IDF arrests Palestinian near Nablus on June 14, 2010. AP
IDF arrests Palestinian near Nablus on June 14, 2010. Photo by AP
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A top Shin Bet official on Monday asked the Knesset to extend a temporary order that allows the security service to detain Palestinian prisoners for four days without a hearing.

"The security situation in Israel has not changed over the past three years and there is therefore a need to extend the temporary order," the Shin Bet's head of investigations told the Knesset's legislative committee.

The investigations chief also asked the committee to restore Section 5 of the temporary legislation, which was struck down by the High Court and had allowed the Shin Bet to hold hearings on prolonging detention without the suspect being present.

"If in the past there was a fear that this law would be misused, I am proud to say that the figures show great moderation in its enforcement, and we continue to operate that way," the official said.

The law technically applies to all arrests in Israel and the West Bank but in practice is applied almost exclusively to Palestinian detainees.

"The work of the Shin Bet isn't carried out in the dark, but under the scrutiny of the judicial system, the state prosecution service and the attorney general."

The Shin Bet official was responding to testimony before the committee by human rights groups, who claim the law harms prisoners' rights.

"The fact that interrogation takes place without due procedure, and that a person is held under conditions which in themselves constitute a means of pressure, undermines fair judicial process and produces false confessions," said Leila Margalit, a lawyer for the Association for Civil Rights in Israel.