(Editor’s Note: The author variously uses the terms GSS [General Security Services], Shin Bet, Shabak, ISA [Israel Security Agency]. They are all names for Israel’s internal security service.]
In western democracies, a person’s home is considered his castle. Therefore, if a government banishes a citizen from his home, the act must be based on a judicious interpretation of the law. The detainee must present a clear and present danger.
Chief Justice Aharon Barak, previous president of the Supreme Court, underscored his belief in this principle, albeit not from a perspective which protects the rights of Jewish nationalists. On July 15, 2002, Justice Barak ruled in the Ajuri case: ”Our point of departure is that in principle removing a person from his dwelling place and forcibly moving him someplace else causes serious harm to his self respect, his freedom, and his possessions. A person’s home is not only a roof over his head, it is the means for establishing his physical and social relationships. A number of a person’s basic human rights are harmed when he is forcibly removed to another place , even if such a move does not involve an international crossing.” Tragically, his legal opinion was rendered in relation to the protection of the civil and human rights of terrorists! The security services recommended their expulsion from Nablus to Gaza, and the Supreme Court ruled in favor of the terrorists.
Even the pro-Arab B’tselem human rights organization is unhappy about administrative detention/expulsion orders, stating: “Undoubtedly the state should act determinedly against ‘settlers’ who harm Palestinians and their property, but the way to achieve this is via criminal proceedings and not administrative orders that are based on confidential information.”
Few outside Israel’s nationalist sector recognize that these orders, which obviate due process and were held over from the British Mandate era, have been quietly resurrected and expanded in recent years. Currently, administrative detention is pursued under Order Number 1591, updated in 2007. It empowers military commanders in Judea and Samaria to detain a person for a maximum of six months when there is a “reasonable basis for believing that the security of the region or public security necessitates.” The order may be extended for an additional six months, with no maximum cumulative period specified. Within eight days a detainee must be brought before a military judge. Hearings in both the lower and appellate court are held in camera. The judge is not bound by the regular rules of evidence. A judge may admit evidence without revealing that evidence to the detainee’s representative.
When dealing with Arabs residing in Judea and Samaria–many overtly belligerent to Israel– orders of administrative detention become a powerful weapon in the arsenal of the security forces. But they are abused when they are used as a political tool to silence Jewish nationalists. Political science professor and expert on international law Louis Rene Beres writes: “The point of these orders, of course, has been to quash anti-government dissent in various West Bank (Judea/Samaria) Jewish communities. In issuing these orders, the IDF generally works together with ISS [Israel Security Services] or the Shin Bet. Designated recipients are not informed as to the precise reason for the orders, nor have they any formal right of appeal.” A nation which takes pride in its adherence to basic democratic principles–the protection of its citizens’ civil/human rights– can ill afford to enact orders which are in direct contravention of these rights.
Administrative detention/expulsion orders aim to achieve political results under the guise of national security interests. Right wing nationalists are opposed to the leadership’s policy of “land for peace.” Living in Judea and Samaria, they literally stand guard over Israel’s heartland. Their presence is an obstacle to creating a Palestinian controlled (terror) state. Detention/expulsion orders are used to intimidate, frustrate and hamper Jewish patriots. The orders are specifically referred to as Harchakah Minhalit (administrative removal).
Once they set their sights on a Jewish nationalist target, the Israel Security Agency utilizes a variety of methods. It may move the process forward quickly by citing ‘information’ which requires immediate detention or expulsion. Gleaned mostly through unsubstantiated intel in the first place, (which is often fabricated) the cases rarely lead to formal indictments, with many charges quietly dropped. Sometimes, they dangle incentives before those identified as more likely to succumb to pressure. For instance, they may offer to pay for everyday necessities to ease a family’s financial burdens. Lately the security services have employed a new tool of harassment–arresting those who come home after midnight!
The deleterious and human costs of banishment from one’s family cannot be underestimated. Many families lose their sole support and struggle financially and emotionally for months on end. These orders are designed to break the internal fortitude of the detainees and their families.
Following are just a few examples of cases (there were many more) from the first two weeks of August 2011 that lawyers from the organization Honenu have been called upon to defend. (Honenu is the go-to address for those ensnared by these orders, cherry picked from the dustbin of pre-state history.)
