Shin Bet Eases Stance on Questioning Israeli Political Activists Following Petition

‘Calling in political activists for friendly chats with the security service is not a practice that characterizes a democratic regime,’ the Association for Civil Rights in Israel says.

Sharon Pulwer
Sharon Pulwer
The arrest of Taleb Alturi and his sons Nidal and Rauf at a protest against the Prawer plan.
The arrest of Taleb Alturi and his sons Nidal and Rauf at a protest against the Prawer plan. Credit: Oren Ziv / Activestills.org
Sharon Pulwer
Sharon Pulwer

The Shin Bet has told political activists they no longer have to come in for questioning under caution when asked to, the security service has informed the High Court of Justice.

The Shin Bet was responding to a petition by the Association for Civil Rights in Israel against its practice of calling in political activists for questioning under caution as people who might be charged with a crime.

Instead, activists will be reminded of their rights, and the Shin Bet will have to consult with its legal counsel before calling anyone in.

These changes are only valid for activities the Shin Bet considers might be “subversive” they do not apply for suspected terror activity or spying.

Still, the Association for Civil Rights in Israel is not satisfied with the change. Ahead of a hearing on the matter, it says the Shin Bet repeatedly oversteps its legal authority and violates constitutional rights including freedom of expression.

“These talks have a repeating pattern,” ACRI lawyers wrote in the 2013 petition, stating that people questioned by the Shin Bet are asked about their political activities, jobs and acquaintances, as well as about other activists.

Also, they are told that the Shin Bet knows many personal details about them and is following their activities. In many cases, they are asked to supply names and phone numbers of relatives or acquaintances.

“Calling in political activists for friendly chats ‘over a cup of tea’ with the security service is not a practice that characterizes a democratic regime,” the Association for Civil Rights in Israel stated in the petition, charging that the practice is meant to “deter citizens from participating in protests that the regime does not like.”

The petition cited the case of a field-worker in the Negev Coexistence Forum who in June 2012 received a call from a policeman who asked him to come to a police station, from where he was referred to a Border Police base. He was put in a room with someone who told him he was a member of the Shin Bet.

According to the Association for Civil Rights in Israel, the field-worker was asked about his studies, work, friends, family and position on the Prawer Plan on resettling Negev Bedouin.

He then received another invitation, this one unsigned, to come to the police station. After the association sent an inquiry, the Shin Bet responded that he was not obliged to come in.

“This response attests to the urgent need for the honorable court to stop this harmful practice,” the association wrote. The petition mentions similar cases, including that of a left-wing activist at the Weizmann Institute of Science in Rehovot.

The state, in its response ahead of the hearing, said the Shin Bet was still operating within its authority.

Click the alert icon to follow topics:

Comments

SUBSCRIBERS JOIN THE CONVERSATION FASTER

Automatic approval of subscriber comments.

Subscribe today and save 40%

Already signed up? LOG IN

ICYMI

Crowds at Israel's Ben-Gurion International Airport, in April.

U.S. Official: West Bank Entry for Palestinian Americans Unrelated to Israeli Visa Waivers

Haaretz spoke with several people who said they had fled Ukraine, arrived in Israel,  and were asked to undergo DNA tests in order to establish paternity.

'My Jewish Grandmother Has a Number on Her Arm, Why Does Israel Greet Me This Way?'

FILE PHOTO: A Star of David hangs from a fence outside the dormant landmark Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh's Squirrel Hill neighborhood in 2021.

American Judaism Is in Decline. That's Great News for American Jews

People taking part in the annual "March of the Living" to commemorate the Holocaust, between the former death camps of Auschwitz and Birkenau in Oswiecim, Poland, four years ago.

It’s Not Just the Holocaust. Israel Is Failing to Teach the History of the Jews

 A Jewish cemetery in Warsaw, Poland.

Israel and Poland Fight Over History, Truth - and Israeli Students

A collage of the Bentwich family throughout the generations.

Unique Burial Plot in Jerusalem Tells Story of Extraordinary Jewish Dynasty