Jailed Jewish extremist barred from attending son’s circumcision
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Jailed Jewish extremist barred from attending son’s circumcision

Court rejects petition to grant brief furlough to Meir Ettinger on grounds he poses a threat to the public

Tamar Pileggi is a breaking news editor at The Times of Israel.

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 Beersheba District Court judge on Sunday rejected a petition to grant a furlough to Jewish extremist Meir Ettinger so he could attend his son’s circumcision, on the grounds he remains a threat to the public.

Ettinger’s lawyer responded by petitioning to the High Court of Justice, which has yet to rule.

Ettinger, a 23-year-old 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, has been in administrative detention for seven months.

He was arrested under the controversial measure, which allows officials to hold suspects without charging them, in August, days after a lethal firebomb attack on a Palestinian home in the West Bank that resulted in the death of three members of the Dawabsha family.

Israel has charged a man and a minor over the attack, but Ettinger — the grandson of deceased extremist rabbi Meir Kahane — has not been directly linked to the incident, which prompted a crackdown on Jewish extremists.

According to reports, both the Shin Bet security agency and the Israel Prisons Service recommended Ettinger not be allowed to leave for the ceremony, scheduled for Monday.

Prison officials proposed holding the circumcision at the prison. However Ettinger’s wife, Moriah, said the couple was not willing to do so. In 2007, Yitzhak Rabin assassin Yigal Amir attended his son’s circumcision, which was held in prison.

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 of the Loaves and Fishes at Tabgha, on the Sea of Galilee, which was set on fire in what police suspect was an arson attack, June 18, 2015. (Basel Awidat/Flash90)

Lawyers from Honenu, a legal organization that defends right-wing extremists, petitioned the High Court of Justice after the rejection Sunday.

The petition, filed by attorney Adi Kedar, claims Ettinger is the victim of a political witch hunt, and urged the court to expedite the proceedings so his client could attend the circumcision.

In January, after the Defense Ministry said his detention would be extended for another six months, Ettinger launched a hunger strike to protest his remand. Seventeen days later, he lost consciousness and was rushed to the hospital for medical treatment.

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

In August 2015, Ettinger was arrested for his “involvement in violent activities and terrorist attacks that occurred recently, and his role as part of a Jewish terrorist group.”

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

AFP contributed to this report

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