Jewish Extremist Suspected of Jerusalem Arson Released After Five Months

Mordechai Meyer, 18, of the West Bank settlement of Ma’aleh Adumim, was put under administrative detention in August but never formally charged.

Mordechai Meyer's parents in August 2015.
Moti Milrod

A Jewish extremist who had been suspected of involvement in an arson attack on Jerusalem’s Dormition Abbey was released from five months of imprisonment without charges Sunday night – after two other people confessed to the attack.

Mordechai Meyer, 18, of the West Bank settlement of Ma’aleh Adumim, was put under administrative detention in August. The Shin Bet security service ordered his jailing without charges immediately after a deadly firebombing by Jewish terrorists killed a Palestinian toddler and his parents in the West Bank village of Duma.

At a subsequent court hearing on his detention, the Shin Bet argued that Meyer was a danger to the public – not because it suspected him in the Duma attack, but because it had intelligence indicating he was involved in the attack on Dormition Abbey last February. Central District Court President Avraham Tal accepted this argument and approved Meyer’s detention twice.

But during the Shin Bet’s investigation of the Duma murders, two minors who were suspects in that case confessed that they, together with a third person, were responsible for the Dormition Abbey attack.

One minor, A., was charged on Sunday with involvement in both the Duma murders and the Dormition Abbey arson. The other, B., and the third person, Yinon Reuveni, were charged only with the Dormition Abbey attack. Unlike the minors, Reuveni hasn’t confessed.

After the indictment against A. and the others was made public, Meyer’s lawyer, Itzhak Bam, asked the court to release his client. But the Shin Bet decided to release him without waiting for the court’s decision.

Nevertheless, the agency left certain restrictions against Meyer in place. For instance, he must remain under house arrest at night and may not enter the West Bank.

“This is an earthquake,” said Bam, who represented Meyer via the Honenu organization. “A man sat in jail for five months for nothing. We will demand a reconsideration of all the administrative orders and administrative detentions that were apparently issued on the basis of the Shin Bet’s erroneous information.”

From the first, Meyer claimed he had no connection with the Dormition Abbey attack, Bam continued. Nevertheless, he was first arrested, then released and slapped with orders barring him from the West Bank, and finally put in prison without charges for five months, his attorney said, “on orders from the defense minister. Now it turns out he had no connection to this deed.”

The Shin Bet responded that Meyer “belongs to a Jewish terror organization, some of whose members have been served with serious indictments. The basis of his administrative detention was the immediate risk he posed as a member of this organization, and as someone who was involved in its activities.”

After the Duma investigation ended, “and after a reexamination of the risk Meyer posed,” the agency decided to release Meyer from jail but reinstate the other restrictions against him, the Shin Bet’s statement continued. It stressed that these restrictions were imposed not only because of his suspected involvement in the Dormition Abbey attack, but because of “information that indicates his involvement in the activities of the aforesaid terrorist organization.”