Israeli Right-wing Activist to Be Compensated After Shin Bet Used Forbidden Scare Tactics on Him

The police and the security service will pay A. $1,300 after he was detained without being told he was being held for questioning by the Shin Bet

Shin Bet head Nadav Argaman on June 9, 2017.
Olivier Fitoussi

The police and Shin Bet security service are to pay compensation to a right-wing activist for detaining him without informing him he was being held for questioning by the Shin Bet.

The two agencies recently reached a compromise by which the Shin Bet will pay a man identified as A., 20, from the West Bank settlement of Talmon, 4,500 shekels (nearly $1,300), instead of the 25,000 shekels he originally demanded. The agencies are not required to acknowledge the details of the incident, which took place in 2016. The compromise was approved by the Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court.

In September 2016, A., a student at a yeshiva in Migdal Ha’emek, arrived at an area near the Temple Mount in Jerusalem with his father and brother, who was celebrating his bar mitzvah. Although A. knew he was barred from the Temple Mount, he made his way to the security checkpoint and tried to continue on to the Mount. At the checkpoint, a police officer grabbed A.’s cellphone and detained him for questioning.

He was taken to the Kishleh headquarters of the Jerusalem District police where he was searched and taken for a “talk” with a Shin Bet agent brought to the station. Such a meeting is considered a warning in cases where no real suspicions can be pinpointed. A. was not told why he was being detained and only found out when he was taken to meet with the agent.

In February 2017 the High Court of Justice banned the practice of requiring right-wing political activists to undergo such warning talks, in which the Shin Bet summonses them for questioning in the guise of police questioning. In September 2017, Haaretz reported that the practice had not stopped. The incident with A. happened before the practice was outlawed.

A.’s attorney, Chaim Bleicher, of the right-wing legal aid organization Honenu, said: “Arrest or forced detention only for the purpose of a warning talk about public activities constitutes severe damage to the public and to the foundations of democracy. In this instance, detention without any prior announcement hurt the bar mitzvah celebration of an entire family. We hope that the compensation paid to the plaintiff will mean a change and recognition of the legitimate rights of Jews to act to bring the shekhina [spirit of God] to Jerusalem.”

The Jerusalem District police referred Haaretz to the Shin Bet for a response. The Shin Bet said: “A. was involved, before and after the incident that was the subject of his suit, in provocations around the Temple Mount, in a manner that endangers public safety. The process described took place in court and ended with a ruling by means of compromise, without the court having ruled on A.’s claims.”