The decision prohibiting the General Security Service from
using any forms of physical pressure and other means deemed
illegal has elicited sharp criticism from the security
State Attorney General Elyakim Rubinstein has indicated that
he would begin to formulate legislation to define what
methods may be employed by interrogators to provide a
framework within the law for their continued operations.
Justice Minister Yossi Beilin, who hailed the decision,
opposes the attorney general's plans. Beilin called the
decision a much needed and overdo step in Israel's "modern-
day democratic society."
Former senior security establishment officials have indicated
the decision, which was handed down by a special nine-justice
panel of the High Court, will impede the security agency's
ability to extract information from terrorists and thereby,
limit its ability to prevent planned terrorist attacks.
Some legislators denounced the judges as being out of touch
with reality. They warned that the decision sent exactly the
wrong message at a time when terrorism is on the rise.
National Union MK Hanan Porat sarcastically suggested that
the burden of protecting the nation from terror fall in the
laps of the High Court justices. MK Rechavam Ze'evi, also of
the National Union, warned that the court has tied the hands
of the GSS.
MK Ruby Rivlin, chairman of the Likud caucus in the Knesset,
said he planned to introduce legislation to allow the
attorney general or other senior government figure or agency
to permit the General Security Service to use moderate
physical force during the interrogation of prisoners with
suspected knowledge of planned terrorist attacks.
He charged that the High Court decision protects the
murderers instead of the intended victims.
The GSS has always maintained that certain methods were
employed when it was a matter of preventing terrorist attacks
and the interrogations dealt with saving innocent lives.
There were some voices who praised the ruling, though not
without a heavy dose of irony. Elyakim Haetzni, of Kiryat
Arba, who once served as an MK for the now-defunct right-wing
Techiya party, said Israelis should welcome the "tightening
of the leash on an otherwise undisciplined and morally-
"After Judge Landau permitted the use of force 12 years ago,
one has to ask why the Supreme Court saw fit to now limit
that power. The law hasn't changed, and the terror is the
same terror. My explanation is that the leadership and
officers of the GSS have proven, over the past few years, in
case after case, that they are not trustworthy," he said.
Specifically, Haetzni noted the Bus 300 incident in 1984, in
which two Arab terrorists were killed by GSS agents, whose
superiors then falsified evidence and lied. He also called
attention that the GSS had a hand in incriminating settlers
in the September 1995 murder of an Arab from Halhoul.
After the radio reported the killing, a Jewish group calling
itself Eyal claimed responsibility for the act. It was later
shown that the killing had been carried out by Arabs, and
that there was no Eyal organization. It was a total
fabrication, the work of GSS agent-provocateur Avishai Raviv
with the intention of exacerbating public sentiment against