the dramatic question the court faces today about the admissibility of confessions made by two Jewish terrorists in the arson murders of the Dawabsheh family.**

Front Page:
Haaretz
Yedioth Ahronoth
  • Prisoner X: Gonen Segev accused of transferring information to Teheran - Doctor, government minister, “Iranian spy”
  • What could he reveal? // Ronen Bergman
  • Israeli tragedy // Yoaz Hendel
  • Watermelon is expensive
  • Do you have $150,000? YOu can receive a legal work visa in the US
Maariv This Week (Hebrew links only)
  • Top spy
  • Those should be our worst problems // Ben Caspit
  • Spying and serious treason // Yossi Melman
  • Mother of infants: “Everyone was partner to the violent behavior in the nursery school”
Israel Hayom

News Summary:
A former minister and convicted drug smuggler was accused of spying for Iran, a US official accused Israel of being behind the bombing yesterday in Syria that killed dozens of pro-regime fighters, and the suspense ahead of the decision today whether the confessions under duress of the Jewish terrorists from the Duma murders will be considered admissible were top stories along with the latest on Gaza, including the cause behind a ‘mysterious explosion on the fence’ yesterday, were top stories in the Hebrew newspapers today.

Also in the news, Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu took a secret flight to Amman Monday afternoon to meet with Jordanian King Abdullah and discuss peace and regional developments. This was their first public meeting since 2014, showing an improvement of relations between the two countries.

The arrest of former Energy minister, Gonen Segev, 62, came as a shock to the security and political establishments. Segev allegedly had been spying for Iran for six years and traveled twice to Iran to meet his handlers. Maariv’s Yossi Melman has an insightful and interesting look at the story. (See translation in Commentary/Analysis below.) The gist of the analyses was that Segev probably could not do Israel much intel damage, because did not have many secrets to share, but the damage was in the status - the fact that someone who once had a high rank in the Israeli government served the Iranian Republic to harm Israel. Melman explains partly why.

Maariv reported that a ‘mysterious explosion’ occurred at the Karni Crossing between the Gaza Strip and Israel, which was the cause of the killing of a 24-year-old Palestinian man and the injury of four others with him, whom the IDF accused of trying to cross to destroy infrastructure. Ynet reported that it was a ‘booby trap’ planted by the Israeli military, which exploded as the five attempted to cross. According to Ynet, this is a new method to prevent Palestinians from trying to cross the fence or damage it and numerous such explosive traps are now studding the Gaza fence. But that doesn’t deter burning kite launchers or prevent the fires they start. Early Monday morning Israeli planes carried out airstrikes on nine ‘Hamas targets’ in Gaza (video from Gaza), to pressure Hamas to stop the kite launchers, after which some Palestinians responded with three rockets. No injuries were reported on either side. Maariv reported that in a closed meeting, the head of Southern Command, Brig. Gen. Ofer Levy, told Knesset members that the IDF wants to kill kite launchers, “but there is a legal problem.” According to the Israel Public Broadcasting Company he said, "If we shoot some of them, it will end the story. They aren’t children.” Later in the day, a Palestinian boy died of his wounds from IDF bullets to his stomach two weeks earlier, and in the evening Israel made a second strike on Hamas targets, claiming Hamas had launched burning balloons into Israeli territory. The UN Secretary General expressed ‘shock’ at Israel’s use of live fire on Palestinians at the Gaza fence protests and said that Gaza and Israel were at the bring of war. Antonio Guterres also accused Hamas and other militant groups of risking Palestinian and Israeli lives and urged everyone to recommit to the 2014 cease-fire. Meanwhile, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas rejected the Trump plan to get Gulf States to pay to rehabilitate Gaza, saying it was an attempt to divide Palestinians by causing further tension between Hamas and the Fatah-run Palestinian Authority.

