This Palestinian Terror Suspect Is No Saint. But Something Went Wrong in Israel’s Interrogation of Him

It’s an exceptional case: Samer Arbid – the head of a Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine cell suspected of killing 17-year-old Rina Shnerb in August – is in critical condition after being interrogated by the Shin Bet security service. This could be the result of a mistake that occurred during questioning. The case, which the Justice Ministry and Shin Bet will begin investigating soon, joins a list of other question marks about the attack.

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Thus it’s better not to get too excited about the responses on the right wing celebrating Arbid’s condition. The man is far from being a village saint. From the details released so far, the experienced Arbid built a number of terror cells isolated from one from another. Also, it seems he prepared the bomb and flipped the switch himself when the Shnerb family was hiking to a spring in the West Bank at the end of August.

But democratic countries defending themselves against terrorism may not use interrogation and torture as punishment. At the height of the second intifada, Israel would occasionally kill senior terrorists in the West Bank when arresting them was considered too dangerous.

>> Read more: The Shin Bet told the judge it wasn't torturing Palestinians. The scene next door proved otherwise ■ Israeli High Court ruling may make it easier for interrogators to use violence ■ Illegal for 20 years, torture of Palestinians by Shin Bet goes on | Opinion

Once in a great while Israel still acts this way in Gaza, but in the West Bank the situation is different: Israel has security control on the ground there, and if it wishes, it can reach every terror suspect and arrest him. If the suspect is armed and there’s a reasonable suspicion he plans to use his weapons to avoid arrest, he’s hit so as not to endanger the lives of soldiers.