(photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)
In the wake of an uptick in mob violence, Public Security Minister Yitzhak
Aharonovitch (Likud Beytenu) has called for “preventative arrests” against
criminal figures along the lines of the administrative detentions used to fight
“Our intention is to take [criminals] off the street,”
Aharonovitch said Tuesday at a conference of the Journalists Association in
“I need to worry about the citizens and not about them [the
criminals]. This is a war and we will win this war.”
It was a statement
similar to one he made Saturday night during an interview on Channel 2, in which
he said that “in a war you use all the tools. There are tools I have requested –
budget increases and to allow the police to use administrative
An official at the Public Security Ministry said Tuesday
that Aharonovitch is in favor of “preventative arrests... carried out before the
commission of a crime, which is permitted if it is for the sake of public
The official added that “if people are going to describe these
organizations as being like terror groups, then they need to be treated like
Despite Aharonovitch’s statements, one government source
said Tuesday that administrative detention was “not being discussed.”
source said that while many more aggressive measures were under discussion
following last Thursday’s attempted car bombing in Tel Aviv of a prosecutor
working on cases against organized crime, administrative detention was not one
of the measures.
Another source said that Aharonovitch’s words might have
been taken out of context.
Administrative detention is indefinite
detention without formal trial or even regular charges, although military judges
can approve specific periods of detention.
The government says it is used
in rare circumstances for foreign terrorists, such as Hamas members, to prevent
them from committing future crimes or where presenting evidence at a trial would
expose intelligence sources in the field.
Administrative detention is
highly controversial and rarely used in Western democracies, with Israel and the
US being among those nations employing it.
It has never been used to
fight domestic crimes, which must be brought to trial, the suspects being
detained only for defined periods by civilian courts.
comments on Saturday were billed as a speech aimed at reassuring the public that
the state was going to respond strongly to the car bomb attacks and other
activities by crime families. Administrative detention was only one of many
measures he mentioned.
Gabi Lasky, a human rights lawyer, said the use of
administrative detention for the domestic crimes should be be “prohibited,”
adding that it could “damage democracy.”
Lasky said that even if the
state promised to use it only against the worst offenders in organized crime,
there was a “slippery slope, and eventually it could lead to getting rid of
She added that “the choice of administrative detention”
would show the “bankruptcy of the police” and mean they are “not properly doing
their job and need more funding.”
Administrative detention, she said, was
not the answer.