Right-wing Activist Says Shin Bet Misled Him, Violated High Court Ruling

The 19-year-old says the Shin Bet security service broke the law by summoning him to a warning talk while leading him to believe it was a mandatory police summons

Hagar Shezaf
Hagar Shezaf
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Right-wing activists demonstrating against the Shin Bet security service in 2018.
Right-wing activists demonstrating against the Shin Bet security service in 2018.Credit: Meged Gozani
Hagar Shezaf
Hagar Shezaf

A 19-year-old right-wing activist says he was summoned two weeks ago by the Shin Bet security service without being advised, as required by a 2017 High Court ruling, that he was not required to attend.

The Shin Bet reportedly sought to meet the activist, whose first name is Yitzhak and who asked not to be identified in full, to warn him about his activities. Yitzhak told Haaretz that the security agency used a police summons form, which is mandatory to comply with, unlike a Shin Bet form.

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He said he believed he was required to report and was not told that he was free to leave the police station whenever he liked. The summons was issued about a month after the Justice Ministry ordered the Shin Bet to make its rules for agency personnel clearer after another right-wing activist had been summoned under similar circumstances.

Yitzhak, who is from the northern town of Safed, says police officers came to his home while he was away at work, handed a summons to his mother and said he had to report to the police. He says this was his first summons for a warning talk, and that he arrived at the police station at around the same time as two Shin Bet agents in civilian clothes.

He told them he wanted to leave but they refused to open the gate for him, he says, adding that he then consulted his lawyer. Finally, a Shin Bet agent named “Illouz” spoke to him for around an hour; Yitzhak says he remained silent during the meeting.

Yitzhak is a member of the group Lehava, known in part for discouraging Jewish Israelis from marrying Arab Israelis, and of Hotzrim Lahar, which on Facebook calls itself a “movement for the redemption of the Temple Mount.”

He says Illouz told him he was spending time with “problematic people” and advised him to stay away from them.

Yitzhak filed a complaint with the Justice Ministry unit that handles complaints against the Shin Bet. It was filed on his behalf by Menashe Yadoo, a lawyer with the right-wing legal aid group Honenu.

The High Court of Justice rules, the prosecution voices criticism, but the Shin Bet keeps on going,” Yadoo said, adding that the security agency “is trying to exploit its advantage over young kids to take illegal steps against them, to infringe on their freedoms – on their right to privacy and right to dignity.”

In response, the Shin Bet said it is “responsible for protecting the country’s security … democratic government and institutions from threats including terrorism and sabotage. As part of these agency roles, Yitzhak was summoned for questioning. By the nature of things, additional details cannot be provided.”

Earlier this month, the Justice Ministry unit ruled in favor of another right-wing activist, Shmuel Adani. The ministry found that Adani had been summoned for a warning talk with the Shin Bet without being told that he had no obligation to attend, and that the agency had violated the High Court ruling. The Justice Ministry unit did not take disciplinary actions against the Shin Bet members involved.

The summons in this case, in August 2017, was also represented as being from the police. In that case too, only when the recipient appeared was he told that it a meeting with the Shin Bet.

Supreme Court Justice Elyakim Rubinstein ruled that invitations to speak with the Shin Bet are possible if “it is made clear to the subject that this is voluntary questioning and that he is not obligated to appear.”

In Rubinstein’s decision, which followed a petition against the Shin Bet by the Association for Civil Rights in Israel, the judge ruled that when the Shin Bet questions people who are not criminal suspects, they must be advised that their remarks cannot be used against them in court.

Also, they must be told that the summons will not be issued on a form used for criminal suspects, “as the use of such a form might mislead the subject that this is a real [criminal] interrogation.”