Israel Eyes Preventive Detention in Fight Against Arab Crime

The funeral of Sahar Ismail, the Education minister’s aide for Arab society, who was gunned down by unknown assailants, outside his home in the northern Israeli town of Rameh, August 16. (Flash90)

Israeli authorities are looking into the possibility of using the controversial method of “preventive detention” in the fight against crime in the Arab community, the Kan public broadcaster reported on Sunday.

Until now, preventive detention— holding citizens without trial—has only been employed against Palestinian terror suspects and a few Jewish extremists, in cases of imminent danger to public safety.

Israeli security officials argue that in some cases, issuing an indictment could force them to reveal sensitive security information. Palestinians and international rights groups, however, have condemned the policy as a violation of civil rights.

Kan reports that the proposal has generated heated debate within the government, and that High Court President Esther Hayut and Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit are participating in the debate, though it didn’t say what positions they have taken, if any.

Sources were quoted as saying that, under the plan, police would arrest murder suspects — even if they do not have enough evidence to charge them — along with people whom they suspect of planning a murder.

Meanwhile, the 97th victim of violent crime in the Arab sector died on Motzei Shabbos, a 24-year-old bystander during a gunfight between two families in the northern village of Ilut, apparently the result of stray gunfire, The Times of Israel said.

The victim, Issam Salti, who apparently was not involved in the fight, had been married just two months ago, a relative said.

He was the 97th apparent homicide victim in Arab society in 2021, according to the Abraham Initiatives nonprofit. The organization said that 80 of those killed were shooting victims.

Police said five people were arrested on suspicion of involvement in this latest shooting.

On Friday evening, a police officer threatened wedding guests with a loaded M16, after a complaint came in about noise from the event, The Jerusalem Post reported.

The incident, which occurred in the town of Majd al-Kurum in the Galil, was captured on video.

A journalist who was attending the wedding, Mabda Ferhat, began filming the scene on his cellphone, but the video shows one of the policemen knocking the phone onto the floor and breaking it.

The video then shows the same policeman shoving one of the guests, after which he pulled an M16 out of his police car, loaded it and brandished it menacingly.

“The policeman began screaming at me and threatening with his gun,” Mabda Ferhat, a broadcaster for Radio a-Shams, told Ynet.

“I have been a field reporter for many years and have a journalist’s certificate. I did not bother anyone but the policeman chose to act violently and crossed all the red lines. I did not expect that to happen, it is very severe. A person like that needs to be in prison, not in the police,” he said.

The Israel Police’s response: “The 100 [police] hotline received a complaint about an unusually loud sound coming from a wedding in Majd al-Kurum that disturbed all of the area’s residents. The local police arrived at the venue and as they began to search for its owner a number of youngsters gathered around them and hindered their ability to carry out their task, to find the venue’s owner in order to reduce the noise.”

“Officers of the Israel Police are required to handle complex situations involving citizens that sometimes may evolve into violence on the part of civilians and cause the incident to escalate. Having said this, in this case, and after watching the videos the policeman was transferred from his current position until his conduct is investigated by the relevant authorities.”

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