Jewish extremist Meir Ettinger to be freed from prison
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Jewish extremist Meir Ettinger to be freed from prison

After eight months of detention without charges, Meir Kahane’s grandson will be released on June 1

Meir Ettinger, the head of a Jewish extremist group, stands at the Israeli justice court in Nazareth Illit on August 4, 2015. (AFP PHOTO / JACK GUEZ)
Meir Ettinger, the head of a Jewish extremist group, stands at the Israeli justice court in Nazareth Illit on August 4, 2015. (AFP PHOTO / JACK GUEZ)

The Lod District Court on Tuesday ruled that the Jewish extremist Meir Ettinger, a grandson of the assassinated ultranationalist rabbi Meir Kahane, will be freed from detention on June 1.

Ettinger was detained for eight months without charges for allegedly leading a Jewish terror group.

The Shin Bet security service said it decided not to extend Ettinger’s detention order, which expires on June 1, but would impose certain restrictions to “reduce, as needed, the danger he poses at this time.”

Though the Shin Bet still maintains Ettinger is a risk to public safety, it did not contest his release, saying it was “an issue of balance” between the threat he poses and the severity of keeping him detained without charge

“Security officials will evaluate the restrictions from time to time and will ease or intensify [them] in accordance with his conduct” after his release, the security agency said.

It did not elaborate on what those restrictions would be.

In April, the Supreme Court upheld a ruling by a lower court against granting Ettinger furlough to attend his son’s circumcision. Justices Noam Sohlberg, Uzi Fogelman and Esther Hayut approved the petition on the grounds he remained a security threat to the public.

The circumcision of Netzach Binyamin Ettinger in Jerusalem on April 4, 2016. (Ari Abramowitz/courtesy)
The circumcision of Netzach Binyamin Ettinger in Jerusalem on April 4, 2016. (Ari Abramowitz/courtesy)

Ettinger was accused of being a key figure in a loose band of youths suspected of a string of nationalist hate crimes targeting Palestinians, Christians and even Israeli soldiers.

Ettinger, 24, was arrested in August, days after a firebomb attack in a Palestinian home in the West Bank killed three members of the Dawabsha family, under a controversial measure that allows officials to hold suspects without charging them.

Israel has charged a man and a minor over the attack, which triggered a crackdown on Jewish extremists, although Ettinger has not been directly linked to the incident.

Lawyers from Honenu, a legal organization that defends Jewish extremists, have maintained Ettinger was a victim of a political witch hunt.

“The Shin Bet continues to wage unrestricted violence against Jews. Why? Because they look and think differently from them,” said attorney Shmuel Meidad in April, according to the ultra-Orthodox news site Behadrei Haredim. “Now we have a situation where a father is being denied the opportunity to fulfill the mitzva of circumcising his son.”

Supreme Court Justice Esther Hayut (C) sits with Justice Noam Sohlberg (R) and Justice Uzi Fogelman during a court hearing for Meir Ettinger at the Supreme Court in Jerusalem on April 4, 2016. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Supreme Court Justice Esther Hayut (C) sits with Justice Noam Sohlberg (R) and Justice Uzi Fogelman during a court hearing for Meir Ettinger at the Supreme Court in Jerusalem on April 4, 2016. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Under administrative detention — an anti-terror measure commonly used for Palestinian security prisoners — a detainee can be held for six months without being charged or tried. The order can be renewed indefinitely in six-month increments.

Ettinger was previously arrested in August 2015 for “involvement in violent activities and terrorist attacks that occurred recently, and his role as part of a Jewish terrorist group.” Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon had signed his detention order.

Shin Bet officials have said Ettinger heads a movement that was responsible for the June 2015 arson attack at the historic Church of the Multiplication of the Loaves and Fishes, and seeks to bring down the government and replace it with a Jewish theocracy.

Ettinger was transferred to solitary confinement and has limited, monitored contact with his family.

AFP contributed to this report.

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