Is Administrative Detention Just?
by Jo-ana D'Balcazar
Undoubtedly, the Noam Federman case is one of those that awakens controversy among those who defend Israel, those who believe that terrorists want peace with Israel, those who just let terrorism claim more blood without imprisoning terrorist leaders who openly take credit for genocide bombings, and those who support the liberation of Arab-Palestinian terrorist prisoners.
The point is not whether people agree or disagree with Noam Federman's politics, but that, as an Israeli, his civil rights should have been respected. While more than 400 Arab-Palestinian terrorists have been liberated, Federman is still seen by many as the mastermind behind the alleged Jewish terrorist underground. Is it fair to consider him a terrorist, or a citizen defending his right to live peacefully in Israel? Who is attacking whom and who is being defended from whom?
Noam Federman is detained under administrative detention. Let us stop here. What does it mean being in "administrative detention"? Supposedly, it means to hold a person prisoner when there is credible intelligence that such a person is about to commit a terrorist attack. The argument here is that Federman was arrested for allegedly masterminding terrorist attacks against Arab-Palestinians. This is what is hiding behind the news of a new Jewish terrorist underground.
Then, wait a minute. If this is the current Israeli law to be used in "emergency situations", why has it not been applied to the self-confessed terrorist leaders of Hamas, Hizbullah, Islamic Jihad and Al-Aksa Martyrs Brigade, among others? The emergency situation is clear in these cases, when they even announce future terrorist attacks. Ironically, they not only announce them, and not only fulfill their promises, but also proudly take credit for killing and maiming innocent Jews. And then, they are treated and celebrated by Yasser Arafat, and almost every Arab-Palestinian not as murderers, but as martyrs.
Have not terrorists publicly confessed their responsibility for many of the attacks on Israelis, including genocide bombings? Besides, Israeli intelligence has a lot of evidence about terrorist leaders. Something here is just not making sense.
Federman, allegedly, was imprisoned for fear that he might plan attacks against Arab-Palestinians within Israel. Why is it then that the Arab-Palestinian terrorists in Judea, Samaria and Gaza are not also detained, but instead they are even encouraged and supported by Arafat and the neighboring states, such as Iran, Libya and Syria, which are sponsoring terrorism?
Is it not a crime to allow the continuation of growing terrorist campaign, whose goal is to destroy Israel, a democratic country since its modern foundation in 1948? Terrorist leaders with clear evidence of terrorist participation, including Yasser Arafat, former terrorist leader of the Palestinian Liberation Organization, and now Chairman of the Palestinian Authority, are still walking about free, planning more and more terrorists attacks. Let us not forget that Al-Aksa Martyrs Brigade, responsible for many terrorist attacks, is nothing other than a military arm of the Palestinian Authority.
One can argue that Arafat, in a sense, is under special prison treatment because he cannot leave his headquarters in Ramallah. Well, he might be under special prison treatment, but he still operates and officially commands the Palestinian Authority. This is where the controversy starts. For instance, the head of the Islamic Movement, Sheikh Ra'ad Salah, received only a restraining order after he was accused of raising funds for the terrorist group Hamas. Does it mean that Federman is more dangerous than Arafat, Ra'ad Salah and other Arab-Palestinian terrorist leaders?
Therefore, some argue that the use of "administrative detention" is being used as a tool against those who oppose the destruction of Jewish towns in Judea, Samaria and Gaza (Yesha). Federman resides precisely in Hebron, part of Yesha. Will this mean that residents in those areas, who resist leaving their towns and decide to defend against terrorist attacks, will also be imprisoned for "fear" that they will attack Arab-Palestinian terrorists?
There is enough intelligence information about the whereabouts of known terrorist leaders in Judea and Samaria. Why not, then, go after them to apply this law of "emergency situations" instead of letting them plan, announce and commit their publicized terrorist attacks?
Can the "administrative detention" law be made more logical to imprison real terrorist leaders and not people or Israeli citizens who want to defend Israel precisely from those genocide attacks?
This reminds us of the case of the American Christian-Zionist David Ben-Ariel, who was imprisoned for allegedly trying to destroy the Dome of the Rock, to make way for the reconstruction of the Jewish Temple. Ben-Ariel repeatedly declared that he was there only to protest, not to destroy the mosque.
Attorney Naftali Wurtzberger, who defended Federman, also represented David Ben-Ariel during his trial in Israeli High Court and Jerusalem's Municipal Court. Ben-Ariel is now free and back in the United States. Yet, the Israeli government determined that Ben-Ariel cannot visit Israel, although he might be eligible to return in 2005. Why not deport the leaders of terrorist groups who are living, apparently with more rights, in Judea, Samaria and Gaza?
The Federman situation has caused many Israelis to reexamine their conscience. Again, the controversy arises. Federman, an Israeli, who has not committed a genocide attack, was imprisoned under lawws for an "emergency situation," while the Israeli government agreed to free more than 400 Arab terrorists.
The condition for the Arab release was that those let loose must be without "blood on their hands" and with less than three years remaining on their prison sentences. It is naive to believe that these 400+ terrorists will obey "a promissory note not to continue with terrorism." Plus, instead of being deported, local prisoners were sent to Judea, Samaria and Gaza. Does this mean a victory for the terrorists and a slap for Federman and Ben-Ariel? Simply, something is not clicking.
Ironically, it appears that terrorism is the force dictating the terms for peace negotiations. Is it that the liberation of verified Arab-Palestinians terrorists is more negotiable than that of Federman? There are actually two questions. First, is it fair to consider Federman a terrorist, or a citizen defending Israel? Remember, it is not a matter of whether people agree or disagree with Federman's politics, but about Israeli civil rights. Second, can this "emergency situation law" be applied immediately to all known terrorist leaders in Judea, Samaria and Gaza? What do you think?
Shevat 17, 5764 / 09 February 04
M.A. Political Analyst in International Relations specializing in the Middle East Crisis and the European Union.
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