*Today a district court rules on a dramatic question: whether the confessions of the two main defendants, both Jewish, in the 2014 triple arson murder of the Dawabsheh family from the Palestinian village of Duma were illegally extracted through the means of 'torture.' The main suspect admitted to the murder and even reenacted giving the police details it did not have. Maariv's Avishai Greenzweig wrote the most in-depth piece on the subject, which had two important points: 1.) Israeli law has never defined what acts are considered torture, so it is almost meaningless to say that torture was not used in the course of the interrogation, if indeed it was. (He noted: "All along the way, the Shin Bet and the State Attorney's Office were willing to say what was not done or what the wrong definition was, but refused to address the really important question: What measures did the interrogators use to extract a confession from the detainees?") Secondly, he noted that "Apparently, the special measures used against the suspects were not more extreme than those used against Arab suspects in terrorism who were convicted following their confessions - which were allowed by the court." [NOTE: There was no mention in the Haaretz article that the same measures are used against Palestinians without any question of their admissibility. - OH] The two suspects, Amiram Ben Uliel and an unnamed minor, said that they gave the confessions in 2015 following painful physical pressure, such as binding hands and feet and leaning the lower back on a chair, or prolonged uncomfortable kneeling. Greenzweig wrote that "The decision to use 'special means,' as they are called by the Shin Bet, was not easy, and the use of these means is not uncommon in the case of security service investigators, but this was the first and last time the organization has used them against Jews suspected of terrorism. The decision was made jointly with then-Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein and senior officials in his ministry, and senior Shin Bet officials, who were pressured by the political echelon to solve the Duma attack. (However,) there is no legal permit to take these steps in order to decipher a crime, however grave. They can only be used to thwart a 'ticking bomb.' Therefore, the heads of the Shin Bet gave up on their demand. But the months passed and real progress in deciphering the murder was not achieved. The breakthrough came on November 20, 2015: two Jewish minors decided to carry out a revenge attack against Palestinians in the wake of murderous terror attacks carried out at the time. The two arrived at the village of Mazra al-Qibliya, north of Ramallah, and threw two incendiary Molotov cocktails at one of the houses in the village while the family was sleeping. It is now clear that there was no connection between the perpetrators of the attack in Duma and the throwers of Molotov cocktails in the village of Mizra al-Qibliya. In any case, the green light for use of special means came from the Ministry of Justice, and after a week of preparations and preparations, the organization arrested a number of hilltop youth activists [violent far-right- wing settler youth - OH] suspected of price-tag attacks, including Amiram Ben Uliel and A. (the minor). The investigation was subject to total blackout, gag orders were issued and the suspects were forbidden to meet a lawyer...Due to complexity of the case, the Shin Bet interrogators waited 17 days to intensify the interrogations, and during those days Ben-Uliel remained silent in interrogations and refused to cooperate, and A. maintained the right to remain silent and refused to answer questions until the decision was made to go up a step. Shortly after they allegedly used torture during their interrogation, Ben-Uliel confessed to the murder and even provided details that linked him to the incident, but that wasn't enough for the Shin Bet. Ben-Uliel claimed that he acted alone, but two witnesses insisted that they saw two settlers throwing Molotov cocktails at the Dawabshe family home. The Shin Bet security service was convinced that A. took an active part in the murder and therefore continued its intensive interrogations, but Ben-Uliel stuck to his version. Meanwhile, A. underwent three rounds of serious interrogations. At first, the minor admitted that he had planned the attack with Ben-Uliel and intended to carry it out together, but that he had fallen asleep. Later he changed his mind and said that he had carried out the attack together with Ben-Uliel. However, the details of A.'s confession complicated the evidentiary basis formulated by the Shin Bet and the State Prosecutor's Office, and they decided not to accept the second confession and not to put A. on trial for his participation in the murder, but only on his planning. The indictment explicitly states that even though the two wanted to perpetrate the attack together, the preliminary planning failed, A. did not reach the meeting point and Ben-Uliel decided to carry out the attack alone, contradicting the testimonies of the local residents, who were witnesses. However, Shin Bet interrogators who conducted the case explicitly say in internal discussions that they are certain that the attack was carried out by two people and that 'A. was a full partner in the act.' The case is apparently closed. It appears that the special measures used against the suspects were not more extreme than those used against Arab suspects in terrorism who were convicted following their confession - which was accepted in court. The State Attorney's Office is prepared to waive the confessions made by the accused by force, and will apparently make do with the confessions that were subsequently issued without special means and in a more relaxed atmosphere. However, the Duma affair nevertheless constitutes a legal precedent: it will be the first time that a suspect in terrorism who was used against him by special means has refused to give the confession to the police investigators, and has even claimed in real time to the police interrogator that he had admitted to an act that he did not do only because of the intensity of the interrogations. (Maariv) Hussein Dawabsheh, the grandfather who takes care of the only survivor, eight-year-old Ahmed, told Yedioth he hoped to be allowed to attend the trial with Ahmed so that the "judges will look at Ahmed in the eyes and see the pain of this child. I really hope the court will do justice and end this affair, which has continued for an extensive period of time."
 
