Moshe Yaalon
Moshe Yaalon Eden Moladavski/Flash 90

If necessary, the government will use administrative detention as a tool against Jewish extremists – but only if necessary, Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon said Monday. The use of administrative detention, in which individuals can be incarcerated without due process, is meant to prevent terrorists who are about to carry out attacks from doing so, and that is how orders to detain Israelis will be used, said Ya'alon. “We will use it in cases where it is clear that individuals are involved in terror, but we do not have the evidence to arrest them,” he said at a press conference Monday.

Ya'alon said that he was aware that the tool of administrative detention was a harsh – and controversial – one, but the events of recent days, especially the arson at the Arab village of Duma, left Israel with no choice. “This will be one of the more drastic tools that we can employ to fight Jewish terror, but it will be used if necessary in order to bring terrorists to justice and defend Israeli democracy,” he said.

The security cabinet voted Sunday night to allow use of administrative detention against Israelis, and Ya'alon said that he was prepared to use it immediately. An investigation will, he said, sooner rather than later point a finger at suspects in the Duma arson, and Ya'alon said he would not hesitate to use the tool to detain suspects, even if there is not sufficient evidence to hold them through normal legal channels.

“We intend to fight Jewish terror without compromise,” Ya'alon said. “This is a struggle for the image and being of the State of Israel, and we will not give up this struggle.”

The administrative detention law requires security officials to conduct thorough investigations and to report on their progress in court every three months. With that, the law is open-ended, and allows officials to keep individuals in prison as long as required. According to government statistics, Palestinian terrorists who have been arrested and detained under the law are usually detained for between six months and a year before being either released or charged.