On August 2, hundreds of police and GSS agents raided Yitzhar and other local communities in Judea and Samaria. They distributed Administrative Detention orders, barring residents from either entering or staying in Judea and Samaria. Five days later, Calev Blanc, one of those exiled, was arrested while driving on Highway 4. Detectives took him away without detailing the reason and without showing him an arrest warrant. On the same day, a yeshiva student in Yitzhar, without warning, was arrested at the gate of his school by special police forces, again with no reason given. Later on that same day, Honenu attorney Adi Kedar reported that two detainees were being held at the GSS interrogating facilities in Petah Tikvah, subject to humiliating conditions, on a par with those reserved for hardened terrorists. They were separated from each other and held in tiny cells with no bed or toilet.
Three days later, a 6:30 a.m., a policeman from the Ariel station arrived at the home of Itamar resident Daniel Ben-Avraham and delivered a summons for “a discussion at the GSS facility in Petah Tikvah”. When he arrived at GSS headquarters his interrogator hinted that if Ben-Avraham incriminated Calev Blanc, then the interrogators would help him enlist in the IDF, as well as ‘assist’ him with other matters. Ben-Avraham refused to cooperate. Obviously, Calev Blanc was identified as a higher value target, whereas Ben-Avraham, just as clearly, was singled out as a more pliable subject.
Twenty-six year old Akiva HaCohen and his wife Ayelet, the parents of four and expecting another child, cannot escape the grip of the security services. The security services have targeted Akiva since his mid-teens. He entered their radar for the ‘crime’ of placing nationalist posters within Judea and Samaria and has been harassed ever since. Over the last decade he has been given administrative detention orders numerous times and banished from Judea and Samaria for months on end. He has never been brought before a court of law, given specific reasons for his expulsion, nor charged with any crimes. In August the security services came to his home in Yitzhar–at 4:30 a.m.– to advise him of another administrative detention decree again without specific reason or charge. As a result, Akiva has to deal with the disruption in his life, find another apartment for himself and his family, and find a way to absorb the additional costs since must continue to pay the mortgage on his newly built home in Yitzhar. Furthermore, he now has to pay an unexpected salary to a manager to tend his wheat farm and vineyard.
One administrative order upon another, the Shin Bet hopes to break the spirits of those believing in Jewish rights to Judea and Samaria. Supreme Court Judge, Ayala Procaccia, a vociferous advocate for government crackdown on nationalist dissenters, coined the term an ‘ideologically motivated criminal.’ In this anti-democratic perspective, to have nationalist beliefs is to be a criminal. Until the harassment and persecution for ‘thought crimes’ itself becomes illegal, nationalist Jews will be unable to live freely as Jews in the Jewish homeland.
While the mistreatment of Jewish residents of Judea and Samaria, more often than not, stems from administrative detention arrests, this is not exclusively so, as the case of Chaim Perlman illustrates. Perlman, age 30, was arrested on July 14, 2010. He later charged that he was handcuffed for 18 hours a day during his 31 day interrogation. Finally the court accepted Honenu’s arguments and forced Perlman’s release to house arrest. Judge Nachum Sternlicht stated, “I haven’t seen any evidence that could serve to convict Perlman.” Undeterred, agents brought Perlman to an identification line up where his Honenu appointed lawyer was not allowed to be present. Incredibly, twelve years after the alleged crime, an Arab was suddenly found to pick Perlman out of a line up. Mercifully, the authorities nonetheless lost their case and Perlman was released. The Shin Bet wanted revenge on Perlman because one of their most unsavory techniques had backfired. Perlman, who had been hired by the Shabak to provoke conflict with the Arabs, had ideas of his own. He taped over 20 hours of discussion with his handlers as they pressured him to commit crimes against Arabs. Presumably, their intention was to incite the general public against the supposedly out-of-control settler community.
These are just a tiny sampling of the trials and tribulations suffered by countless Jewish residents of Judea and Samaria because of their vocal efforts to save the Jewish heartland. One cannot help but wonder what would their fate would be without the immediate capable assistance and intervention of Honenu’s legal defense association. For further information about Honenu go to its website, www.honenu.org. For those who would like to hear more about the association, spokesman Shalom Pollack is currently scheduling his next series of programs for the US in November.
Adina Kutnicki, a life-long Zionist, made aliyah in the summer of 2008. Her articles can be found at www.israelnationalnews.com/Articles/Author.aspx/451