Israeli Arab Placed Under Administrative Detention for First Time in Over a Decade

Court orders detention without trial of 19-year-old woman who told her family she wants to be a holy martyr.

Hagai Aharon, Genie

A 19-year-old woman from the Nazareth area who texted her family and friends that she intended to become a shahida (martyr) will be detained without trial for three months. It is the first time an Israeli Arab has been placed in administrative detention since 2001.

In a separate incident, a 14-year-old Israeli-Arab girl was arrested in Be’er Sheva on Thursday, following a series of text messages suggesting she was planning a terror attack. The girl was detained for questioning, during which she confessed she had been planning to stab Jews, police officers and soldiers in Jerusalem.

Nazareth District Court issued an administrative detention order against the Nazareth-area woman on Thursday. All further information about her is under a court-imposed gag order.

Last week, worried relatives of the young woman went to Nazareth police station and reported that she had sent her sister and friends a text message earlier that day through the Viber app, saying she intended to become a holy martyr. Her family later brought her to the police station, where she was immediately arrested.

In its request to hold the woman without trial, the prosecution stated that, on Tuesday, Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon approved holding her for three months without trial.

In the text message, the woman wrote to her friends and family: “I saw men and women who became shahids for Jerusalem and the country, and I was surprised by their love and the reason that led them to do it. And today, when I am sure and know what it is to be a shahida alongside al-Aqsa and Palestine, I very much want to be a shahida. And today I am aware that I want to struggle and fight in order to be a shahida in Jerusalem, I want to die with God under the wings of the Shahada [Muslim creed]. I want to raise the flag of freedom of the land on my grave. I want to be freed of the bonds of my soul and pleasure,” she wrote.

“I want to revolt in order to be a shahida near to God. I am not fleeing from life, but I want to defend Jerusalem,” she added. “I desire more to stand alongside my people. I do not know when I am leaving, I do not know what I can expect, but ... do not forget me and pray for me.”

A number of her friends told police officers she had also told them in conversations that she wanted to martyr herself.

Over the past few months, the young woman has also made a number of Facebook posts. In one dating from last June she wrote:

“To die a martyr / Absolution after death / Mercy on the day of judgment / Protection from suffering / To gain the Garden of Eden.”

At the end of the police investigation, State Prosecutor Shai Nitzan decided there was not enough evidence to charge her with a criminal offense. However, in light of the character and nature of the accumulated evidence against her, Ya’alon ordered her detained without trial as a preventative measure.

The defense minister made his decision after determining that it was almost certain the young woman would carry out her intentions or commit other serious crimes, and there was no other way of preventing such a danger to the public except by detaining her.

The law on administrative detention was passed in 1979, and requires the government to bring detainees to a hearing before the president of a district court within 48 hours, and have the administrative detention approved by the court. This hearing may be held in camera. Sometimes, a representative of the Shin Bet security service appears at the hearing and answers questions from the prisoner’s lawyers.

The evidence involved is considered confidential, and may be presented only to the judge; it may remain secret throughout the entire proceedings. A second court hearing must be held after three months of administrative detention. The defendant has the right to appeal the decision to the Supreme Court.

Nazareth District Court President Dr. Avraham Avraham stated in his decision that the woman had gradually developed the idea of carrying out a terrorist attack at least since June, and she was fully aware she may die in doing so.

The judge noted that such a threat must be evaluated in light of the events of recent days. “An administrative detention order causes serious harm to the freedom of a person, who has been detained even though they have not committed any violation of criminal law. But it’s a necessity that can’t be condemned in a case such as that brought before me,” said Avraham.

Such an order is “among the little the state is able to do to protect its citizens, whose security in these days has been severely harmed,” he added.

The woman’s attorney, Yazid Abu Ahmed, said the court did not give enough thought to the likelihood of the danger involved, and did not provide appropriate consideration to the woman’s circumstances. Ahmed said his client had only had thoughts that were never acted on and had no intention of doing so.

The woman intends to appeal the decision to the Supreme Court, Ahmed added.

The conditions for all prisoners being held without trial are set by regulations from 1981. These conditions are generally better than those afforded regular prisoners who have been convicted of crimes. The Supreme Court has previously ruled that such detainees must be provided with the best conditions possible, given the circumstances. By law, they are to be kept separate from regular prisoners and those being held in custody prior to trial.