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After Hadera attack, PM orders detention of Israeli terror suspects without charge

Bennett calls for broad campaign to adjust to ‘new situation’; security force deployments to be ramped up until after Independence Day, over a month away

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett give a press statement at the Prime Minister's office in Jerusalem, March 27, 2022. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)
Prime Minister Naftali Bennett give a press statement at the Prime Minister's office in Jerusalem, March 27, 2022. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett instructed security services Monday to hold any terror suspects in administrative detention, without charging them, as part of a broad campaign that will also focus on the Arab Israeli community, a day after two police officers were killed in a shooting attack by two Islamic State supporters who were Israeli citizens.

According to a statement from Bennett’s office, he said the controversial practice — which is typically deployed against Palestinians in the West Bank — should be used “in appropriate circumstances in which it is possible to present a proper legal basis.”

The order came after Bennett met with top security officials for a situational assessment in the wake of the terror attack, the second within a week by Arab Israelis with ties to Islamic State.

Bennett stressed that it was “a new situation that requires suitable preparations and adjustment by the security services to the circumstances within which extremist elements of Arab society, directed by extremist Islamic ideology, are carrying out terror attacks and taking lives.”

The prime minister instructed that a number of measures be taken, including a continued extensive operational effort, through a variety of tools in all arenas, along with overt and covert investigative actions, the statement said.

Bennett said the toolbox available to authorities will include legal, economic, intelligence, and digital means, while the Israel Police will continue an ongoing campaign to seize illegal weapons. Meanwhile, he called for a broader policy for serving IDF soldiers and reservists to carry firearms.

A screen grab from a video, believed to be authentic, in which the two Hadera attackers swear allegiance to the Islamic State terror group, undated (Screen grab)

In addition, the presence of security forces will immediately be bolstered, with a focus on areas where there is a threat of violence. The ramp-up will remain in place until Independence Day, which this year begins on the evening of May 4.

There is also to be monitoring of social networks to identify sources of incitement and potential attackers, with “appropriate action” taken against them, the statement said.

Efforts will be made to maintain and improve communication with community leaders and influencers in the Arab public to preserve the status quo, according to the statement.

The meeting was attended by the defense and public security ministers, IDF chief of staff, the director of the Shin Bet security service, the Israel Police commissioner and the deputy attorney general, among others.

Bennett participated virtually after testing positive for COVID-19.

Yazan Falah and Shirel Aboukrat, two Border Police officers killed in a terror attack in Hadera, are seen at their base near the West Bank settlement of Bet El, hours before they were killed on March 27, 2022. (Israel Police)

Defense Minister Benny Gantz vowed authorities “will act against those who assist terrorists and neutralize them.”

He also stressed that, in general, Arab Israeli citizens are law-abiding, “and the exceptions among them should not be seen as the general rule.”

Speaking at a ceremony to mark the installation of a new chief at the state security department of the Defense Ministry, Gantz praised off-duty undercover police who engaged the terrorists and killed them, while also expressing his regret at the deaths of Border Police officers Yazan Falah and Shirel Aboukrat, both 19.

He said forces will be bolstered in the West Bank and elsewhere in order to increase citizens’ sense of security.

“We will remember that terror always lost against Israel and it will lose this time as well,” Gantz said.

The Hadera shooting came days after a deadly terror attack in the southern city of Beersheba, which was also committed by a man who attempted to join the jihadist group, raising concerns of further attacks inspired by the terrorist organization. Meanwhile, officials had been warning of a flare-up of violence before and during the holy month of Ramadan, which begins later this week.

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