Attorney General Menachem Mazuz refused a request by the Shin Bet security service and the government to place dozens of senior Hamas officials under administrative detention or hold them as "bargaining chips" under the Unlawful Combatants Law.
Mazuz insisted that the arrests be carried out under ordinary criminal warrants that would require legal proceedings against the Hamas officials under the Prevention of Terror Ordinance. They will probably be charged with membership in or leadership of a terrorist organization.
The detainees will be brought before a judge for a remand hearing within the next 96 hours, and legal proceedings against them will be carried out in military courts in the territories.
The detention of Hamas parliamentarians in the early hours of Thursday morning had been planned several weeks ago and received approval from Mazuz on Wednesday. The same day, Shin Bet Director Yuval Diskin presented Prime Minister Ehud Olmert with the list of Hamas officials slated for detention.
The Group of Eight industrialized countries said Thursday that the Hamas arrests raised "particular concerns."
A Justice Ministry spokesperson said that the change in policy towards ministers and parliamentarians who are members of Hamas was carried out with the approval of and in coordination with the judiciary, and that Israel intends on arresting more Hamas officials.
"We are talking about people suspected of criminal violations such as membership in terror organizations, affiliation with terrorist leadership, and other violations," the spokesperson said.
"The criminal proceedings will follow accepted legal standards. The suspects will be entitled to legal defense, and the arrest and investigation will be subject to judicial oversight. If a charge against a suspect is found to be baseless, he will be released," the spokesperson added.
AG refuses to ok use of Hamas officials as 'bargaining chips'
Avi Issacharoff and Amos Harel, Haaretz, June 30, 2006
Does this have anything to do with Corporal Gilad Shalit who was only abducted last Sunday?
Frankly, I think if anything this massive assault endangers his life. There is nothing wrong with an operation to free him - but it is very doubtful the security forces expected him to be at any of the locations where they arrested high-level Hamas members.