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Knesset forum debates restraining orders against settler activists
By Yonah Jeremy Bob
03/02/2014
Right-wing MKs confront security officials over cases such as that of Boaz Albert, barred from West Bank although he lives there.
 
Right-wing MKs confronted representatives of the Justice Ministry, the IDF and the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) in the Knesset Sunday over restraining and administrative orders issued to Jewish activists in the West Bank.

MKs Yariv Levin (Likud Beytenu) and Orit Struck (Bayit Yehudi) initiated the hearing, and said the full Knesset had decided that administrative detention and restraining orders “that involve punishment without a trial would not be used except in exceptional circumstances where there was a serious possibility of harm to state security.”

The Constitution, Law and Justice Committee, in its press release summary of the hearing, did not name names of activists who had been given such orders, but the most famous case is that of Boaz Albert. In 2013, the IDF issued an order preventing him from being in the West Bank, even though he lived there, effectively banning him from caring for his farm and living with his family for an extended period.

Albert was not informed of the reasons for the order at the time of its issuance, but after an extended delay – for which various judges criticized the state – he was indicted for allegedly harassing a group of Palestinian teenage girls. Albert has denied the allegation.

The order made headlines and came under heavy criticism from the Right, as did allegations that police improperly tasered Albert when arresting him in his home for violating the restraining order.

At the hearing, the committee demanded that IDF OC Central Command Maj.-Gen. Nitzan Alon develop a set criteria for issuing restraining and administrative detention orders in the West Bank. It also demanded that he report to the Knesset twice a year on how many such orders are issued.

At the same meeting, IDF Brig.-Gen. Ilan Malka reported that 13 such orders were issued in 2013, and 31 in 2012.

The Justice Ministry, IDF and Shin Bet said the orders were only issued with evidence, following careful legal review and in protection of the state.

As the recipients of restraining orders could have been involved in “price tag” attacks, UTJ MK Uri Maklev noted that “‘price tag’ is a very serious matter, and is not just property damage.

Rather, [the phenomenon] also harms holy places,” which Maklev implied could lead to stirring up instability in the Arab sector.

But according to a statement by the committee, Levin and Struck implied that the Justice Ministry, the IDF and the Shin Bet were administratively detaining activists for minor issues like spraying graffiti or causing minor property damage.

Struck indicated that detention and similar measures should only be used against real threats to the state, and not against what she characterized as minor crimes.

Levin said that the orders were “draconian and improper.” He added that their “use must not be subjective,” and implied that the only people being slapped with such orders in the country were Jewish residents in the West Bank.

Malka emphasized that the orders in question were “only issued on the basis of evidence,” saying that “we undertake many actions in order to establish an evidentiary basis.”

He also said that “there is a clear connection” between “price tag attacks” and “shooting terror attacks.”

Justice Ministry representative Shlomi Abramson said, “you are the legislators. If you think there should be no restraining order, take it out of the law!” He added that any such order issued by OC Central Command had to pass multiple levels of review, including by the head of the Shin Bet. Abramson said that some requests for special orders are denied, and the length of applicability of some orders are reduced, during this process.

The head of the Shin Bet wrote a letter to the committee saying that “the orders were issued because of a grave security threat.”

Tovah Lazaroff contributed to this story.
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