Attorney-General Yehuda Weinstein on Wednesday night rejected Public Security
Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch’s request to use administrative detention in the
fight against organized crime.
Despite heavy pressure and a public
campaign by Aharonovitch, Weinstein said the government would continue to limit
administrative detention to security-terror cases and that he had received an
opinion that equally efficient and less constitutionally problematic means
existed for fighting organized crime.
Administrative detention is
indefinite detention without formal trial or regular charges, though military
judges can approve specific periods of detention.
followed intensive discussions that began in mid-November among Justice Minister
Tzipi Livni, Aharonovitch, Police Insp.-Gen. Yohanan Danino and Weinstein about
how to combat a recent uptick in mob violence, including the car-bombing of a
At the time, all major law-enforcement officials said
that organized crime had crossed a red line and that the state’s counterattack
would be much harsher than usual.
Aharonovitch gave multiple interviews
to double down on his wish to use administrative detention and other more
aggressive measures to fight crime. At the Journalists’ Association’s conference
in Eilat on Tuesday, he declared that “our intention is to take them [criminals]
off the street. I need to worry about the citizens and not about them
He added, “This is a war, and we will win this
To date in Israel, the government says it uses administrative
detention in rare circumstances for foreign terrorists, such as Hamas agents,
and only to prevent them from committing future crimes or in cases where
presenting the evidence at trial would expose intelligence sources in the
Even using the measure against foreign terrorists is highly
controversial and is rarely done in Western democracies. The US and Israel are
among the few countries that have used it, but it has never been used to fight
domestic crime, such as organized crime.
Such criminals must be brought
to trial and can only be detained for defined periods that civilian courts set