West Bank clashes
A Palestinian protester runs from Israeli security forces during clashes in the West Bank village of Bilin near Ramallah February 18, 2011. Photo by Reuters
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A Palestinian who was arrested near Nablus on Friday morning accused the Israel Police of illegally abducting him beyond Israel’s borders, thus violating international law and overstepping the Israel Police’s authority.

If the court sides with Mohamed Beni Gama’s argument, this will enable many other Palestinian detainees to appeal their detention, police sources said.

The Petah Tikva Magistrate’s Court instructed police to verify whether the suspect had been arrested “outside the country” and whether it was legal to bring him into Israel for questioning over a two-year-old property offense.

Israeli policemen and soldiers seized Gama from his home in the West Bank village of Arkaba, near Nablus, before dawn Friday morning in order to question him for allegedly breaking into a Kfar Sava business two years ago.

The interrogation was conducted within the green line.

An arrest warrant for Gama was issued two months ago, after police found new evidence linking him to the crime. He was arrested in a joint police-Israel Defense Forces operation in the West Bank, they told the court.

Gama’s attorney Nachmi Finblat said the police and soldiers had abducted his client from his home in the Palestinian Authority, thus violating international law and the Israel Police’s jurisdiction.

“Would the police consider abducting a French national from France if they suspected him of breaking into a business in Israel?” Finblat said.

Police have been arresting Palestinians in the West Bank and bringing them into Israel for trial for years. To do so, they need a court-issued arrest warrant approved by the attorney general and reasonable grounds for suspicion.

According to international law, a foreign national may be brought forcibly into another state only on suspicion of crimes against humanity, like Adolf Eichmann, or if he poses an immediate danger to the state’s security and people, like Dirar Abu Sisi, a Palestinian allegedly abducted from Ukraine whom Israel said was Hamas’ missile engineer.

If a person suspected of a criminal offense, such as breaking and entering, is abroad, the state may ask for his extradition. This, however, is granted only in extreme cases.

In Gama’s case, police apparently did not have the attorney general’s approval to arrest him within the Palestinian Authority. Unless proven otherwise, Gama was arrested illegally and the court is likely to release him, legal sources said.

Judge Yael Klugman, formerly president of the military court in Tel Aviv, accepted the attorney’s arguments, ruling it must first be ascertained where Gama was arrested.

“If it transpires he was arrested outside Israel, and the police ask to extend his remand despite that ... they must prepare to argue the case for their authority to arrest someone outside the country and bring him into Israel for investigation over a two-year-old breaking and entering offense,” she wrote.