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Jewish Suspects Claim They Were Tortured In Israeli Custody; Supporters Protest

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

Israel has struggled to punish extremist Jewish violence against Palestinians. In one case, though, officials say they're getting close. It involves a West Bank firebombing that left a Palestinian father and his parents dead this past summer. A group of young Israelis are under arrest and officials are soon expected to issue indictments, but the suspects claimed they were tortured while in custody. And right-wing supporters have taken to the streets in protest, as Daniel Estrin reports from Jerusalem.

DANIEL ESTRIN, BYLINE: Jewish activists and West Bank settler rabbis were on the streets blocking intersections this week. Protesters shouted, a Jew does not torture another Jew.

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ITAMAR BEN GVIR: (Speaking Hebrew).

ESTRIN: Lawyer Itamar Ben Gvir told reporters that Israeli interrogators tied his client into contorted positions and knocked him over again and again until he made a confession. Others said they were kept awake for days. Palestinians in recent years have made similar allegations about Israeli interrogations. Yesterday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu responded to the protest.

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ISRAEL BENJAMIN NETANYAHU: (Speaking Hebrew).

ESTRIN: He said the interrogations were done under tight legal supervision. And he said, quote, "there is Arab terror that we deal with and fight day and night in every arena. But unfortunately, from time to time, there are terror acts performed by Jews." Officials are eager to prosecute the perpetrators of this summer's deadly firebombing. It inspired a revenge attack in October that killed two Israeli settlers, and Israeli officials don't want it to inspire more violence. For NPR News, I'm Daniel Estrin in Jerusalem. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.