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The Extremist Settler's Guide to Getting Away with Terror

Last week news broke in the Israeli press of the arrest of an Israeli settler, Haim Pearlman, on charges of murdering 4 Palestinians and committing many other attacks over the past twelve years.  The Pearlman Affair reminds many, of course, of the November 2009 case of Jack Teitel, the American citizen settler accused of a 12-year terror spree that included the murder of at least 2 Palestinians and many other attacks.

The fact that both Pearlman and Teitel are accused of terror sprees that lasted more than a decade has aroused some comment.  The time it took for Israeli authorities to act against the two seems to be in stark contrast to what is seen when an Israeli is murdered by a Palestinian.  For example, today the Shin Bet announced that it had caught the Hamas cell in Hebron responsible for the murder of an Israeli policeman - a murder that took place almost exactly 1 month ago. 

Indeed, the Israeli press has focused a great deal in recent days on the difficulty Israeli officials seem to have in dealing with extremist settler law-breakers, focusing, in particular, on the lengths that extremist settler leaders are going to in order to turn the tables on Israeli intelligence officials in order to embarrass the State of Israel and thwart its efforts to impose any semblance of the rule of law on them.
For example, on July 18th, Haaretz reported on the "psychological warfare" between Israeli security services and extremist settlers.  That same day, the Jerusalem Post reported that these extremists are directly attacking the Shin Bet unit in charge of fighting Jewish terror - by publicizing the personal details of the head of that unit (his name, picture, home address).

Today Maariv (Hebrew) published an article giving some additional insight into the right-wing extremist (and usually settler) strategy for thwarting Israeli law enforcement.  Translation by Israel News Today:

The Right Wing's Guide to GSS Interrogations

The Haim Pearlman affair has exposed some of the interrogation methods used by the GSS's Jewish Department, the agency entrusted with the interrogation of extreme right wing activists and, in many cases, their recruitment as agents. Right-wing activist Noam Federman, who spent many months in detention and has a résumé of hundreds of hours in the GSS's interrogation rooms, has put his rich experience into writing. The handbook that he has written, which explains how to deal with the GSS's interrogation tricks, is being circulated in right-wing circles. Keren Perlman, the wife of the right wing extremists activist who is suspected of having murdered four Arabs in Jerusalem and of stabbing seven others, was seen carrying the handbook with her when she went to his remand hearings last week.

Last night, the army censor cleared the entire handbook for publication. Its main points follow.

When Should One Come for Interrogation?

Federman explains to the right-wing activists that if they have received a summons for interrogation, they should put off their arrival for as long as possible. "Do you have to arrive when it's convenient for the interrogator, even if you lose a day of work because of it? As strange as it may sound, the answer is no." Federman explains the advantages of postponing one's arrival. "1. The farther off the date of the interrogation is from the date of the crime, the greater the chance that in the nature of things, suspicion will fade, the memory will weaken and so will the future implications. 2. No person is a doormat that the police can walk on at any moment."

Summons for Clarification

"Unlike an interrogation, the goal of a clarification is usually a meeting with members of the GSS or police intelligence personnel. Despite all the declarations, the GSS is still trying in every way possible to recruit agents and informers from among the right-wing public and the settlers." Federman explains that the real goal of the summons to a clarification is really "to clarify whether the object would make a suitable informant. Another possibility is a warning when a person is too 'active' for the taste of the intelligence agents." Federman recommends that right-wing activists ignore such invitations. "If they continue to put pressure on you," he writes, "the best way to deal with the problem is to tell friends about the invitation and let the GSS know that you will be coming to the meeting with a friend. The GSS's whole reputation is in secrecy, and when its activities are revealed, this interferes with its goals."

What to Do during an Arrest?

