Half a year after he was arrested by the Shin Bet security services, interrogated for days, and accused of being a "Jewish terrorist," Israel's prosecution service has confirmed what Netanel Furkowitz's defense team have said all along: that the youth leader from the Samaria community of Kochav Hashachar is innocent of any wrongdoing, and had no connection whatsoever to the deadly arson attack in the Palestinian village of Duma last summer.
Responding to a petition from Attorney Adi Kedar of the Honenu legal rights organization, the prosecution said they had officially closed their investigation into Furkowitz, due to lack of evidence.
Furkowitz – who received an award for excellence from the president during his military service, and who had no criminal record – was arrested while on IDF reserve duty last year.
The youth leader ran an Education Ministry-sponsored program training Jewish shepherds and was well known for his positive work with local "hilltop youth", aiding many young Israelis from troubled backgrounds to gain steady employment and get their lives back on track.
He was held for 12 days without charge by the Shin Bet, who accused him of involvement in the deadly arson attack which killed three members of the Dawabshe family in 2015. Investigators claimed he had rented out a car to a youth from the Shiloh region who was suspected of involvement in the arson, and further claimed he knew full well of the suspect's involvement in the attack.
Despite Furkowitz's repeated protestations of innocence – including pointing out his public record of speaking out against "price tag" attacks – went ignored, and authorities repeatedly extended his detention on the basis of supposed "secret information" which was never revealed to his lawyers.
It was later determined by investigators that the prime suspect in the arson – Amiram Ben-Uliel – carried out the attack alone, and reached Duma by foot, not by car.
More damning still, the Shin Bet eventually admitted that the youth who bought the vehicle in question from Furkowitz was not at all involved in the arson either. He, too, was released after 21 days in custody, which included the use of violent "extraordinary interrogation" techniques.
Attorney Adi Kedar condemned the conduct of authorities in the case.
The treatment of his suspect "should keep citizens up at night – particularly residents of Judea and Samaria, who can for fabricated reasons find themselves… detained under harsh conditions, all just to serve the purposes of the Shin Ben, who knew full well that he was not involved or suspected in carrying out the crime," said Kedar.
Honenu CEO Shmuel Medad, who supported Furkowitz and his family throughout their ordeal, added: "The question is, why?"
"Why were the (security) institutions so cruel too their own brothers; to their own soldiers and citizens?" he asked.
"And the bigger question is how should we, the public, respond? How can we stop this?"