Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon on Tuesday issued rare approval for detention without trial for a suspected Jewish terrorist, officials said, as security forces arrested another Jewish suspect.
Israel has begun to crack down on so-called Jewish extremists after the death of an 18-month-old Palestinian baby in a firebomb attack on his home in the West Bank village of Duma. The baby’s parents and 4-year-old brother are all being treated for severe burns in Israeli hospitals.
The attack, coupled with a fatal stabbing spree by an extremist Jew at Jerusalem’s gay pride parade hours day earlier, sparked an international and domestic outcry over Israel’s failure to get to grips with violence by hardline Jews.
Ya’alon signed an administration detention order for Mordechai Mayer on Tuesday night, the Defense Ministry said. Mayer is suspected of having played a role in the arson attack on the Church of the Multiplication in the Galilee earlier this summer.
The defense minister tweeted Tuesday night that Israel “will never tolerate terror attacks like the ones in Duma or at the gay pride parade in Jerusalem.”
Earlier Tuesday, Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein signed off on the six-month detention without trial for three suspects. Eighteen-year-old Mayer, originally from the West Bank city of Maale Adumim, appears to be the first target.
“Minister Ya’alon this evening signed an administrative detention order of six months for the right-wing activist Mordechai Mayer of Maale Adumim, in connection to his involvement with violent activities and recent terror attacks, as part of a Jewish terrorist organization,” the Defense Ministry said.
“This order has been signed with the recommendation of the Shin Bet security service.”
Five people are suspected of carrying out the June 19 arson attack on the church commemorating Jesus’ miracle of multiplication along the shores of the Sea of Galilee, but thus far only three have been indicted.
Also Tuesday, the Shin Bet announced the arrest of a second Jewish radical so far for association with an illegal group.
“A second individual, Eviatar Slonim, was arrested for belonging to an extremist organization,” a Shin Bet spokesperson said, without providing details of any charges against him.
Meir Ettinger, whose grandfather Meir Kahane founded the racist anti-Arab Kach group, was arrested Monday; on Tuesday a court extended his detention until the weekend, on suspicion of “nationalist crimes.”
Mayer was placed under house arrest earlier this week and served with a restraining order to keep him away from the West Bank and Jerusalem. Slonim and Ettinger are also bound to keep out of the West Bank and Jerusalem.
This week, the Israeli government authorized security officials to use administrative detention and all other appropriate means to track down and hold suspects in Friday’s murder of Palestinian infant Ali Saad Dawabsha.
Israel normally only uses the measure, which dates from British Mandate, against Palestinians, allowing renewable six-month periods of detention without trial.
Currently, 379 of the 5,686 Palestinian prisoners held in Israeli jail are on administrative detention, according to some official figures.
Honenu, a legal aid organization that assists Israelis accused of security crimes, will represent Mayer.
“The fact that only two days ago this young man received an administrative house arrest order and that it has been decided to ‘upgrade’ the order to an administrative detention, points to the authorities populist style of management,” the organization told Israeli website Ynet in response to Ya’alon’s decision.
“We decidedly oppose the use of detentions and administrative orders against Jews. The draconian use of these order goes around the court and effectively obviates the existence of the State of Israel,” Honenu said.
AFP contributed to this report