Court Approves Administrative Detention of Far-right Activist Meir Ettinger

Ettinger's lawyer is not surprised by the move, but calls his client's detention 'unjustified,' and plans to appeal to the Supreme Court.

Olivier Fitoussi

Central District Court President Avraham Tal on Sunday approved an order to hold far-right activist Meir Ettinger in administrative detention for six months, as per the wishes of Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon.

Ettinger is one of three Jewish suspects in administrative detention, and his is the first detention to receive court sanction. In the coming days, the court will rule on the other detainees, Eviatar Slonim and Mordechai Meir. During his hearing, Ettinger stated that he does not recognize any court that does not abide by Torah laws. Ettinger also claimed that he engages in spreading ideology and is not involved in any acts of violence.

The court's ruling was not published, in accordance with the law. Attorney Yuval Zemer, from the organization Honenu, Ettinger's counsel, said that he would study the ruling and will likely file an appeal with the Supreme Court.

"As we expected, the court has approved the administrative order, giving in, in effect, to a group of witnesses and preliminary documents presented by the Shin Bet and the police. It would be false to say I'm surprised, as the Israeli court has never turned down a request to issue an administrative detention order," said Zemer.

Attorney Zemer added, "I'm very saddened by this decision. Although an initial reading shows that a great deal of our claims were accepted by the court, and despite the fact that Mr. Ettinger has never been involved in any violent acts, nor has he ever violated any other administrative orders against him, the court still found legal grounds to allow for his arrest. Like we've said in the past, this is a political arrest meant to satisfy public opinion in Israel and abroad. This arrest has nothing to do with legal practices, because those who read the ruling and are privy to the details, like me, know that legally speaking, there is no justification for this arrest."

On the other hand, the District Court Prosecutor's office, which represented the government at the hearing, issued a statement in response to inquiry. "According to the intelligence information presented to the court by the security services, Ettinger was at the helm of an organization that set for itself the goal of undermining the democratic character of Israel's government.

"The members of that organizations were seemingly responsible for a series of hate crimes, including the arson attacks at the Church of the Dormition in Jerusalem and the Church of the Multiplication near Tiberias. In its ruling, the court accepted the government's position that this organization's actions constitute a clear, immediate danger to national security and public safety.  The court rejected Ettinger's claims that he was spreading his ideology in accordance with the acceptable practices within a democratic country. The government will apply the criteria laid down in court's ruling in relation to other actions that can and will be taken in the fight against terrorism"