Israel puts radical right activists in detention

3 Jewish zealots jailed without trial to date as crackdown on extremist network continues

Meir Ettinger in court last week.
Meir Ettinger in court last week.PHOTO: EUROPEAN PRESSPHOTO AGENCY
He and Eviatar Slonim (above), both in their early 20s, joined Mordechai Meyer, 18, who was placed in administrative detention last week.
He and Eviatar Slonim (above), both in their early 20s, joined Mordechai Meyer, 18, who was placed in administrative detention last week.PHOTO: EUROPEAN PRESSPHOTO AGENCY

JERUSALEM • The Israeli authorities have continued their crackdown against young Jewish zealots believed to be associated with the Revolt, a shadowy network described by its members as an anarchistic vision of redemption.

The extremists' working plan calls for fomenting unrest to bring about the collapse of the State of Israel, with its democratic system of government and courts, and establish a Jewish kingdom based on the laws of the Torah.

Non-Jews are to be expelled, the Third Temple is to be built and religious observance is to be enforced, initially in public spaces.

"The starting point of the Revolt is that the State of Israel has no right to exist, and therefore we are not bound by the rules of the game," write the anonymous authors of the manifesto of sedition that lays out these ideas, which the Shin Bet internal security agency recently discovered.

Six-month administrative detention orders were issued on Sunday against two high-profile activists from the radical right, Meir Ettinger and Eviatar Slonim, both in their early 20s.

Ettinger is the grandson of Meir Kahane, the slain American-Israeli rabbi considered the father of far- right Jewish militancy. Ettinger and Slonim joined Mordechai Meyer, 18, also suspected of being a member of the extremist group, who was placed in administrative detention last week. Meyer had previously been arrested on suspicion of involvement in arson attacks against two churches, but he had been released without charges.

Israel has widely used administrative detention, which allows for imprisonment without charge or trial, against Palestinians under military law in the West Bank, but rarely against its Jewish citizens.

Mr Dvir Kariv, a former Shin Bet official, said sometimes there was no choice but to use the tool of administrative detention, for example, "when there is intelligence that proves involvement of this or that person in a terror action, but use of this intelligence in a court will expose the source of the information".

The Israeli authorities are acting under intense pressure to apprehend the perpetrators of a July 31 arson attack on a Palestinian home in the West Bank village of Duma that killed an 18-month-old, Ali Dawabsheh, and his father, Saad, and left his mother and brother critically wounded. Israel's leaders called the attack Jewish terrorism.

In addition to the detention orders, the police's nationalist crimes unit raided several West Bank settlement outposts overnight and detained a number of suspects "in the wake of recent events in the West Bank", according to a police statement.

But a spokesman for Shin Bet said yesterday that all suspects detained in raids as part of a probe into the firebombing of the Palestinian home had been released on Sunday, as some Israelis criticised the crackdown as too narrow to be effective, and by others as an anti-democratic public relations exercise.

Less sophisticated than the Jewish underground of the 1980s, or the Bat Ayin underground that tried to blow up Palestinian schools in the early 2000s, those suspected as members of the Revolt are not known to be heavily armed or equipped with explosives at this stage.

"The people themselves are known to the Shin Bet," said Mr Lior Akerman, a former Shin Bet officer. "The problem is their modus operandi. They work in very small cells, with no command and control issuing orders, and no hierarchy."


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 11, 2015, with the headline 'Israel puts radical right activists in detention'. Print Edition | Subscribe