In Unusual Step, Shin Bet Detains Settler Activist Without Trial After Court Ordered His Release

The extremist 'hilltop youth' is suspected of a long list of crimes, including membership in a terrorist organization, arson and vandalism

Yotam Berger
Yotam Berger
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Yotam Berger
Yotam Berger

A young right-wing activist was released from jail on Monday by the Central District Court in Lod, and the Shin Bet security service issued an administrative detention order to hold him without charges the next day. The order is in effect for two months.

This is an unusual step by the Shin Bet, because such a detention order – which must be signed by the defense minister – allows it to hold a suspect without the permission of a judge and without presenting to the court its evidence in the case. Such an order is meant to hold those who are the immediate suspects in carrying out attacks, and is not supposed to be used to bypass court decisions.

The youth’s name may not be published due to a gag order. He was arrested last week along with another suspect, and since his arrest he has been investigated on suspicions of involvement in hate crimes against Palestinians. He is suspected of a long list of crimes, including membership in a terrorist organization, arson and vandalism of vehicles and other property, as well as other crimes with racist motives.

The Shin Bet said that at its recommendation, Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman ordered the administrative detention without charges against the suspect, an extremist “hilltop youth” who is involved in violent actions and endangers lives.

The decision to detain the boy was the result of months of serious and continued activities on his part, including damaging property and using severe violence against Israelis, Palestinians and the security forces, said the Shin Bet.

One of the most extreme

The suspect is known as a central activist in the unauthorized outposts and has recently been spending his time there, said the Shin Bet. He is one of the most extreme and violent of those activists in the outposts, and the activities of the “rebellion” group he belongs to have escalated and become more severe, they added.

The court extended the detention of the second suspect on Monday, approving the decision of the magistrate’s court in his case; it ordered the other suspect released to house arrest.

Judge Nava Bechor wrote explicitly in her ruling that no progress had been made in recent days in the case against the youth, who is now in administrative detention, and the case against him was no stronger than before. The fact that the second suspect was remanded for a further period of investigation most likely shows that the police and Shin Bet have significant intelligence information against him.

This is presently the only administrative detention order in effect against a Jew, says the Shin Bet. In addition, another 30 administrative restraining orders are in effect against suspects that keep them from entering certain areas or making contact with certain people. These orders are used against right-wing activists and enable the security forces to keep them out of the West Bank and prevent them from staying in contact with one another. Such orders are issued without the normal judicial process and require the signature of the general in charge of the IDF’s Central Command.

The youth’s attorney, long-time Kahanist activist Itamar Ben-Gvir, said Lieberman and the Shin Bet have crossed a red line and committed an unconscionable act. “When the magistrate’s court ordered my client released and ruled there is no evidence, and the district court judge reiterated the ruling the Shin Bet broke the rules of the game and harmed my client without a trial, without proof or evidence. It seems Lieberman thinks we are under a KGB regime and I hope the court will not allow this farce,” said Ben-Gvir.

Settlers in a number of extreme right-wing outposts in the West Bank have reported an increase in actions by the security forces against them in recent weeks.

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