The Shin Bet will not seek to renew an administrative detention order against a right-wing activist who has been held in prison without charges for the past two months – despite the fact that two courts declared that there was no legal basis on which to hold him. The decision came in response to a lawsuit filed on behalf of the 19-year -old resident of Yitzhar with the High Court by his attorneys, Itamar Ben-Gvir and Honenu attorney Sima Cochav.
“It is regrettable that two months were stolen from the life of this young man, as he was imprisoned under an administrative detention order despite the fact that the courts released him,” said Ben Gvir. “The Shin Bet constantly tries to drill into us the importance of democracy and the rule of law, but for itself it has shown time and again that those rules are not applicable. It is not clear how they expect these ‘hilltop youth’ to follow the law when they themselves do not.”
The youth was arrested several months ago on suspicion of “price tag” activities, including slashing tires and drawing graffiti near international consulates in Jerusalem. He was ordered released by a Rishon LeTzion court, and then rearrested, and released once again, by a Tel Aviv court. In both instances he was released over a lack of evidence.
After that, Shin Bet officials showed up at his door with an administrative detention order, empowering them to hold him for up to two months. A holdover from the British Mandate period, security organizations and police have the right to request detention of a suspect considered “very dangerous” to the public welfare or safety. The orders must be approved by a court, but as no reason beyond the say-so of the security agency is required, the courts invariably grant the request.
In their High Court petition Ben Gvir and Cochav said that the Shin Bet had done exactly that, “presenting ‘secret material’ to the court, which it appears they did not check too closely, and instead got the information from agents in the field with an agenda against the hilltop youth and the right. Even if the accused is guilty of such crimes, they do not justify administrative detention.” Instead of presenting its case to the court, the Shin Bet said that it would release the youth in the coming days.
Relying on the Shin Bet for security decisions may not be the best option for Israel, Ben Gvir added. “This is the same Shin Bet that recommended that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu fold on the security checks on Har HaBayis, which recommended not arresting Islamic radical Ra’ed Salah,” responsible for a great deal of anti-Israel incitement, “but they rush to arrest a young man from Yitzhar. Once again, they prove that they are afraid of the enemy, but when it comes to the Jews, they are very, very tough.”