Bedouin’s Release to House Arrest Delayed for Lack of Cellphone Reception

The house arrest of a resident of a Bedouin village has been delayed because it does not have a suitable infrastructure for electronic monitoring

The Bedouin market in Beer Sheva
Eliyahu Hershkowitz

The release to house arrest of a resident of the Negev Bedouin town of Tel Sheva has been delayed for three weeks because the Bezeq Israel Telecommunication Corp., which provides support for electronic monitoring, is not installing a suitable infrastructure in the community.

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Bezeq explained that the land line that was installed there in the past was stolen or destroyed, so the company installed wireless communication, but that doesn’t enable the use of electronic monitoring.

Fadel Abu Taha, 19, was indicted last month for a series of alleged crimes, including kidnapping for the purpose of murder or extortion, robbery under aggravated circumstances, extortion by force and an indecent act. The State Prosecutor’s Office decided with Abu Taha’s attorney, Lail Patishi, to examine alternatives to imprisonment. Patishi said that the only way to release him from prison is house arrest in his mother’s home in Tel Sheva. Judge Amit Cohen then instructed the Israel Prison Service to check whether Abu Taha could be released with electronic monitoring.

Abu Taha’s mother, who had no Bezeq line in her house, that same day ordered the installation of infrastructure that is crucial for operating the electronic surveillance. Abu Taha’s mother asked Bezeq to speed up the installation, and received the following reply from a company representative: “From my examination with the responsible parties in the company, it turns out that in Tel Sheva there is no regular infrastructure for connecting phone lines, only radio infrastructures. A line of this type cannot support electronic monitoring.”

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Despite the representative’s answer, Haaretz has learned that in the past, detainees were released to house arrest with electronic surveillance in the neighborhood where Abu Taha’s mother lives. In response to a question from Haaretz, the Bezeq spokesman’s office said, “The picture of the communications lines in the city is very crazy, and therefore in the past the accused were able to remain in the neighborhood with electronic monitoring.”

At the same time, the company wrote that the reply of the company representative to Abu Taha’s mother was “a poor response.” The company also said: “Due to numerous thefts of communications infrastructure in Tel Sheva, and after receiving the suitable permits, Bezeq has begun to lay down wireless infrastructure in the community.” However, Bezeq noted that it does not know whether the IPS electronic surveillance is supported by a wireless infrastructure.

After Bezeq’s response Haaretz turned to the IPS spokesman’s office and asked whether the electronic surveillance can be supported by a wireless infrastructure. The IPS replied that the wireless infrastructure is not unsuitable, but “it doesn’t bring the wired support that is almost 100 percent stable.” The IPS added that the organization explained to the court that a land line is more durable. But they don’t rule out release to electronic surveillance supported by a wireless network.

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After the answers given to Haaretz, Patishi recommended to Abu Taha’s mother to speed up the installation of the wireless infrastructure, and it was installed a few days ago. Representatives of G-ONE, who check the possibility of using electronic monitoring for the IPS, arrived at the mother’s house on June 19. According to a report sent by the company to the court: “In the place we checked there’s a Bezeq wireless infrastructure, in addition to that there’s no cellular network coverage and therefore it’s impossible to install electronic supervision at the site.”

Bezeq said in reply: “Despite repeated attempts to install a land line in the above-mentioned location, we repeatedly encountered deliberate sabotage that damaged the infrastructure designed for the welfare of the residents. Unfortunately, we were forced to install a wireless infrastructure for a considerable sum, with the approval of the regulatory agencies, in order to enable the residents to receive communications services.”

The IPS reply: “The capabilities for the electronic supervision system are not determined by the IPS and the IPS is unable to influence them.”