Action on 'Jewish terrorism': Israel extends detention of two far-right activists following Duma petrol bombing

Settlements raided as detention of extremists after arson attack is extended

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Israel have extended the detention without charge of two far-right activists for six months, as security forces raided three settlement outposts as part of their crackdown against anti-Arab violence in the West Bank.

The government has pledged tough action against Jewish terrorism after the 31 July petrol bombing in Duma village that killed an 18-month-old Palestinian boy, Ali Dawabsha. Ali’s father, Saad, died of injuries sustained in the attack over the weekend.

At least nine individuals suspected in recent violent attacks against Palestinians were taken into custody during Sunday’s raids. The raids took place at the Adei Ad settlement outpost and Givat Habaladim outpost, both near Duma, according to the Times of Israel website. It was unclear where the third location was.

A spokesperson for Israel’s Shin Bet security service said an unspecified number of individuals were “under investigation”.  No one was placed under arrest and most were released by evening, the spokesperson said.

Earlier, the Defence Minister Moshe Yaalon issued a six-month order of detention without trial against Meir Ettinger, the 24-year-old activist believed by the Shin Bet to be the head of an extremist religious organisation behind attacks on Palestinian targets and Christian sites. 

Mr Ettinger was arrested last week, with authorities declining to say whether or not he was suspected in the Duma attack and saying only that he was suspected of “involvement and activity in a Jewish extremist organisation.” The lawyer for Mr Ettinger, who is the grandson of anti-Arab racist rabbi Meir Kahane, said the administration order was an indication that authorities have no actual evidence against him.

“There is no proof whatsoever that he engaged in violence,” Mr Zemer said. “If they had any, they would put him on trial. They are just using a few right-wing activists as scapegoats.”

In a blog post before his arrest, Mr Ettinger denied he was head of any organisation. Another young activist arrested last week in connection with alleged extremist activity, Eviatar Slonim, was also ordered detained without trial for six months yesterday. Last week, another young man, Mordechai Mayer, was placed in administrative detention for his alleged role in the torching of the Church of the Loaves and Fishes at the Sea of Galilee.

The controversial practice of administrative detention, which has been widely used against Palestinians, was expanded in the aftermath of the Duma attack to include Israeli citizens.

“We see all terrorism as something that has to be fought and defeated and we will use the power of the law enforcement community and the military and security service to defeat this evil phenomenon that threatens not only our Palestinian neighbours but our democracy,” said Mark Regev, spokesman for the Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, said. 

But Israeli observers say it remains to be seen whether the steps portend a real shift away from what Israeli President Reuven Rivlin conceded after the Duma attack is a “lax” attitude by the authorities towards Jewish terrorism.

“It will be a big failure if they don’t catch those responsible for Duma, so they are likely to put all their effort into catching them,” the analyst Meron Rapoport told The Independent. But, he said, a real confrontation of settler violence would have to entail the dismantling of the settler outposts established since 1996, and maintained with government support in contravention of both Israeli and international law.

“The outposts are the main cause of daily friction and without their removal I don’t see the violence and harassment going away,” he said.

But dismantling any of the outposts would not happen as long as the pro-settler Jewish Home party remains in the coalition, he added.