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.

Israeli soldiers in the Palestinian village of Burqa (Photo:Nasser Ishtayeh)

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.

The car of the Shin Bet

This is how, for example, violence was allowed to deteriorate in the plant nursery of Muhammad Mahmada, near the village of As-Sawiya in the West Bank. Between 2021 and 2022, Mahmada suffered from repeated incidents of theft and vandalism by “Hilltop Youth” who repeatedly came to his plant nursery, using the same vehicle. The far-right activists and their vehicle were clearly visible in the plant nursery’s security camera footage, and the settlement Ariel police received a report that some of the stolen trees were planted at the entrance to the Rehelim settlement, and that the vehicle used in the incidents was seen in that settlement. They were not arrested. The law was not enforced on them.

In the end, Mahmada managed to catch the far-right activists on his own, the fifth time they came to his plant nursery to carry out their plan. Although it is the same cell of “Hilltop Youth” that operated, the prosecution unit filed only one indictment against one of them, and only on one of the recurring incidents. The charge was for theft, the defendant was not attributed membership of a terrorist organisation, nor a racial motive.

The reason for the unusual conduct was revealed in an investigation published by the Israeli journalist Elisha Ben-Kimon on February 4, 2022 – the vehicle used in the chain of incidents in Mahmada’s plant nursery belonged to the Shin Bet. A Shin Bet agent who was implanted in the cell of the “Hilltop Youth” participated in the incidents.

In response to the complaint submitted to Israel’s deputy state prosecutor for special duties against the Shin Bet, on June 2022, he said that “recently a response was received from some of the parties to whom the complaint was forwarded. In view of the content of the response received, it was decided to deepen the investigation and forward your request to additional parties in order to exhaust the investigation. Another update will be sent after all the responses have been examined and when a decision has been made on them.” Mahmada has been waiting for this decision for over a year.

And so, the Israel Police continued to act negligently, did not recognise the incidents as terrorist incidents, and the deputy state prosecutor for special duties continued to drag his feet in investigating the conduct of the Shin Bet. Therefore, perhaps it is no wonder that on the morning of December 19, 2022, a sixth incident took place at Mahmada’s plant nursery, which was a step up in violence. The “Hilltop Youth” cell arrived again, made a hole in the wall of the building with a hammer and entered through it, stole the security camera and associated apparatus and other property and set fire to the building. Worst of all, they tried to insert a gas tank into the building they set fire to. The gas tank got stuck in the hole they made in the wall. Only by a miracle did the gas tank nor the whole building explode.

Does the Shin Bet’s method work?

Back to Elisha Yered: a review of additional investigation files shows that the Yered and Mahmada cases are not unusual, and this Shin Bet method is also used for other far-right activists. The Shin Bet regularly gathers information about the terrorist activities of the far-right activists, through agents and collaborators and also in other ways, but refrains from stopping such activity in real-time or sharing evidence with the police that would allow them to be prosecuted – except in exceptional cases.

In this way, when one of the “Hilltop Youth” is taken for questioning, the Shin Bet investigators can lay out before him all the terrorist incidents that they know he was involved in over the years. The “surprised” suspect can “choose” whether to admit his involvement in the specific incident for which he was arrested or be prosecuted for the multitude of terror incidents that the Shin Bet knows about – and sometimes to consider whether to become a collaborator of the Shin Bet.

עמירם בן-אוליאל, שהורשע ברצח בני משפחת דוואבשה (צילום: יונתן זינדל)

Amiram Ben Uliel, accused of the Duma arson murder (Photo: Yonatan Sindel(

This also emerges from the facts of the indictment filed against Amiram Ben Uliel who was convicted of murdering the members of the Dawabsha family by setting on fire their home in the West Bank town of Duma, south of Nablus, while they were sleeping. There it is stated that he was known to the Shin Bet and operated for two years prior to the incident as part of a new terror cell of far-right activists who sought to promote an extreme and violent ideological concept aimed at destabilising the State of Israel through the use of terrorism and violence, including killings.

In other words, it is implied in the indictment filed against Ben Uliel that the Shin Bet did not stop his terror cell in real time. At a closed conference of the Likud Party’s youth in Tel Aviv, the then minister of defence Moshe “Bogie” Ya’alon admitted that the security services knew who was responsible for the attack on the Dawabsha family’s home but avoided prosecuting him so as not to reveal intelligence sources in the court. In the end, in view of the tremendous public and political pressure exerted on Israel following the shock of the murder of parents and their one-and-a-half-year-old son, an indictment was filed against Ben Uliel and another suspect.

Does this modus operandi of the Shin Bet reduce Israeli far-right terrorism or encourage it and give such activists a free hand? Since there is no transparency regarding the activities of the Shin Bet, it is difficult to make an overall objective assessment. In any case, it is clear who is paying the price. This is an experiment on Palestinian human beings who, unfortunately, are not recognised by most of the Israeli media and public as human beings, and therefore the experiment on them can continue without interruption.

Attorney Eitay Mack represents Mahmada and other Palestinian victims of Israeli far-right terrorism together with the Israeli human rights organisation Tag-Meir Forum.

Note: This article first appeared on the Hebrew media platform The Seventh Eye. The English version first appeared on The Wire.