Involvement of the Shin Bet in Criminal Investigations
On May 23, 2023, the Association for Civil Rights in Israel petitioned the Supreme Court to establish a protocol for opening Shin Bet investigations in cases of suspected felonies, and to anchor the requirement for consultation between the head of the Shin Bet and the State Attorney as a condition for initiating an investigation.
The petition emphasized that following the events of May 2021, there has been increasing political pressure on the Shin Bet to intervene in criminal investigations in diverse contexts that are far removed from the narrow context of suppressing threats to national security. These investigations involve acts of disorder, hate crimes, cases related to organized crime, and more, all while adopting an expansive interpretation of the Shin Bet's responsibilities.
In the petition, we stressed the crucial distinction between the covert activities of the Shin Bet - an intelligence agency tasked with countering severe threats to national security or the foundations of the democratic regime - and the activities of the police. To fulfill its role, the Shin Bet was granted extensive and covert powers, and their involvement in criminal matters poses significant violations of the rights of suspects (the petition includes a table illustrating the vast differences in investigative powers between the Shin Bet and the police).
Therefore, the petition argued that the legal interpretation regarding the investigative authority of the Shin Bet must be limited and clear, and the "gray area" between the police and the Shin Bet must be minimal. Suspects should only be investigated by the Shin Bet in clear cases of endangering national security, and involvement in cases falling within the gray area should only occur in exceptional circumstances, where the criteria for suppression and prevention of threats to national security are met. To achieve this, strict and transparent measures are required for the exercise of the Shin Bet's investigative powers, and the actions of the Shin Bet in this context should be subject to real-time oversight by the State Prosecutor."
High Court of Justice 3945/23 Association for Civil Rights in Israel v. Chief of the General Security Service
Attorney: Gil Gan-Moor, Anne Sucio