Gallant extends administrative detention of settler activist by three months

Ariel Danino’s wife slams right-wing cabinet ministers over matter; National Security Minister Ben Gvir accuses defense minister, who signed order, of fueling lies about settlers

Ariel Danino. (Used in accordance with Clause 27a of the Copyright Law)
Ariel Danino. (Used in accordance with Clause 27a of the Copyright Law)

Defense Minister Yoav Gallant on Tuesday extended the administrative detention of prominent settler activist Ariel Danino by three months, the day before the original order was due to expire, the right-wing legal aid group Honenu said.

Danino, a resident of the illegal outpost of Kumi Ori close to the Yitzhar settlement in the northern West Bank,  was put into administrative detention on October 29 and, before Gallant’s decision, was due to be released on February 28.

While it was unclear what specifically prompted Gallant and the Shin Bet to place him in detention in the first place, the original order cited “a reasonable foundation to assume that state security/public security requires” him to be held in detention.

His wife Avia Danino told Honenu that her husband “is a hero and a pioneer who experienced firsthand the recklessness of the system that does everything to silence its critics instead of directing its resources to eradicate terrorism.”

Appealing to right-wing members of the cabinet, she charged that “this crime was committed under your tenure, and your silence on the matter is a mark of disgrace on the entire right-wing government which, during a war, continues to break records in the persecution of settlers.”

Far-right National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir panned Gallant for his move, saying that “instead of repelling the despicable and deceitful campaign about ‘settler violence’ Gallant is fueling it.”

Defense Minister Yoav Gallant makes comments to the media on February 5, 2024. (Screenshot/GPO)

Attorney Adi Keidar of Honenu said the extension is “a reward for terrorism and the Americans,” a reference to the Biden administration’s recent criticism and sanctions against extremist settlers.

Security resources that would be better used “to locate terrorists and deal with the daily difficulties of the West Bank residents instead continue to persecute the Jews,” he said.

Far-right activists called for a demonstration outside Gallant’s home in Moshav Amikam as well as at the Chords Bridge that spans the primary entrance to Jerusalem, the Haaretz daily reported.

The newspaper said that Danino was a high-profile spokesperson for the illegal hilltop outpost movement and was active on social media where he has published content that incited violence.

According to the report, his initial arrest in October was explained by security figures as due to his alleged involvement in violent incidents against West Bank Palestinians. Last week, more information came to light indicating he is still thought to be promoting violence, the unsourced report said.

National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir leads an Otzma Yehudit faction meeting at the Knesset in Jerusalem, on February 19, 2024. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Gallant recently signed an administrative detention order for three other settler figures: Amitzur Ben Yosef, Tal Anon Derdik, and Noam Aharon Mermelstein.

At the beginning of February there were 3,484 Palestinians under administrative detention, Haaretz said.

Administrative detention is primarily used for Palestinian terror suspects but the orders have also been used with a handful of Jewish-Israeli terror suspects in recent years.

The tool is typically used when authorities have intelligence tying a suspect to a crime but do not have enough evidence for charges to stand up in a court of law.

Its use against settler extremists has become more common recently, as many of them maintain their right to silence and refuse to cooperate with investigations.

There has been an uptick in settler violence against West Bank Palestinians following the October 7 attack by Gaza-based terror group Hamas that killed 1,200 people in Israel. The assault opened a still-ongoing war with Israel, which has vowed to destroy the terror group, topple its regime in Gaza, and free 253 hostages who were abducted during the assault.

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