Bennett in Row with Shin Bet Over Detention Order

Minister of Defense Naftali Bennett. (Tomer Neuberg/FLASH90)

Defense Minister Naftali Bennett and the Shin Bet security service were having a polite difference of opinion on Wednesday. The Shin Bet accused Bennett of being soft on Jewish terrorists, and Bennett said he is as tough as anybody, but this time they were going too far.

At issue was an administrative detention order issued against an extreme right-wing activist from the Galil who had been accused of throwing rocks at an Arab driver and causing him injury.

After a district court rejected a police appeal and ordered the release of Eli Ben David, 19, the Shin Bet promptly re-arrested him on a fresh detention. Bennett reviewed the case and decided on a more moderate course, limiting Ben David’s entry to Yehuda and Shomron only.

“Bennett gives back to extremist right-wing activists and weakens the security system on the ground,” officials, described as furious, told Channel 12.

Shin Bet sources were quoted by Times of Israel saying the detention recommendation was based on “high-quality intelligence about a high level of danger posed by [Ben David].”

They also pointed out that the re-arrest warrant had been signed by Bennett.

The minister, himself arguably the country’s biggest right-wing activist, retorted that it was nothing of the kind.

Bennett said that after “considering all the considerations,” including the detainee’s past, it appeared that less stringent measures would suffice.

“I’m not rubber stamping anyone,” said Bennett, and added that the fact the court decided to release him, it lit a “red light” for him.

“I didn’t immediately release him for a long day. I checked and investigated. I came to the conclusion that this is not a ticking bomb, it is a person who is suspected of serious acts. I do not accept any form of violence, not from Jews nor Arabs.”

In his ruling, Judge Ido Druyan-Gamliel criticized law enforcement’s handling of the case, writing that “we cannot carry on as if nothing happened here.” Suggesting that the security forces may have crossed the bounds of legal counter-terror work, he ordered that the minutes from the hearing be transferred to the Yerushalayim District Attorney’s Office, as well as to the Shin Bet and the police’s Yehuda and Shomron District’s Major Crimes Unit, for an internal investigation.

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