Do ‘Targets’ of the Israel Security Agency Face Close Supervision or Enjoy Immunity?

The title that the Israeli media attaches to suspects of far-right terrorism – “a target of the Shin Bet” – sometimes means exactly the opposite of what we think.

Elisha Yered, the former spokesman for Israeli Member of the Knesset (Israel’s Parliament) Limor Son Har-Melech from the far-right Otzma-Yehudit party, is suspected of obstruction of the police’s investigation and aiding the murder of 19-year-old Qosai Jammal Mi’tan from the village Burqa, near Ramallah in the West Bank. Israeli media reports stated that Yered is a “target of the Shin Bet”, the acronym of the Israel Security Agency.

Apparently, it can be understood from the combination of the words “target of the Shin Bet” that this is a person whose dangerousness is already known to the Israeli security services and he is under their close supervision and treated by them seriously. But in practice, this often means that this person enjoys immunity from criminal prosecution and can continue to freely harm the bodies and property of Palestinian civilians until the Shin Bet decides that he has crossed a red line.

On March 2023, five months before the murder of Mi’tan, Israel’s attorney general advocate Gali Beharev-Miara gave her exceptional approval for the criminal investigation of a member of the Knesset on suspicion of inciting terrorism, for his statements about the “burning of Huwara” (Zvika Fogel, also from Otzma-Yehudit), the Palestinian village where a pogrom was carried out by the Israeli far right. However, even though Elisha Yered tweeted similar things and even distributed a video of incitement, he has yet to be investigated.

The police suspect that after Mi’tan’s murder, Yered took the weapon with which Yehiel Indore allegedly shot Mi’tan, and buried it in the lands of the Ramat Migron outpost where he lives. After the police arrived at his house, Yered led them to the buried weapon. Despite this, it was reported that an indictment is not expected to be filed against Yered.

According to the Israeli Criminal Procedure law, if the police learn of the commission of a crime, they must open an investigation, but when it comes to a “target of the Shin Bet” many times the obligation in the law is not met and the far-right activists are not investigated and prosecuted. It is not only about political considerations of the law enforcement authorities but also because of the fear of exposing intelligence agents and sources.

It is not known how many of the hundreds who are believed to belong to the “Hilltop Youth” who are responsible for most of the Israeli far right terrorist incidents in the West Ban – and Elisha Yered is identified with them – are agents or collaborators of the Shin Bet. In the US, for example, it became clear in retrospect that during the years of political persecution carried out by the head of the FBI J. Edgar Hoover, out of about 5,000 members of the American Communist Party – about 1,500 were agents and collaborators of the FBI.

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