Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon approved orders Sunday authorizing the detention without trial for six months of two far-right Jewish activists, as security forces upped the pressure on extremist groups with a series of raids on settlement outposts.
Activist Meir Ettinger, the grandson of the late Israeli-American ultranationalist Rabbi Meir Kahane, and Eviatar Slonim were both arrested last week in connection with alleged extremist activity.
In a statement, the Defense Ministry said Ya’alon had signed the order at the recommendation of the Shin Beit security service and that it was effective immediately.
Earlier in the day, police officers and Shin Beit agents raided several homes in settlement outposts in the West Bank and detained at least nine people.
One of the outposts targeted was Adei Ad, part of the Shiloh bloc of settlements. The outpost lies several kilometers from the Palestinian village of Duma, the scene of a firebombing on July 31 that killed a Palestinian infant and his father. The attack is believed to have been carried out by Jewish extremists.
The far-right legal aid organization Honenu said that in another raid, at the Kochav Hashahar settlement and the nearby Givat Habaladim outpost, also in the region of Duma, seven people were detained by security forces.
Several of those detained during the raids were released a few hours later.
Full details of the raids were under a gag order, although initial reports after the firebombing attack said the killers may have set out for Duma from nearby settlement outposts.
Following Ettinger’s arrest last week, the Shin Bet said it had detained him for “his involvement in a Jewish extremist organization.” The agency has accused Ettinger of heading an extremist movement seeking to bring about religious “redemption” through attacks on Christian sites and Palestinian targets.
The detention orders issued on Sunday came after Mordechai Mayer, 18, was detained last week for a period of six months without trial for his suspected involvement in an arson attack in June on the Church of the Multiplication of Loaves and Fishes, located on the shores of the Sea of Galilee.
Ya’alon had been expected to approve more orders enabling security forces to hold far-right activists without trial.
Detention without trial is considered a harsh and controversial method, used by Western governments to combat the threat of terror when there is not enough evidence against a suspect to justify a criminal trial. In Israel, suspects can be held indefinitely, in renewable six-month periods.
Security forces were bracing for an escalation of violence in the West Bank Sunday after Saad Dawabsha, the father of Ali Dawabsha, the Palestinian infant killed in the Duma attack, succumbed to his wounds Saturday.
Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.