Quick Hits:
  • Palestinian boy shot by Israel during Gaza protests dies of wounds, Palestinians say - Zakariya Bashbash, 13, was severely injured two weeks ago by a bullet to his stomach in clashes on the border between protesters and Israeli security and hospitalized. (Haaretz and Maan)
  • Israeli forces assault Palestinian farmers, confiscate crops in Hebron  -Israeli forces attacked Palestinian farmers and confiscated their crops, which they were selling on the main road between the Jerusalem and Hebron districts, near Beir Ummar village on Monday. Much of Beit Umar is under Arab B, Palestinian civilian control, but the main road is under Area A, full Israeli control. (Maan)
  • Judge Rules Against Stripping Israeli Citizenship of Perpetrator of 2012 Tel Aviv Bus Bombing - Citizenship should be revoked only in extreme cases, the judge says in ruling against then-Interior Minister Silvan Shalom's 2015 request. (Haaretz+)
  • Israeli forces detain al-Aqsa guard while settlers raid compound - As groups of Israeli settlers raided and toured Al-Aqsa compound, Israeli forces prevented the head of the compound’s security, Abdullah Abu Taleb, from following the Israeli settlers' and forced the guard to stand behind Israeli special forces. Afterward they took him to the Chain Gate detention center. (Maan)
  • Arab Knesset member attends terror groups’ event - Joint List leader MK Ayman Odeh participated in a conference in east Jerusalem focusing on  issue of Jerusalem as capital of  state of Palestine, organized by PLFP and DFLP, which Israel considers terrorist organizations, hours after police issued prohibition order against the event. ‘Jerusalem will forever remain the capital of Palestine,’ Odeh declares as police arrive to stop the conference from going ahead. (Yedioth/Ynet)
  • ‘Muezzin Law’ Lacking Support, but Lawmakers to Ask Police for Tough Noise Enforcement - Instead, MKs likely to make do with calling on police to step up enforcement of existing noise laws. (Haaretz+)
  • Following international pressure, Netanyahu puts off demolition of illegal Palestinian homes - After hundreds of police officers and soldiers were recruited to evacuate and demolish five illegal structures in the Palestinian village of Khirbet Susya in South Mount Hebron, an order arrived from the Prime Minister’s Office to postpone the operation, likely due to the upcoming visit of US President Trump’s Mideast envoy and special advisor this weekend. (Yedioth/Ynet)
  • Status of 'occupied' Jerusalem in royal itinerary angers Israeli minister - Jerusalem affairs minister Zeev Elkin wrote on Facebook Monday that a 'distortion' cannot 'change reality.’ (Agencies, Haaretz and Ynet)
  • During the day they study in Petah Tikva, at night they dream of Tehran - On Monday, 45 students took the matriculation exam in the Iranian studies, security and intelligence track. This is a unique program at Ben-Gurion High School in Petah Tikva, where Persian culture is also taught. (Maariv)
  • Precedent: IDF plans new neighborhood for Druze career soldiers in the Carmel - The army's residential directorate will set up a neighborhood for Druze officers and soldiers, and has already purchased land in the settlement of Daliyat al-Carmel to build 186 detached houses. (Maariv)
  • Jewish man sold 20,000 fireworks to be shot at security forces - Business owner from Kiryat Ono arrested for selling NIS 103,500 worth of fireworks to an east Jerusalem man aware of his intentions to harm security forces and Jewish locals. Lawyer of suspected intermediary: “We’re talking about a legal affair which has been blown out of proportion by the Israel Police.” (Ynet)