"Have police officers arrived at your home? When a police officer comes to a suspect's home, you must examine well which paper he has in his hand." Federman details the various kinds of papers and explains each one, distinguishing between a summons to an interrogation, an arrest warrant, a search warrant, and so on. "It is important to examine it because you do not have to let a police officer into your home in every case. Only if he has an arrest warrant do you need to let him into your home. If he has only a summons to an interrogation, not only do you not have to let him inside, but you can shut the door in his face and not take the summons. If it is an arrest warrant, you cannot prevent him from entering unless they call the neighbors and cause a commotion."
What to Do during an Interrogation?

"If a suspect has a solid alibi, he must give it as quickly as possible. After some time, it could turn out that the court does not believe him because if the alibi were true, the suspect would have given it immediately and not kept it to himself. It is important to know: even if a person is caught 'in the act,' during the incident, it is not the end of the world, and he does not have to 'tell all' during his interrogation."

How to Deal with Threats by the Interrogators?

"Sometimes, when a suspect does not confess to the allegations against him, the interrogators will use the well-known trick in which they tell him that because of his denials, he will be arrested, taken to a remand hearing and sit in jail. As stated above, during these critical minutes, the suspect must gather his inner resources and respond calmly, and not show any sign of being nervous, impatient or upset. He must respond calmly and with full confidence, that if he must sit in jail in order to prove his innocence, this does not daunt him, and he will continue to stick to the truth until it comes to light."
The Interrogators' Tricks

"When a person is arrested, he is taken to a detention cell. There are crimes that the police have a great ambition to solve. Many times, the detention cell is a good tool for breaking the spirit of the person being interrogated and extracting details from him that he would not be willing to offer during a process of ordinary interrogation. In order to accomplish this, there could be a professional informant in the detention cell who tries to extract various details from the suspect, or record him while he is speaking with another detainee. The suspect would do well not to speak to others about his interrogation. He can talk about any other subject in the world, but not about the crime that he is alleged to have committed."

How to Pass the Time in Detention?

"The conditions in detention are not the end of the world. You can pray, study and even rest. It is very important to keep morale up and not break because of a few days in detention. Every person goes to reserve duty or to the army, and that is how you should regard arrest, too."

A GSS Interrogation

"Not everybody 'gets' to be interrogated by the GSS. The GSS usually investigates crimes such as murder for nationalistic motives, possession of weapons for use in terror attacks, and so on. Every single one of their interrogations is filmed, every conversation, even the smallest. It is recorded and transcribed. Every word that a suspect utters, even to his lawyer, can be documented. After the filming of the interrogation, a special team will watch the recording, analyze every movement of the suspect, every word he utters, every twitch of eye or mouth of the one being questioned. The more sparing you are in your words, the more information you will keep from your interrogators that could help him build the 'profile' of the one under questioning."

The Detention Compounds

"The GSS has prisons of its own. Their conditions are disgraceful in the extreme. Every detainee sits in a small cell that is hardly large enough for a detainee to stretch out fully while lying down. The cell has no toilet, only a bucket for relieving oneself. The mattress and blankets are moldy. Some GSS detention centers have better conditions. But in any case, these are not the ordinary conditions of a police detention center. The shape of the cell and its conditions are not as they are by chance. Their goal is to humiliate the detainee, to make him feel isolated and without support of any kind, with his only hope being that 'finally the interrogators will end his suffering and come to talk with him.'"
The Interrogation Methods

"The GSS has varied interrogation methods. Sometimes they will question one suspect only, sometimes two, sometimes alternately, with one interrogator using psychological methods in order to make a suspect think that he is on his side, and that he has a disagreement with the other interrogator, who bears him ill will. Sometimes the suspect will find himself facing a battery of interrogators, with each one 'firing' a question. During a GSS interrogation, there is no 'kidding around.' It happened once that a suspect told his interrogators that if they brought him a falafel, he would confess. When the falafel was brought, the suspect said that he had been just kidding, but in the transcript was written, 'The suspect showed signs of a desire to confess.' While such a thing by itself cannot cause a person to be convicted in court, it is certainly considered what is defined in the legal lexicon as 'the start of a confession'--in other words, the beginning of an admission of guilt."


