3 Jewish extremists arrested in West Bank in ongoing crackdown

Shin Bet detains suspects — including two minors — in settlement outpost north of Jerusalem over undisclosed incident; details under gag order

Illustrative photo of the West Bank settlement of Yitzhar, May 2013 (Mandy Hechtman/Flash90)
Illustrative photo of the West Bank settlement of Yitzhar, May 2013 (Mandy Hechtman/Flash90)

The Shin Bet internal security agency has arrested three Jewish suspects in a crackdown that follows a recent fatal arson attack in the West Bank, Israel Radio reported Thursday.

The trio — two minors and one adult — were apprehended at a settlement outpost in the Binyamin region, north of Jerusalem, and taken to a Shin Bet facility for questioning as part of an investigation into a recent, undisclosed incident.

Legal group Honenu, which frequently represents Jewish suspects accused of nationalistic crimes, said that an order was issued forbidding the trio from meeting with their lawyers.

The details of the investigation have been placed under a gag order.

The new arrests follow a number of other arrests of far-right activists, as the government declared a crackdown on fundamentalist Jewish ideologues in the wake of a deadly arson attack in a Palestinian village in the West Bank on July 31 that left a father and his baby son dead — and was thought to have been carried out by Jews.

Israel has approved the detention without trial for six months of three Jewish activists — Meir Ettinger, the grandson of the late Israeli-American ultranationalist Rabbi Meir Kahane; Mordechai Mayer; and Eviatar Slonim. Ettinger has been linked by the Shin Bet to the arson attack on the Church of the Multiplication of the Loaves and Fishes in the Galilee in July, which left the church badly damaged.

More than a dozen Jewish suspects have been detained over the past two weeks, as security services raided several homes in settlement outposts in the West Bank.

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.

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.

Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.

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