- The Washington Times - Friday, May 20, 2005

YITZHAR, West Bank — When Jewish activist Neria Ofan was placed in ‘administrative detention’ by Israel’s Shabak security police, he became a test case to determine whether Jews might be held under the same draconian laws used against Palestinians.

On Wednesday, Yehoshua Pilpel, president of the Beersheba District Court, upheld Mr. Ofan’s ‘administrative detention,’ a common practice with Palestinians when authorities want to avoid a trial so as not to expose informants.

Mr. Ofan organized marches of thousands of people and he collected an estimated 15,000 signatures of soldiers and army reserves who would refuse to evacuate settlements — land they regard as theirs by God-given right.

He was arrested at the Hizmeh checkpoint between the West Bank and Jerusalem. Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz had signed an order to lock him up until Sept. 30 — without a trial.

So far, Mr. Ofan is the only Jewish administrative detainee.

‘He has a right to act [against the disengagement],’ said Naomi Ofan, his wife.

The Shabak would not reveal its case against Mr. Ofan, although sources told the Haaretz newspaper he planned to attack Arabs.

‘They’re trying to make a terrorist out of him,’ Mrs. Ofan said in an interview at their home in Yitzhar, where residents are known for being vehemently, even violently, against the pullout. ‘[Terrorism] had nothing to do with him.’

Mr. Ofan and his lawyer were ordered out of the judge’s chambers when the Shabak’s representative explained why he was arrested and should not know the reasons for it. So Mr. Ofan cannot challenge the Shabak’s report backed by 67 classified documents, gathered over four years.

Neighbors said Mr. Ofan was arrested to determine whether the courts would uphold the incarceration of a Jew fighting the withdrawal from the Gaza Strip and northern West Bank settlements, and whether public opinion would accept it.

The security services fear Jewish militants might try to kill Prime Minister Ariel Sharon or provoke Arabs into a fight that would halt the disengagement.

The most sensitive site of all is the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, which houses the Mosque of Al Aqsa, Islam’s third-holiest shrine. Mr. Sharon’s visit there in September 2000 sparked the intifada.

Three Israelis arrested in April were accused of considering a plan of firing an anti-tank missile at the mosque. Police said the three hoped to ignite a war with the Arab states that would halt the disengagement.

Shabak head Yuval Diskin told the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee on Tuesday the service would deal ‘firmly and with determination’ even with cases that are still ‘in the stage of an idea, intent or planning … because they have an explosive potential.’

Maj. Gen. Ya’ir Naveh, head of the Central Command that includes the West Bank, advocated the administrative detention of Jews. He told the Maariv newspaper such detentions must be made and only a removal of all known activists from the streets would allow security forces to control unrest.

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