Ya'alon: Administrative Detention Used on Jewish Extremists to Prevent Future Attacks

Following remarks defense minister said in a closed meeting that Israel knows who is behind deadly Duma arson, he says authorities 'believe they know who carried out the terrorist attack.'

AP

Israel used administrative detention against right-wing extremists in order to prevent future attacks, Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon said Thursday.

Speaking to military correspondents, Ya'alon was responding to Haaretz's report earlier that Israeli authorities have identified the perpetrators of the Duma arson that killed three members of a Palestinian family, but that no arrests have been made to avoid revealing intelligence sources in court.

According to Ya'alon, the defense establishment "believes they know who carried out the terrorist attack, but there is difficulty in putting them on trial. I hope that we'll find the evidence necessary in order to bring the perpetrator of this heinous attack to justice."

The defense minister also noted that the perpetrators belong to a group of Jewish extremists that intended to increase tension in the West Bank. Therefore, said Ya'alon, the decision was made to put Jewish suspects in administrative detention, in order to prevent future attacks.

Ya'alon made the earlier remarks about the deadly attack on the Dawabshe family home in Duma, the West Bank on Wednesday to a closed meeting of young Likud activists in Tel Aviv.

The Dawabsheh family's home was torched on July 31, immediately burning to death 18-month-old Ali and critically wounding his mother, father and brother. His mother, Reham, and his father, Sa'ad, have since died as well. His four-year-old brother Ahmed is still hospitalized in serious condition.

The words "vengeance" and "long live the Messiah" were spray painted on the torched home, and an empty house nearby was set ablaze as well. An eyewitness reported seeing four men fleeing the scene toward the settlement of Ma'aleh Ephraim.

The IDF described the incident as "Jewish terrorism." At Ya’alon's request following the attack, the political-security cabinet approved the use of administrative detention against suspected Jewish terrorists. Such practice is commonly used against Palestinians suspected of terror activities.

Three Jewish suspects are currently being held without trial for terrorist activities: Meir Ettinger, who according to the Shin Bet headed an extreme rightist organization intent on toppling the Israeli government though violent means, and encouraged others to carry out terrorist acts; Mordechai Meyer, the alleged arsonist behind a fire at Dormition Abbey in Jerusalem; and Eviatar Slonim, accused of setting fire to a home in the Palestinian town of Khirbet Abu Falah. None of these names has been tied publicly to the attack on the Dawabsheh family home in Duma.

On Thursday MKs called on the attorney general to look into Ya'alon's statement on Wednesday that the authorities know who is behind the murder of three members of a Palestinian family in July. 

"A terror attack that ends with the murder of three people and serious injury to another cannot end without an indictment," MK Michal Rozin (Meretz) wrote to Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein. Meretz leader MK Zehava Galon blasted Ya'alon, saying his remarks "reflect an operative, legal and moral failure."

"A situation in which the authorities renounce indicting the child-murdering terrorists in advance is insufferable in a proper state of law," Galon said. "Administrative detention is not a solution because it does not enable bringing the culprits to trial and sentencing them to life – the only penalty suitable for their abominable acts."

Galon accused Ya'alon of "hiding behind security excuses" to hide the defense establishment's incompetence to deal with Jewish terrorism. She said he wouldn't have dared to act or speak like this "if the murder victims had been Jewish."