Shin Bet Exploits 'Emergency Rules' in 17 Percent of Detainee Cases, MKs Told

The Shin Bet security service has interrogated 270 detainees from Gaza since the beginning of the year, officials told the Knesset Constitution, Law and Justice Committee yesterday. In one out of six cases, or 17 percent, the Shin Bet used extraordinary measures, as permitted by emergency regulations.

The Shin Bet said that in 44 cases it delayed bringing a detainee before a judge for 48 hours; in three of those cases the delay was 72 hours, and in one case, 96 hours passed before the detainee was brought before a judge. In 16 of the cases, the Shin Bet made use of the option to extend a detainee's remand a second time while not in his presence.

The Shin Bet is seeking an 18-month extension on the temporary emergency provisions that allow such unusual procedures, which are due to expire at the end of the year. Committee chairman MK Menahem Ben-Sasson (Kadima) said he would not call for an immediate vote on the extension, as it is necessary to consider limiting the broad authority granted to the Shin Bet.

The emergency order also has allowed the service to arrest Gaza residents even after the disengagement and the end of military rule in the Strip. The Shin Bet has been given more extensive powers than those of ordinary arrest and detention, in order to thwart terror attacks. For example, a suspect may not be brought so speedily before a judge if a senior Shin Bet officer has determined that stopping an interrogation for this purpose would seriously impair it.

The Military Advocate General (MAG) sent the committee a document stating its opposition to extending the emergency regulations. In it, MAG argued that the orders "impair basic human rights such as the right to personal liberty, the right to remain silent, the right to an attorney, etc."