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Israel: Arrest of Terrorism Suspects

(Jan. 20, 2011) The Knesset (Israel's Parliament) passed an amendment to the Criminal Procedure (Arrest of a Suspect in Terrorism Offense) (Temporary Provision) Law, 5766-2006. The current amendment extends the application of the original law for an additional year, until December 31, 2012. It also amends some of the law's provisions, based on the experience acquired since the law's introduction and in accordance with a Supreme Court decision that repealed an earlier authorization to conduct ex-parte hearings of an extension, appeal, or additional hearing in connection with an arrest of a terrorism suspect.

According to the current amendment, an authorized officer may, without a judicial warrant, extend the arrest of a suspect in a terrorism offense for an additional 24 hours, in addition to the original period of 48 hours. Such authorization can be granted if the officer is convinced that an interruption of the investigation may cause it real harm that will hamper preventing harm to human life.

The extension decree must be in writing and include an explanation for taking the action. It must be approved by the head of the investigation section in the General Security Service (Shin Beit, hereafter GSS). The court may, in rare cases, and at the request of the head of the GSS, extend the above periods for an additional period not exceeding 24 hours if it is convinced that an interruption will hurt the investigation and thus will hamper preventing harm to human life.

The current amendment further amends provisions on the extension of an arrest of terrorism suspects initially made in the suspects' presence. According to the new provisions, a Justice of the Supreme Court may, upon receiving a written request from the head of the GSS as approved by the Attorney General, extend the arrest if he is convinced that an interruption of the investigation constitutes a highly certain possibility of hampering the prevention of harm to human life. Such an extension may not exceed 72 hours each or 144 hours all together, as long as the total extension does not exceed 20 days following a hearing at which the detainee was present. (Criminal Procedure (Arrest of a Suspect in Terrorism Offense) (Temporary Provision), 5766-2006, SEFER HA-HUKIM [Book of Laws, Official Gazette] No. 2059, at 364, 5766-2006; Criminal Procedure (A Detainee Arrested for an Offense of Terrorism) (Temporary Provision) (Amendment No. 2), 5771-2010, the Knesset website,; Crim. Req. 8823/07 Anonymous v. State of Israel (Feb. 11, 2010), Nevo Legal Database (by subscription) (Isr.) (both last viewed Jan. 14, 2011) [all in Hebrew].)