Ben Gvir calls for holding suspects without charge amid spike in homicides

Despite history of objection to controversial administrative detention practice, far-right minister claims ‘there’s no choice’ but to use it after 4 people killed the night before

National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir tours Lod, April 17, 2023. (Flash90)
National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir tours Lod, April 17, 2023. (Flash90)

Far-right National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir called Thursday for holding suspects without charge as a means to combat violent crime, a night after four people were killed in separate incidents of apparent homicide around the country.

Ben Gvir advocated for administrative detention and other administrative orders during an emergency meeting with top police brass that was called following the recent spike in killings. The controversial practice, which allows individuals to be held without charge practically indefinitely and the evidence against them to be withheld, is mostly used against Palestinian terror suspects, but also against Jewish extremists.

The far-right Otzma Yehudit party leader, who before entering the Knesset in 2021 served as a lawyer specializing in the defense of Jewish terror suspects, has long railed against administrative detention, including as recently as last month in response to the detention of four settlers.

“I don’t like administrative orders and this an extreme step, but there’s no choice,” Ben Gvir said during the meeting, which was also attended by Israel Police Commissioner Kobi Shabtai. “In such days when there’s a bloodbath in the streets, it’s an extreme situation in which we have to use extreme measures.”

“I’m asking you to prepare the intelligence material in order to impose administrative restraining orders on central instigators of crime, who are responsible for a very significant part of the last incidents of shooting and murder,” he added.

“There is no choice in this time but to also use administrative detention in a measured, limited and necessary quantity, to keep those responsible away and to cause deterrence,” he said, ordering officials to quickly file a request with Attorney General Gali Baharav-Miara to approve the measures.

According to Channel 12 news, a majority of senior police officials backed Ben Gvir’s proposal.

The network, which did not cite a source, reported that Ben Gvir and police officials had agreed on drawing up a list of some 20 leading criminal underworld figures to put in administrative detention.

“Criminal organizations will feel the might of the police. We’ll settle the score with lawbreakers who forgot the value of human life,” Shabtai said.

Despite the reported support for using administrative detention in crime fighting, a police source told the Ynet news site that the force must check “the legal feasibility” of doing so with Attorney General Gali Baharav-Miara, who Ben Gvir has frequently fumed at for blocking a number of his initiatives.

Most Popular
read more: