Reprinted from Gush Shalom
Three suspected terrorists have already been arrested under this procedure.
They are members of a group following the teachings of Rabbi Meir Kahane (the leader is actually his grandson). Kahane was an American Rabbi who came to this country and founded a group branded by the Supreme Court as racist and anti-democratic. It was outlawed. He was later assassinated by an Arab in the US. An underground group of his followers is now active in Israel.
This is one of the groups which belong to a clandestine movement, generally called "Price Tag" or "Hilltop Youth," that has conducted various acts of terrorism, setting fire to Christian churches and Muslim mosques, attacking Arab farmers and destroying their olive trees. None of the perpetrators has ever been apprehended, either by the army, which acts as a police force in the occupied territories, nor by the police in Israel proper. Many army officers are themselves residents of settlements in the occupied West Bank, which are illegal under international law.
The Israeli public has paid little attention to these outrages, but lately things have happened that shocked even complacent Israelis. One was the firebombing of an Arab dwelling in the small village of Douma in the West Bank. Under cover of darkness, a fire bomb was thrown into the home of a poor Arab family. An 18 month-old baby was burned to death, his father, mother and brother were seriously injured. The father later died in hospital.
Such acts of firebombing are quite usual, though until now the Arab families succeeded in saving themselves.
Another outrage was committed in Jerusalem -- against Jews. An ultra-orthodox Jew attacked the annual gay pride march in the center of the city. He succeeded in stabbing several marchers, one of whom -- a 16 year-old girl -- later died of her wounds. The perpetrator had done exactly the same 10 years ago. He served a long prison term, was released a few weeks ago and did it again. He is an ultra-orthodox Jew, but seemingly has no connection with the Kahanist gang.
This was too much. For years, no one was ever indicted for acts of Jewish terrorism. Many believe that the acts were committed in collusion with the occupation army and the Shin Bet, the interior security service. Now, however, there is a public outcry, and the authorities have come to the conclusion that they must do something.
Hence, the administrative detention orders.
ADMINISTRATIVE ARRESTS are a legacy of the British colonial regime that ruled Palestine until May 1948. The Israeli state took it over, changing only some minor aspects.
This form of arrest allows a military commander to put a person in prison without trial. The warrant is in force for six months, but can be renewed without limit. Every few months the prisoner must be brought before a regular judge, but judges interfere only on rare occasions. Mentally, Israeli judges stand at attention when a military officer testifies.
The prisoners have no right to see the evidence against them or confront their accusers, nor are they allowed to be represented by attorney. The official reason is that they cannot be put on trial without "burning" informants and other sources of valuable information that are vital to effectively combat terrorism and save lives.
THIS INSTRUMENT is used all the time against Arab suspects. At this moment, many hundreds of Arab administrative prisoners fill the prisons, some of them have been in custody for many years. Since the beginning of the occupation in 1967, hundreds of thousands of Arabs have been incarcerated under this act. For young Palestinians, this is almost a badge of honor.
Hardly any Jew has ever been held in administrative detention. For many years now, this means has not been used against Jews at all. The three Kahanists who were sent to prison this week are the first for a very long time.
Military and civilian officials explain this kind of detention as an essential and irreplaceable means to combat Jewish terrorism. All the Kahanists and other fascist perpetrators are trained to be silent under interrogation. Since they are sure that they will not be tortured, they have no reason to talk. They laugh in the faces of their interrogators.