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Israel’s security agency opposes bill giving Ben Gvir power of administrative detention

Opposition to expanding its role is due to threat of endangering individual rights

Israeli Minister of National Security Itamar Ben Gvir and Head of Jerusalem police district Doron Turgeman at National Security offices in Jerusalem June 15, 2023. (Photo: Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Following a growing wave of violence in the Israeli Arab sector, a bill was proposed last week which would give Israeli National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir the authority to order administrative detention of Israeli citizens and permanent residents for up to one year, even without being charged with a crime.

The bill, sponsored by Jewish Power party Knesset Member Zvika Fogel, would grant Ben Gvir the power to issue an administrative detention order if he believes there is a “near certain possibility of real damage to public safety if that person is not detained.”

The bill would also give the national security minister power to restrict a person from a specific place, to prevent their departure from the country, and even restrict their internet usage.

Fogel said the bill was necessary to ensure “public safety.”

“The defense minister and chief of staff were given powers to issue administrative detention orders for reasons of state security or public safety,” Fogel said, adding that the current crime wave qualifies as an issue of public safety.

"In a situation where the police have intelligence information regarding a possible serious crime about to be committed, but without solid evidence, the police do not have the tools to arrest those suspects as a preventative measure. A temporary order would permit the Israel Police to allow the use of these tools in cases of serious crime. . . This will help the Israel Police to prevent high-level criminals from perpetrating a crime, thereby greatly reducing violence and harm to the innocent,” Fogel added.

While Attorney General Gali Baharav-Miara has already expressed her opposition to the bill, over the weekend, local media suggested that the Israel Security Agency (ISA), or Shin Bet, will also oppose the draft legislation.

In Israel, only the minister of defense has the authority to order administrative detention in cases where there is reasonable suspicion that a person poses a security risk to the state. In addition, the defense minister can only order administrative detention for 6 months.

Last week, Israel’s Channel 13 news also reported that Justice Minister Yariv Levin would oppose an attempt by Ben Gvir and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to involve Shin Bet in its efforts to combat violence in the Arab sector.

Shin Bet warned against becoming involved in efforts to stop criminal violence, saying that its primary function must remain to focus on the threat of terrorism.

“We are still helping the police today, but it is wrong to turn the ISA into an organization that investigates criminal offenses,” said Shin Bet Chief Ronen Bar.

Shin Bet currently cooperates with the Israel Police in investigating attacks on government institutions or cases that deal with illegal weapons.

Bar also expressed concern that the identity of operatives could be compromised if the organization cooperates too often with the police.

The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.

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