PM to High Court: Controversial Sde Teiman site meant to hold Palestinian security detainees only briefly

Jeremy Sharon is The Times of Israel’s legal affairs and settlements reporter

This undated photo taken in the winter 2023 and provided by Breaking the Silence, a whistleblower group of former Israeli soldiers, shows blindfolded Palestinians captured in the Gaza Strip in a detention facility on the Sde Teiman military base in southern Israel. (Breaking The Silence via AP)
This undated photo taken in the winter 2023 and provided by Breaking the Silence, a whistleblower group of former Israeli soldiers, shows blindfolded Palestinians captured in the Gaza Strip in a detention facility on the Sde Teiman military base in southern Israel. (Breaking The Silence via AP)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu tells the High Court of Justice that the Sde Teiman army detention facility should be used only for the short-term detention and questioning of Palestinian security detainees caught in Gaza during the ongoing war.

His position was relayed by the State Attorney’s Office in response to a petition to the court demanding the facility’s closure due to allegations of severe abuse against Palestinian detainees at the site.

Netanyahu’s position is opposed by far-right National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir, who has opposed the closure of Sde Teiman, opposed any improvements to conditions at the facility, and opposed the transfer to Israeli prisons of detainees suspected of taking part in hostilities against Israel or involvement with terror groups in Gaza.

“The position of the prime minister is that all necessary steps must be taken so that the Sde Teiman facility remains open as a short-term, temporary detention facility for prisoners for the purposes of questioning and processing alone before being transferred to permanent detention facilities, so that prisoners are held there for a short and limited time,” the State Attorney’s Office writes in an update to the court on Monday night.

The prime minister will hold a meeting Thursday with the defense, justice, national security, and finance ministers, along with the attorney general, military advocate general, head of the police, head of the Israel Prison Service, and security chiefs to implement this policy, the response says.

The state also tells the court that the number of detainees at Sde Teiman has risen over the last week, from 124 to 166, due to the ongoing operations in Gaza by the IDF.

Last week, Attorney General Gali Baharav Miara told Netanyahu in a letter that Ben Gvir is preventing the transfer of the remaining Palestinian terrorists held in Sde Teiman to the Israel Prison Service, which she said would have “very serious and broad consequences” in light of the allegations of abuses at the detention facility.

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