Israel's General Security Service (GSS - Shin Bet) paid NIS 6,500 to compensate a young man called for questioning with a police summons. While ostensibly called up by the police, the young man later found at the station that it was in fact a GSS interview intended to recruit him as an information source.
The claim was filed on grounds that the summons constituted a violation of the law. About a year ago, the Supreme Court unequivocally prohibited the GSS from using this method to summon civilians for interviews.
The incident occurred last summer when a policeman spoke to the young man by telephone asking him to go to the Hof district police station. The young man asked for a written summons and a week later received one from the police indicating the purpose of the summons was an interrogation. Upon reaching the station he was taken to one of the GSS questioning rooms, but with no police investigation taking place.
During the conversationm the Shin Bet man tried to recruit the young man to conduct regular conversations with him, but the young man did not cooperate. At no stage was the young man informed that he was not obliged to cooperate in the interrogation, that he could leave the interrogation at any time, that his words could not be used against him, and that no sanctions would be imposed against him at all, as the Supreme Court instructed the GSS to treat civilians.
Following the Shin Bet's call, the Honenu legal aid organization representing the young man filed complaints with the Interrogees' Investigation Complaints Department against the GSS in the Justice Ministry and the Northern District Police Complaints Officer, in whose jurisdiction the incident occurred. The young man also filed a civil suit in the Tzfat Magistrate's Court together with another plaintiff who had undergone a similar ordeal.
The complaint states the police ordered the plaintiffs to an investigation by means of a police summons form, and that in practice a GSS call in place of any police investigation "deviates from the GSS commitment to the State and the Supreme Court's instructions to the GSS."
"The police and Shin Bet violated specific Supreme Court directives, violated the Basic Rights of the plaintiffs without authority, and harmed the character of the State as a democratic state." The amount claimed from the Shin Bet was NIS 15,000, due to an unlawful violation of his civil liberty and security.
Following negotiations with Northern District Attorney's Office representative Hadas Alkobi Malachi, and without filing a statement of defense against the young man's claim, it was agreed to settle the young man's claim with no order to pay court expenses in return for payment of NIS 6,500 in compensation to be paid by the GSS to the young man.
Honenu stresses that the Shin Bet does not have authority to compel people to come to interrogations, and if it does so, it violates the law and must compensate the injured parties. The organization, which currently manages a number of similar cases, advises on illegal GSS summonses and other legal matters, and accompanies injured citizens in the process of achieving justice before State authorities and the courts.
Attorney Menashe Yado who represented the young man said, "We're forced to fight with our fingernails against erosion of rightist activist's rights by the security authorities with strong Supreme Court backing. After the internal control bodies ignored our requests, we filed a justified civil suit that was accepted even without the State Attorney's Office filing a statement of defense on behalf of the GSS who, without a doubt also according to the State Attorney's Office's understanding, acted unlawfully."
The General Security Service said in response, "First of all, it is clear that to fulfill its mission to protect the security of the State and by the power vested in it by law, the GSS is required to carry out investigations based on information indicating a suspected past or future offense.
"A similar petition to the one in your query was filed in the matter of the two. One case is still being conducted in court and we do not intend to address its circumstances, whereas in another case, taking into account the totality of the circumstances and the amount of the claim, it was decided to terminate it with the parties' consent to dismiss the claim and pay a certain amount."