  • Masked Men Fire Automatic Rifles While Driving Through Northern Israeli Village - Act of intimidation part of dispute between families in Tuba Zangaria, say police. (Haaretz+)
  • Dozens of munitions from before the establishment of the State of Israel were found in a slick in the Carmel - A pile of grenades, charges, and more were discovered by a passerby who saw them poking through the ground. Police sappers were called to the scene to deal with the rusty weapons. (Maariv)
  • How Netanyahu Got Trump to Sign Off on Israel's Nuclear Arsenal Amid the Flynn Scandal - Trump became the fourth U.S. president to uphold the decades-long pledge not to press Israel to give up its nuclear weapons, The New Yorker reports. (Haaretz and Ynet)
  • Ultra-Orthodox Party Faction 'Won’t Back' Current Version of Contested IDF Draft Bill Rocking Netanyahu's Government - Netanyahu wants to reach an agreement on the bill within two weeks and pass it by the end of the Knesset’s summer session, in five weeks. (Haaretz and Ynet)
  • What Arthur Miller Thought About Netanyahu, the Settlements and Women - Correspondence to an Israeli friend reveals the playwright’s deep awareness of events in Israel, even in his final years. The letters will be auctioned off in Jerusalem on Tuesday. (Haaretz+)
  • WATCH Israeli Embassy creates video supporting Argentina’s World Cup soccer team -In a less supportive gesture, Israel's defense minister trolled Argentina on Twitter, suggesting they needed the warm-up after only tying Iceland. (JTA, Haaretz)
  • Top cop attributes spike in south Tel Aviv violence to detention center closures - Chief Superintendent Tzachi Sharabi tells Internal Affairs Committee first half of 2018 has witnessed dozens more instances of violent crime committed by illegal African migrants than the same time frame last year, cites closure of Saharonim Prison and Holot detention facility as reason; rising violence also said caused by feud between supporters and opponents of Eritrean regime. (Ynet)
  • Israel doesn't differentiate between Eritrean regime supporters and critics - As a result, authorities do not know whether Eritreans would be at risk if repatriated. (Haaretz+)
  • Amnesty International: Israel, Uganda deceiving asylum seekers - Drawing on 30 interviews with asylum seekers who 'voluntarily' left Israel, rights group claims Eritrean and Sudanese refugees were given false information, abandoned once in Uganda by Israeli authorities and were often forced into giving their consent to leaving the country. (Yedioth/Ynet)
  • Egyptian fuel prices spike as austerity measures come into effect - As part of economic reforms and austerity measures, Egypt's Sissi has increased the price of gas, fuel and travel fares. (Agencies, Haaretz)
  • Turkey, U.S. Begin 'Independently' Patrolling Syria's Manbij - Ankara has been infuriated by U.S. support for the Kurdish YPG militia - which it views as a terrorist organisation. (Agencies, Haaretz)
  • Saudi-led Coalition Continues to Pound Houthis Around Airport of Major Yemen Port - The Western-backed Arab alliance launched an onslaught on Hodeidah six days ago in order to turn the tables in a long stalemated, proxy war between Saudi Arabia and Iran. (Agencies, Haaretz)
  • As War Rages, Iran Says 'Military Approach in Yemen Will Fail' - Rohani says 'crisis in Yemen should be resolved through political channels' in phone call with Qatar Emir. (Agencies, Haaretz)
  • Turkey, Iran Help Qatar Thrive, One Year Into Saudi-led Blockade - With the highest per-capita income in the world, the tiny country weathers the severance of ties with key Arab nations. (Agencies, Haaretz)


