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Extremist ministers support detaining Arab citizens of Israel without charge or trial

June 13, 2023 at 3:07 pm

Israeli National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir (L) and Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich (R) in Jerusalem. [ABIR SULTAN/POOL/AFP via Getty Images]

Extremist Israeli Minister of National Security Itamar Ben-Gvir and Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich have vocalised their support for detaining Palestinian citizens of Israel without charge or trial to tackle rising crime in Arab neighbourhoods.

According to the Times of Israel, Smotrich announced: “We need to enable administrative detentions. There needs to be a set of tools to enable the government to work, including unusual tools.”

It comes in response to a reporter’s question regarding Ben-Gvir’s new controversial bill, which was set for introduction in parliament yesterday and will enable him to issue administrative detention orders against Palestinian citizens of Israel.

If the bill is passed, Ben-Gvir would be able to approve renewable administrative detentions for up to six months against any suspect the minister claims poses a danger to the public.

Observers say that the far-right extremist minister’s aim is to strengthen his grip over the Arab community in Israel on the pretext of fighting crime. It also comes after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Sunday he plans to seek the help of the domestic intelligence service Shin Bet to combat crime within the Arab community in Israel.

According to the latest official data, Israel’s Arab population is estimated at 2.048 million, constituting 21 per cent of the country’s total population of 9.7 million.

READ: Israel arrested over 3,000 Palestinians in West Bank in 2022

The number of murders reached 102 in 2023, up from only 34 during the same period in 2022, according to Yedioth Ahronoth newspaper.

Arab community leaders blame the Israeli authorities and the police for the crime wave, stressing they have failed to crack down on powerful criminal organisations and largely ignore the violence among Arabs who have suffered from years of negligence.

Administrative detention in Israel is authorised by the defence minister against people accused of carrying our “terror” attacks. In practice, it is always imposed on Palestinians involved in legitimate resistance against the Israeli occupation. It is rarely, if ever, used against illegal Israeli settlers who terrorise Palestinians.