JERUSALEM — Nine of the 12 men arrested on suspicion of links to a Jewish terrorist cell were released from custody last week. Sources involved in the investigation say the police and the Shin Bet General Security Service failed to prove the suspects’ involvement in terrorist activities.
“The mountain has turned into a molehill,” said one security source. “Although great efforts were invested in the investigation, apparently no indictments will be issued against most of the suspects.”
Meanwhile, three residents of the West Bank settlement of Bat Ayin were convicted Wednesday for their roles in the attempted bombing of a Palestinian girls school in East Jerusalem 17 months ago, Israel Radio reported. The three were said to have parked an explosives-laden trailer outside the main entrance to the school in the A-Tur neighborhood at 3:30 a.m. on April 29, 2002, and set the timer for 7:25 a.m., just as students would be arriving.
The arrest of the three men, Shlomo Dvir, Yarden Morag and Ofer Gamliel, is believed to have touched off the investigation leading to the arrests of the other suspects.
The police and the Shin Bet had appeared certain as the investigation began at the end of July that they had exposed a Jewish terror cell about to carry out an attack on Palestinians. But the main suspect in the case, Sela Tur, was released to house arrest September 9, along with two other suspects, David Libman and Issachar Peretz.
Six of the nine men released came to Jerusalem this week for a so-called “thanksgiving party” to mark their release. Some 200 people attended, many of them former members of the outlawed, extremist Kach organization.
Speakers at the event described the Shin Bet officials and agents as criminals and accused them of infringing on the human rights of the detainees during their incarceration. They also accused Shin Bet agents of fabricating slanderous accusations against them.
Celebrants at the Heichal David catering hall included several former detainees arrested by the Shin Bet in the past, including Yoram Skolnik, who was convicted of killing a bound terrorist, and Dov Har-Shefi, whose daughter Margalit was convicted and served time for failing to act to prevent the assassination of former prime minister Yitzhak Rabin.
Detainees who attended the event told how they were held in narrow cells smelling of human excrement and given blankets smelling of urine.
Descriptions by the Jewish detainees of their treatment were largely identical to descriptions given by Palestinian security detainees to human rights organizations in recent years.
“The fact that most of these people were sent home without any charges being pressed against them indicates that there was no evidence against them,” said attorney Ariel Atari, who represents Dvir-Zeliger. “Not just the Shin Bet, but also the court system needs to do some internal checks.”