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.

The announcement 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 state prosecutor.

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 [criminals].”

He added, “This is a war, and we will win this war.”

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 field.

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 down.

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