Palestinian Claims Shin Bet Forcing Him to Become Collaborator

An administrative detainee says the Shin Bet is trying to force him into becoming a collaborator by branding him as one - and are thus endangering his life.

The Shin Bet incarcerated Iyad Milham, 29, with Israeli and Palestinian criminal prisoners, including a Shin Bet collaborator.

They declared him a person "requiring protection" as part of the pressure to turn him into a collaborator, Milham said.

In the last six months, Milham has petitioned various courts to imprison him with other administrative detainees.

Although he has confessed to security offenses, he has not been charged with any. Instead, his administrative custody has been extended.

Milham said a Shin Bet interrogator has told him explicitly that holding him in administrative custody without charging him, while his cell mates are indicted, will make them think he is a collaborator.

Milham said he feels threatened among the criminal prisoners. He rejected the Prison Service's offer to lock him up with security prisoners requiring protection.

In an unusual move, Milham decided to disclose his name and grievances against the Shin Bet in a petition to the High Court of Justice, which held an open-door hearing on the case on June 9. Palestinians who report Shin Bet attempts to enlist them as collaborators prefer not to expose themselves, for fear of being suspected as collaborators.

Attorney Tamar Peleg, of Hamoked Center for the Defense of the Individual, who represents Milham, asked in court how a detainee defined as "endangering the region's security" could be defined at the same time as being in danger from other administrative detainees.

She asked how he could be held with criminal prisoners against his will and against the detention regulations, stipulating that an administrative detainee should be held apart from convicted prisoners and from prisoners awaiting trial.

Milham, a laborer and father of two from Qalqilyah, was arrested on December 11, 2003. Since January 28 he has been held in administrative custody.

Milham told the military judges several times that he admitted security offenses - two fire extinguishers with explosives in them were found in his house; three years earlier, he fired at a tank in Qalqilyah and recruited others to the Al Aqsa Brigades.

In his statement, he said: "An interrogator called Herzl said they want me to work for them. I told him I won't and can't, I'm from a good family and it is not appropriate. I was asked to work with the Shin Bet several times during the interrogation. Every time I refused Herzl said, `If you don't want to do it voluntarily, we will force you, we will make your friends think you're a collaborator, they will be charged and you will be administrative.'"

"I also understand they put me with people who need protection for this purpose," he added.

The High Court judges accepted the arguments, which were made behind closed doors and are confidential, to keep Milham in administrative custody, although Judge Ayala Procaccia said it was grave that under these circumstances no charges were brought against Milham.

District Court Judge Zvi Gurfinkel received the classified arguments to define Milham as "requiring protection" on June 23 and rejected his petition.

"The information is sensitive and cannot be detailed ... but the reports show there are grounds to define the petitioner as requiring protection ... although usually administrative detainees should be imprisoned with others who committed the same kind of crimes and certainly not with criminal prisoners, since the petitioner requires protection, he must be kept where he is being held." Despite the ruling, administrative detainees are not imprisoned on the basis of offenses they allegedly committed.

On June 10, a day after the High Court hearing, military commander Colonel Roni Numa extended Milham's administrative detention order by another six months.

However, on June 22, the military prosecution asked the military appeals tribunal to approve an extended detention of only one month, during which it will examine pressing charges against Milham.

It is extremely rare for the military prosecution to ask the appeals tribunal to shorten an administrative custody.