A Jewish teenager detained without trial since August of last year over his suspected involvement in two arson attacks was released on Sunday, with no charges filed against him.
Mordechai Mayer, 18, of the settlement of Ma’ale Adumim, was the first alleged Jewish extremist arrested and held in administrative detention, in an order approved by Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon.
Mayer, the son of US immigrants, was held in connection with arson attacks on the Church of the Multiplication of the Loaves and Fishes, located at Tabgha, on the shore of the Sea of Galilee in July 2015; and Jerusalem’s Dormition Abbey, in February of last year.
While the defense minister approved the six-month order, Mayer was freed just shy of his fifth month of detention without charges.
“This is an earthquake,” Mayer’s attorneys said in a statement. “The boy was held five months in jail because of false information.”
Upon his arrest, Mayer’s parents had accused the Shin Bet security service of “scapegoating” their son.
“Yesterday night there was a knock on the door, they showed us the [detention] order and took him for half a year,” Gedaliya Mayer said in August. “They didn’t say a word about why, any suspicions, nothing — just that they were taking him to jail. We discovered that in Israel they can take an 18-year-old boy to prison for half a year without accusing him of anything. They had to arrest someone, and he was the scapegoat.”
Mayer’s release on Sunday came hours after the two main suspects in the deadly Duma firebombing were indicted.
Amiram Ben-Uliel, 21, confessed and reenacted the July 31, 2015, attack, in which three members of the Dawabsha family were killed, according to the Shin Bet. He was charged with murder. Another minor, identified only as Aleph Aleph, was indicted as an accomplice.
Administrative detention allows a terror suspect to be held indefinitely without trial in six-month renewable increments. While detainees can appeal the detention itself to the High Court of Justice or lower district courts, the suspects do not receive full trials or have access to the evidence against them.