Israeli Defense Minister Orders Release of Jewish Teen From Administrative Detention

Sources in Bennett's office deny that he backtracked due to right-wing pressure, a day after signing the administrative detention order against 19-year-old Eliya Ben-David of Nof Hagail

Defense Minister Naftali Bennett
Emil Salman

Defense Minister Naftali Bennett decided on Tuesday to release a Jewish teen from administrative detention a day after signing an administrative arrest order against him. The detainee, 19-year-old Eliya Ben-David of the northern Israeli city of Nof Hagalil, is suspected of throwing a rock that injured a Palestinian motorist in the West Bank last November.

Ben-David was arrested last week on suspicion of involvement in the attack outside the settlement of Kokhav Hashahar and was denied access to a lawyer while in detention. On Monday, the Central District Court ordered his release, but Bennett then immediately signed the order placing him in administrative detention without trial for a month. The Shin Bet security service said the exceptional step was necessary because Ben-David, whom the agency described as “an extremist, violent figure,” posed a security threat.

Eliya Ben-David
Yair Uriel

The administrative detention order issued by Bennett, the leader of the right-wing Hayamin Hehadash party, prompted criticism on the right. Bennett’s office issued a statement Tuesday saying that he had ordered a reexamination of the administrative detention order in light of the court’s decision.

“In examining all of the considerations, including the detainee’s background, it became clear that a different, limited administrative measure could be imposed,” the statement said. Bennett’s revised order bars the suspect from entering the West Bank, but as far as is known, the assessment regarding the danger that he poses remains unchanged.

Sources in Bennett’s office denied that the shift in position was a result of public pressure. He signed the initial order before reading the district court ruling and ordered Ben-David’s release after studying the case in detail, they said.