Jewish extremist freed after 10 months behind bars
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Jewish extremist freed after 10 months behind bars

Meir Ettinger slapped with nighttime house arrest, ban on entering Jerusalem, West Bank and Yad Binyamin for 6 months

Alleged head of a Jewish extremist group Meir Ettinger appears in the Magistrate's Court in Nazareth Illit, August 4, 2015. (AP/Ariel Schalit)
Alleged head of a Jewish extremist group Meir Ettinger appears in the Magistrate's Court in Nazareth Illit, August 4, 2015. (AP/Ariel Schalit)

A Jewish extremist held by police for 10 months over his alleged leadership role in a terror cell was freed from jail Wednesday.

Meir Ettinger was released to a partial house arrest and was banned from entering the West Bank for a period of one year, as well as Jerusalem and the central town of Yad Binyamin for six months.

He was also court-ordered to refrain from contacting some 92 named far-right activists.

The grandson of assassinated far-right rabbi Meir Kahane, Ettinger has been described by police as the leader of a Jewish underground bent on turning Israel into a theocracy. He is considered a leading, radical member of Israel’s “hilltop youth,” young people who move to settlement outposts, resist soldiers’ attempts to evacuate them, and have been known to carry out hate crimes on Palestinian, Christian and Israeli targets.

He was the first suspect to be arrested after a rash of extremist attacks on Palestinians and other non-Jews in Israel and the West Bank last year, notably the torching of The Church of the Multiplication of the Loaves and Fishes at Tabgha on the Sea of Galilee in June and the firebombing murder in July of a baby and his parents in the Palestinian village of Duma.

A priest inspects the damage caused to the Church of the Multiplication at Tabgha, on the Sea of Galilee, in northern Israel, which was set on fire in what police suspect was an arson attack, June 18, 2015. (Basel Awidat/Flash90)
A priest inspects the damage caused to the Church of the Multiplication at Tabgha, on the Sea of Galilee, in northern Israel, which was set on fire in what police suspect was an arson attack, June 18, 2015. (Basel Awidat/Flash90)

Ettinger has been held without charges or trial — what is known in Israel as administrative detention — since August. In January, he was said to have lost consciousness during a hunger strike. His term was extended in February.

Under administrative detention — an anti-terror measure more commonly used against Palestinians — suspects can be held for six months without being charged or tried. The order can be renewed indefinitely.

A statement from the Shin Bet security service earlier in May announcing that Ettinger’s detention would not be extended, said the conditions were necessary to “reduce the threat that he represents at this time.” The restrictions will be reviewed and either lightened or tightened according to Ettinger’s behavior, the statement said.

Ettinger’s lawyer Sima Kochav, of Honenu, a legal organization that defends right-wing extremists, said the continuation of administrative measures against her client caused “unreasonable harm to his freedom, respect and family” and reflected “a real dictatorship” and the “trampling of civil rights.”

Tamar Pileggi contributed to this report.

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