Israel Places Three Right-wing Extremists Under Administrative Detention

One of the suspects was sent to six months in prison for alleged involvement in a terror group.

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A Palestinian man inspects a house after it was torched, in Duma, near the West Bank city of Nablus, July 31, 2015.
A Palestinian man inspects a house after it was torched, in Duma, near the West Bank city of Nablus, July 31, 2015.Credit: AP

Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein on Tuesday gave the Shin Bet Security Service the green light to arrest three right-wing extremists under an administrative detention order, after the security cabinet approved that use of the measure following the deadly arson attack in the West Bank on Friday.

An administrative detention order enables a person’s arrest without being told what he is suspected of or what evidence there is against him.

One of those detained is Mordechai Meyer, an 18-year-old resident of Ma'aleh Adumim, who was jailed in Rimonim Prison for six months after an administrative detention order was issued against him. Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon, who issued the order, said that Meyer was suspected of involvement in recent violence and terror attacks as part of a Jewish terror group.

Meyer was questioned in the past in connection with the arson attack on the Dormition Abbey in Jerusalem last year, and was also arrested recently on suspicion he was involved in the torching of the Church of the Multiplication of Loaves and Fishes on the Kinneret shore. He was released without being charged, but a restraining order barred him from entering Jerusalem, the West Bank, Safed or Yad Binyamin.

Aviatar Slonim.Credit: Tomer Appelbaum

The Honenu organization, a right-wing legal defense group, described the suspect’s administrative detention as, “A loss of control in the Defense Ministry.”

“The fact that only two days ago the youth got an administrative house arrest order, and now it was already decided to ‘upgrade’ the order to administrative detention, points to the populist behavior of the authorities,” the organization said. “We categorically oppose the use of administrative orders and detention against Jews."

A few hours earlier, another right-wing activist, Aviatar Slonim, was arrested near Beit Shemesh on suspicion he belonged to an extremist group that sought to harm Arabs and replace the government in Israel with a Jewish kingdom.

Slonim had been previously arrested on suspicion of setting fire to a Palestinian home in the South Hebron Hills in November 2014. At the time he was released without being charged but barred by administrative order from entering Jerusalem and the West Bank. The suspect was taken for questioning to the Shin Bet’s Kishon facility in the north.

Also Tuesday the Nazareth Magistrate’s Court extended the custody of Meir Ettinger, the Shin Bet’s most wanted Jewish suspect, until Sunday. The grandson of slain extremist Rabbi Meir Kahane, Ettinger had been arrested Monday on suspicion of also being part of a Jewish underground based in the West Bank.

According to intelligence, Ettinger, 24, escalated his activity in 2014 and started planning a series of attacks against Palestinians. These attacks were meant to stir up unrest among the Palestinians and thus bring about the overthrow of the Israeli government.

Last year the Shin Bet sought to place Ettinger under administrative detention, but State Prosecutor Shai Nitzan denied the request. Instead, a restraining order was issued that barred him from Jerusalem and the West Bank, and he moved to Safed.

The Prevention of Terror Ordinance codifies the instructions for terror-related emergencies, including investigative powers, the use of classified material and administrative detentions. However, the law restricts the use of administrative detention to instances in which there is a justification for using this exceptional tool. After carrying out an administrative detention, the suspect is brought before a magistrate’s court president who examines the evidence and rules on the order.

During a meeting of the security cabinet, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu instructed the authorities to crack down on Jewish terror, using administrative detention if necessary. He also asked to expedite legislation that would give the Shin Bet additional powers.

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