Features:
Gaza's Flaming Kites: The Japanese Invented Them in World War II
It is believed the Japanese launched more than 9,000 hydrogen-filled balloons, starting Nov. 3, 1944, of which only a small percentage actually made it to land. About 300 bombs were detected, but most landed in remote areas, and as late as 2014 unexploded bombs were being found in western Canada. (Letters to the Editor, Haaretz)
 
Commentary/Analysis:
Enlisting a former Israeli minister is a victory for Iranian intelligence (Amos Harel, Haaretz+) If the charges against Gonen Segev are true, they show how important Israel is to Iran and raise questions about Israeli counterintelligence.
If Gonen Segev is convicted, he will certainly be among the top spies who operated in Israel (Yossi Melman, Maariv) This is the most severe espionage and treason affair in the history of the State of Israel. If Gonen Segev is convicted, he will certainly be among the top spies operating in Israel against their homeland. In the league of the likes of Marcus Klingberg, Nahum Manbar, Ze'ev Avni, (Australian-Israeli) Ben Zygier of the Mossad and a few other incidents that took place in Israel, some of which were not published. In Segev's case, the gravity of the act is not necessarily due to the damage that his actions have caused to the security of the state - even though that should not be made light of - but because of his status, because of who he was and because of his intention to serve the greatest enemy of Israel. To destroy it…There have already been spokesmen for honesty who claim that his actions are not serious, but it can be assumed that the Iranian Intelligence Ministry has given medals of honor to the directors of the operation and that if they were allowed they would be opening champagne bottles…Nahum Manbar, who was convicted of espionage and contacts with Iranian agents and sold them chemical weapons, argued in his defense that he had not spied and did not intend to harm Israel's security and that he wanted to fool the Iranians and obtain information about Israeli pilot navigator Ron Arad. Most of the spies claim that they did not intend to spy and did not want to harm state security. Segev's recruitment by the Iranian Intelligence Ministry was classic and characteristic of many intelligence organizations around the world, including those of Israel. Make contact with the target and offer to do business with them. The person who is intended for recruitment is requested to write a report or to advise on his area of expertise. In the case of Segev, a former physician and energy minister, that would be about medical equipment and then water and electricity projects that concern Israel. Once the conscript agrees to the tasks that are imposed on him, even if they are innocent and harmless, he is caught in the net and there is no way back. This is a process that is referred to in the intelligence jargon as "degeneration of the object." He then gave information on other sites of strategic significance. For example, when he was a minister, he knew the power stations in Israel well. These, as far as is known, serve as targets for missile attacks from Iran and Hezbollah in case of war. Afterward, the Iranians asked him to bring to the "business" meetings experts who formerly worked in the security establishment, in the field of security, by promising them fat contracts. They went to meetings with businessmen of Iranian origin, in the presence of Gonen. It seems that some of them suspected or maybe they simply reported to the Shin Bet, and as a result, the investigation was opened…In the face of Iran's worldwide activity against Israel, in recent years the Shin Bet has increased its efforts against Iranian terrorism and espionage in order to thwart them. Until now, fortunately, it is doing so successfully.
We must hope that Segev was Iran's most important intelligence asset (Ben Caspit, Maariv) The former minister was more a “macher”(wheeler and dealer) espionage, a dubious type, who could have benefited his recruiters through connections, setting up meetings and cross-references, probably not much more than that. His recruitment into the ranks of Iranian intelligence is, as of now, a moral achievement.
Present Evidence or Free Palestinian Lawmaker Khalida Jarrar (Haaretz Editorial) Jarrar has been in Israeli jail for a year without charges, and this week her detention was extended by four months. It's time to end this inhumane, unacceptable measure, designed for use in rare cases of real danger.
Photojournalists don’t create reality, they document it (Ohad Zwigenberg, Yedioth/Ynet) IDF soldiers operate in the heart of a civilian population, creating constant friction. We photojournalists film what is happening from a reasonable distance without getting in their way. We aren’t part of Breaking the Silence, B’Tselem or Im Tirtzu. We don’t care about those organizations. What we care about is documenting reality as it is.
The Day Arabs Will Go to the Polls in Droves (Carolina Landsmann, Haaretz+) The road to defeating the supporters of segregation in Afula and in the Knesset runs through the Jerusalem mayoralty.
Hamas's gamble: The days of the next battle in the Gaza Strip are already around the corner (Tal Lev Ram, Maariv) As the kite terror and explosive balloon attacks continue and the political pressure intensifies, it is likely that the IDF will attack when it identifies an operational opportunity to hit a squad of launchers. It isn’t possible to ignore the terrorist organization's moves on the threshold of the increasingly closer escalation.
The Deceptiveness of Egypt’s Appointment of Female Ministers (Zvi Bar'el, Haaretz+) Egypt did make an impressive leap forward, but if we look at discrimination against women in society, Egypt is one of the lowest in rank.
Following ministers’ demands, IDF steps up response to kite terrorism (Ron Ben-Yishai, Ynet) Although incendiary kites and balloons aren’t launched directly by Hamas, the Israeli army targeted military ‘assets’ of the strip’s sovereign and ruling power on Sunday night to make Hamas stop children and youth from dispatching kites. If it fails to do so, the IDF’s next target in Gaza will be people.
Trump's artless deal: How not to rescue Gaza’s economy (David Rosenberg, Haaretz+) His $1 billion plan to develop infrastructure would leave Gaza the basket case that it is, and do nothing to end the violence.
Israel and Hamas are on the verge of the First Kite War (Amos Harel, Haaretz+) Hamas is signaling to Israel it will respond with rockets if the kites' flyers are targeted.
Israel Must Stop Playing Political Games With the Armenian Genocide (Benjamin Abtan and Beate Klarsfeld, Serge Klarsfeld and Arno Klarsfeld, Haaretz+) Israel should ignore the noisy, serial threats Turkey throws at states recognizing the Armenian genocide. The Jewish state has a particular responsibility to oppose those who would deny genocide.
 
Interviews:
“I wouldn’t allow myself to write, ‘Fuck Turkey’ on Facebook or go to a strippers club”
Dr. Moshi Ben-Eliezar, the grandson of David Ben-Gurion, is certain that his grandfather would not be pleased with how things look today in the country, whose establishment he declared. And certainly not from the conduct of the Netanyahu family and from the attempt of Prime Minister to present himself as one who continues in the path of Ben-Gurion. In an interview on the occassion of his new book, he remembers with nostalgia the visits to the hut in Kibbutz Sde Boker and also speaks about the claims that his father was responsible for the discrimination against Mizrachi Jews. (Interviewed by Itai Ilnai in Yedioth ’24 hours’ supplement, cover)

 
Prepared for APN by Orly Halpern, independent freelance journalist based in Jerusalem.
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