Under the pressure of a petition to the High Court of Justice, the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) announced Sunday that it will soon release a young right-wing Jewish activist from administrative detention.
Born in 1999 but with his name still under gag order, the activist was controversially placed in administrative detention in June despite a Rishon Lezion Magistrate’s Court order to free him from the state’s custody.
The state explained the seeming disregard of the court’s order as legal since the court order was merely to free the activist from standard custody waiting for a criminal indictment.
In contrast, the court had not ruled on administrative detention, which is a separate legal process that a different court supervises.
But the activist’s lawyer, Itamar Ben-Gvir, said that the idea that the Shin Bet could throw someone in administrative detention in violation of a court order to free the person which was based on lack of evidence, was “emblematic of Putin’s Russia.”
Israel says it uses administrative detention when it has information that a suspect is dangerous, but it cannot present all the evidence in court for fear of divulging intelligence sources.
Globally, Israel is criticized for using the practice, which includes legal proceedings, but it allows the prosecution to present secret evidence and it does not give suspects all of the standard criminal protections. In a joint statement to the High Court, the Shin Bet and the state said they had agreed to drop the petition once there was a commitment to release the activist by August 19. The sides are still negotiating over the terms of the release, including a possible restraining order on being in certain parts of the West Bank and certain house arrest conditions.
In his petition to the High Court, Ben-Gvir had ripped the state’s reasoning apart for having placed the activist in administrative detention.