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MK Uri Ariel (National Union-NRP) on Monday accused the government of issuing administrative restraining orders on a massive scale against Jews living in the West Bank and Israel whom it suspects of planning to use violence against Palestinians.
"You are not acting proportionally, you are acting with complete irresponsibility and making perverse use of your powers," Ariel accused Shai Nitzan, Deputy State Attorney in Charge of Special Tasks and West Bank military government legal adviser Col. Yair Lotstein, during a Knesset Law Committee meeting.
Ariel initiated Monday's meeting, which was the third on the issue held so far by the committee.
The military government in the West Bank and government officials inside Israel, began distributing the administrative restraining orders some two months ago. So far, 20 have been issued and 16 are currently in force for periods of between two months and one year, Nitzan told the committee. At the same time, about 710 Palestinians are currently being held in administrative detention.
None of the Jews are being held in administrative detention. Those living in Israel have been banned from entering the administered territories. Two of the settlers have been placed under house arrest. The rest of the settlers have been removed from their homes and placed in homes in the vicinity of Ariel and Ma'aleh Adumim. They are free to move around in specific areas of the West Bank.
Nitzan told the committee that the Shin Bet has gathered convincing evidence against all of them that they posed a threat to public order and safety. Since the evidence could not be disclosed for fear that that it would uncover intelligence sources, the procedure had to be administrative and preventive rather than criminal and punitive.
He added that these administrative tools were anchored in laws which the Knesset had legislated, emphasizing that Ariel and other MKs were criticizing the government for implementing laws that parliament itself had passed.
Since the security forces could not reveal the precise charges against each suspect, they presented a "paraphrase" of the allegations so that each one could have some idea of why he was being restrained.
Before issuing a restraining order, Nitzan continued, the request must first be approved by the legal adviser of the Shin Bet and the legal adviser of the officer in command of the territories. In the case of Jews facing the possibility of administrative measures, the decision to apply them must also be approved by Nitzan. This condition does not apply to Palestinian suspects except in difficult cases.
Anyone issued an administrative order has access to review instances, Nitzan continued. First, the West Bank military commander must inform the suspect that he is considering issuing a restraining order against him. The suspect then has a week to ask for a hearing before the commander. Once the order against him has been issued, the suspect may appeal to a military court of appeals. If the military court rejects the appeal, he may petition the High Court of Justice.
According to Nitzan, only four of the suspects had appealed to the military court of appeals. After being turned down by the appeals court, two of the suspects had petitioned the High Court.
Naomi Ofan, from the settlement of Yitzhar, bitterly told the committee that there was no point in appealing the orders because "there is no justice. The judges bow before the Shin Bet." She also rejected Nitzan's statement that the suspects were given some idea of why they were being restrained.
Benzy Lieberman, Chairman of the Council of Jewish Communities in Judea and Samaria, protested against comparing the number of Jews vis-a-vis Palestinians held under administrative constraints. He said the Palestinians were suspected of terrorism whereas the Jews were suspected of committing violence. "There is a substantial difference between the two," said Lieberman.