"The GSS interrogators usually keep the suspect from sleeping much so that his inner strength will weaken through fatigue. Even when the suspect finally reaches the detention cell, he is kept from sleeping quite a bit, for example by playing loud music in Arabic. People have also been tortured physically. For example, they were tied to a chair for hours and forced to relieve themselves in that position. Some people had sacks put over their heads and were even beaten, and some were shaken. However, the GSS usually tries to solve a case using more sophisticated methods because it knows that beatings and physical torture strengthen the spirit of one who is under interrogation."

The Note Trick

"The suspect sits in the GSS detention cell. Nearby, a janitor is sweeping the floor. The janitor does not speak with him, but the next morning he passes by and begins a vague conversation with him. Afterwards, the janitor arrives with a note from his detained 'friend,' in which he says that he is also being detained and asks: 'What did you say?' In this way, the detainee, who thinks innocently that he has passed a note to his friend, has actually passed a note to the GSS. The detainee must know that he cannot treat this lightly. Once, it happened that a detainee who knew about the note trick made a joke and wrote a note back. The detainee was charged afterward with obstructing an investigation. The note trick comes in several forms. For example, a detainee who went out to shower found a note in his shoes and put a return note in his shoes, which, of course, had been planted by the GSS."
The Polygraph Trick

"The GSS interrogators offer a suspect a chance to clear himself by taking a lie-detector test. The suspect is tested, and they tell him that the test results indicate that he lied. The suspect is amazed, and then they tell him, maybe something else interfered with the test. They offer him the possibility of clearing himself, for example by writing something else that he did on a piece of paper. The suspect writes it down, the note is taken and photographed, and serves as evidence afterward. Remember! A lie-detector test does not serve as admissible evidence in court, and so a lie detector can only get you into trouble. Even if you are found to be telling the truth this time, that does not mean that it will be so the next time. Therefore, avoid lie-detector tests, since God, and not the GSS, sees into our innermost thoughts."

The Starvation Trick

"The detainee is not given food for an entire day. At the end of the day, he is told that he will receive food on condition that he sign a paper stating that he received food. The detainee signs and is photographed signing, and then one of two things happens. Either they bring his signature to another detainee and tell him that his friend confessed, or they threaten him that he will make his picture public and tell everyone that he is a collaborator."

The Newspaper and Radio Trick

"The detainee suddenly sees a newspaper telling that all his friends confessed and are even planning to testify against him. Amazed, the detainee gets upset and decides to 'screw' his friends, even though they were either never arrested or did not confess. There have been cases in which the GSS brought in a well-known radio announcer and faked news broadcasts that the suspect heard 'by chance.'"

The Recording Trick

The detainee is brought a recording of his friend, who confesses and incriminates him when this did not really happen. The suspect, certain that his friend broke, breaks as well.
The Van Trick

"The detainee is brought with his detained friend to a remand hearing or to another jail. On the way, a fake commotion occurs, from an accident to a terror attack, which supposedly obligates the police officers to deal with that incident, leaving the two alone. The two suspects, of course, think that this is a good time to match stories because the police are busy, while every single word is recorded and serves as evidence against them. This trick is performed in several variations. For example, two suspects are brought to the same room for a meeting, each with his own lawyer. At that time, until the lawyers enter, the conversation between them is recorded."

Fabricated Evidence

"The GSS (and also the police in rarer cases) can show the suspect a forensics report that contains the suspect's fingerprints, or DNA. Afterwards, they tell the suspect that they do not need his confession and that the case is closed. The suspect, even if he is sure of himself, begins to have doubts, and his self-confidence is damaged."
The Accusing Friends Trick

"The detainee is brought to a cell where there are other 'detainees,' not necessarily from the same case. After a conversation about inconsequential matters, the 'detainees' decide that the new detainee is a collaborator who has been put into their cell in order to incriminate them. He is subjected to accusations and even to blows. The suspect, upset, wants to prove that he is not a collaborator by admitting things that he has done. Of course, everything is recorded and serves afterward as evidence against him."