Avigdor Feldman is a key, if not the most prominent and significant, Israeli lawyers. Systematically and unrelentingly, he has waged a stubborn struggle against torture techniques, used by the Israel Security Agency (Shin Bet), which particularly targets Palestinian suspects or detained persons under investigation. Feldman has opposed that these technique be established as “a dedicated and normal approach” in the Shin Bet operations.
In the Weekly Supplement of Haaretz (28 December 2017), Feldman published a long article, titled This is how I tried to combat torture in the Shin Bet and was almost successful!, reflecting on the bitter experience of his struggle over years. He admitted that he failed in his struggle: “For many years, I tried to combat torture in the Shin Bet in courts. I thought I succeeded and won a victory by transforming Israel into a better state. How naïve I was!”
Feldman begins his article with the “photograph of victory”, which was taken in the lobby of the Israeli “High Court of Justice” on 6 September 1999. Then, the court rendered a decision, which prohibited that “torture be adopted as an approach” in the Shin Bet interrogations. “Photos of victory at courts are few in my album. There are many photos, in which other colleagues and I are getting out of the courtroom with bowed heads. Those who look closely at these photos can see tears in the eye too, while I’m whispering something like ‘We’ll submit a motion for further research’, ‘We’ll file a petition for a retrial’, or something else totally hopeless.”
“I have filed too many petitions against torture. However, the state’s answer was always the same: ‘Shin Bet does not use torture.’ But what is the point of filing a petition, anyway? My experience in this field provides that the breaking point of a person interrogated by the Shin Bet usually takes place on the second or third day of torture. By contrast, if it is not rejected immediately, a petition takes at least six days to be filed, from the moment the concerned family goes to the lawyer until a date is set to examine the petition. This period is enough for torturers to do all they want and extract a confession, no matter if it is real or fake. The interrogated person mainly succumbs when the interrogators threaten that they would not stop (torturing him) until he reveals the information he has. He breaks down due to threats of what interrogators will do to his wife. On several occasions, they bring his wife to the detention centre and make her walk in front of him even if there are no suspicions against her. Sometimes, a detained