HCJ 4057/10 The Association for Civil Rights in Israel et al v the Commander of the IDF Forces in the West Bank

Petition Submission Date: 26.5.2010

In May 2010, a temporary order went into effect determining the detention periods for Palestinians in the West Bank. The temporary order determined that a suspect may be detained for eight days before being brought before a judge; 90 days until an indictment is issued, or up to six months with court approval. Furthermore, after an indictment is issued, the accused party can be remanded for two years, a period that may be repeatedly extended by half a year without limit, as subject to court approval.

Israeli law, which applies to Israeli citizens who reside in the West Bank, determines that a suspect must be brought in front of a judge within 24 hours of arrest (which can be extended up to 48 hours) and remanded for 30 days until an indictment is issued (the attorney general can extend remand for up to 75 days). After the indictment is issued, the accused party can be remanded until the end of proceedings for a period of nine months, which can be extended by three months each time.

Yesh Din, the Association for Civil Rights in Israel and the Public Committee Against Torture in Israel petitioned the High Court against the discriminatory arrest practices of Palestinians in the West Bank, as compared to Israelis.

In the petition, Attorney Lila Margalit presented the example of two residents of the Hebron area who were arrested during a skirmish: “The first, a Jewish resident of Kiryat Arba, is immediately questioned by a police officer and, in accordance with the law, is already brought before a judge the next morning at the Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court. At the hearing, the court decides to release the accused on bail pending trial – the charges are not especially serious and the accused has claimed self-defense. Whereas the second resident, a Palestinian resident of Hebron is arrested and incarcerated for a period of eight days before he is finally brought before a military court judge. He is questioned only one time during this period.” Margalit also stressed that discriminatory practices are applied to the two arrestees throughout the entire proceeding, despite being residents of the same area.

In its response, the State stated the differences between Israeli laws that apply to the West Bank stem from practical security considerations. However, the State added that after extensive administrative work, it was decided to enact “far-reaching changes to the arrest periods determined in the order regarding security provisions,” published in the new order that became valid at the start of 2012. The State attorney announced that it was decided that regarding offenses that are not security related, the arrestee will be brought before a judge within 48 hours; arrestees in security related offenses will be brought before a judge within 96 hours, except in cases in which there is suspicion of significant damage to the investigation or to someone’s life.

It was also decided that the initial remand will not exceed 20 days, and that the arrest can be repeatedly extended for additional periods that will not exceed 15 days each time. Remand beyond 60 days prior to an indictment will require approval of a senior legal official. In addition, arrest until end of proceedings will last one year for offenses that are not security related, and two years for security-related offenses. The State added that it would reexamine the regulations two years after they go into effect.

Yesh Din welcomed the shortening of arrest periods, however claimed that there are still huge gaps in practices, primarily regarding minors. In April 2014, the High Court rejected a petition regarding maximum arrest periods for adults suspected of security offenses, but also demanded additional updates regarding minors and adults suspected of non-security related offenses. Furthermore, the justices demanded additional updates regarding the arrest periods until end of proceedings for all accused parties.

On March 2017, the state informed the HCJ that it had formulated a series of recommendations to further shorten detention periods, especially for minors and for detentions until the end of legal proceedings. A month later, the court ruled that these recommendations will be implemented starting in May 2018.

Petition Status: following the petition, the state decided to shorten several detention periods, a decision that was validated by a court ruling.