Photo Credit: Miriam Alster/Flash90
Yoav Gallant argues with Itamar Ben Gvir in Amona, December 18, 2016.

Is there a significant difference between the security apparatus under former defense minister Benny Gantz and Yoav Gallant, the current defense minister? Not so much. One moment after a court on Thursday released all eight detainees who are suspected of carrying out riots and arson in Huwara, two of them were sent to four months of administrative detention by Gallant. One of the detainees is a 17-year-old minor, and the other is in his late 20s. According to Kan 11 News, The Shin Bet recommended administrative detention, and Gallant signed the orders.

Administrative detention is the arrest and imprisonment of individuals by the state without a trial. If you are a fan of democracy, as so many Israelis are claiming to be most vociferously these days, you should know that administrative detention is the most anti-democratic act of government, imposing long prison terms on suspects without a shred of proof.


In Israeli law, administrative detention originally inherited its authority from the Defense (Emergency) Regulations of 1945 that have been in effect since the British Mandate. In 1951, MK Menachem Begin attacked the practice, saying: “There are tyrannical laws, there are immoral laws, there are Nazi laws. […] The law you’re using is Nazi, tyrannical, immoral; and an immoral law is also illegal.”

Criticism of the anti-democratic detention was limited to Israeli right-leaning news outlets. Haaretz et al saw nothing particularly wrong with it.

National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir was Irate at Gallant: “Precisely during the days when the heroic settlers in Judea and Samaria are suffering from murderous terrorism, the defense minister chooses to issue two administrative detention warrants against two Jews, one of whom is a minor (!), while preferring a policy of ‘inclusion’ regarding the terrorists, and this is regrettable.

“Despite the fact that the court ordered the release of the two Jewish detainees, those who issued the order chose to bypass the court in an unusual and severe procedure contrary to a democratic worldview. I will contact Gallant and the Prime Minister this evening and demand clarification on this anti-democratic decision.”

Kan 11 cited security officials who claimed the two detainees “planned other dangerous actions, besides their participation in the riots in Huwara.” But, of course, they had no evidence against them, since had they had a shred of evidence, they would have taken the two to court.

Another security official insisted the ant-democratic move was actually helping the settlers: “The actions of the two detainees harm most of all the settlements – which oppose violent activity like the one they are leading, that tarnishes an entire community of law-abiding and lovers of the country.”

We’re throwing you in jail without due process because it’s good for you, see?

Gallant, for his part, called Ben Gvir and Bezalel Smotrich “a fifth column in the cabinet” for their support of the settlers’ side in the war on terrorism.

Honenu attorney Adi Keider stated that “while on the Arab networks, the incitement is being celebrated, and on the ground, there’s a complete loss of control by the IDF over attackers using stones, firearms, and Molotov cocktails against Jews, the defense minister sees himself as a higher authority above two courts that ordered their release, serves as a rubber stamp for the Shin Bet against Jews.”

“The Shin Bet continues the war of attrition against the settlers while it turns a blind eye to severe incitement from the left that leads to anarchy and widespread disorder throughout the country,” Keidar stressed.

As things stand these days, should Netanyahu replaces Gallant with Gantz, it would take us weeks to realize it.


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