‘Totally illegal and morally wrong’ – lawmakers blast indefinite arrests of Israeli youth

Administrative detention should only be used to prevent impending terror attacks, not “settle scores” with suspected lawbreakers, says Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich.

By Lauren Marcus, World Israel News

Lawmakers from the Religious Zionism party blasted reports that additional administrative detention orders will be issued in the coming days, targeting Israeli youth believed to be involved in riots in Palestinian Authority-controlled enclaves in Judea and Samaria.

Administrative detention is a procedure in which suspects are arrested and held for an indefinite amount of time, without being criminally charged and unable to access legal counsel.

Israel typically uses administrative detention against individuals who are suspected to be actively planning or involved in terror attacks, and the measure is meant to be a “last resort” option to prevent imminent harm to state security.

Last week, the Shin Bet security agency issued administrative detention orders against four Israelis who are believed to have torched vehicles in a Palestinian village, following a deadly terror attack that left four Israelis dead near Eli.

According to an Army Radio report, Defense Minister Yoav Gallant (Likud) is planning to authorize additional indefinite arrests for people thought to have been involved in similar rioting in the towns of Turmus-Ayya and Umm Safa.

Some of the arrestees currently held in administrative detention are suspected of having participated in rioting in Huwara in February, following the murders of the Yaniv brothers.

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Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich slammed the news that more Israelis will likely be detained indefinitely in the near future.

The politician said that lawmakers should be subject to prosecution, but that the measure should only be used to stop impending harm to public safety – not in standard criminal procedures.

“The use of administrative arrests against settlers is democratically and morally wrong,” Smotrich wrote on his Twitter account.

“When [administrative detention] is not to prevent future risk, but to settle accounts with the detainees for past acts attributed to them, that is totally illegal,” he added.

National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir also issued a blistering statement against the practice, claiming that there was a double standard for Arab and Jewish criminals.

When it comes to “organized, murderous and armed crime militias in Arab society, of which intelligence reports indicate serious dangers, [there is] no activation of the Shin Bet, nor administrative detention,” Ben-Gvir wrote on his Twitter.

“Boys suspected of setting fire to property (a crime worthy of resolute condemnation and police treatment) – immediately the Shin Bet [gets involved] and [we see] administrative detention.”