Jewish extremist placed under administrative detention in Israel

(Photo: REUTERS / Ammar Awad)Palestinian Imam Ibrahim Abu Luha looks out a mosque window that was set alight in an overnight attack in Al-Jaba'ah village near the West Bank city of Bethlehem February 25, 2015. A Palestinian mosque was set alight in the occupied West Bank on Wednesday and graffiti in Hebrew at the scene suggested the attack was carried out by a far-right Israeli group, officials said. Israeli police said they were investigating the attack.

Israel has detained the first Jewish extremist under tough new regulations allowing Jews suspected of "terrorism" to be imprisoned without trial.

Mordechai Meyer, 18, from the East Jerusalem settlement of Maale Adumim, was placed in six-month's administrative detention, The Daily Telegraph reported August 5.

His detention was reportedly for suspected involvement in an arson attack on the iconic "loaves and fishes" church in Galilee in June and it comes at a time of stepped-up brazen attacks by Jewish extremists.

Israel's defence ministry on July 5 accused Meyer in a statement of "involvement in violent activity and recent terrorist attacks as part of a Jewish terror group," ABC News reported in Australia.

Moshe Ya'alon, the defence minister, signed the order after after the Israeli attorney general, Yehuda Weinstein, approved the use of administrative detention.

It followed a fire-bomb attack July 31 on a Palestinian home in the West Bank that killed a one-year-old child and badly injured his parents and brother leaving them fighting for their lives.

Israel had used administrative detention laws to hold hundreds of Palestinians without trial drawing criticism from civil liberties groups that say it undermines the due process of the law.

The Israeli security cabinet agreed to extend it to Jewish suspects following widespread outrage over last week's arson in the West Bank village of Duma.

Police said they were still chasing leads to identify culprits for the Duma attack and issued an appeal for information along with a mobile phone number for members of the public to call.

Israeli officials did not specify the reason for Meyer's detention, which will initially last six months and came two days after he had been placed under house arrest.


Israeli media linked it to an alleged involvement in the June 18 fire attack that badly damaged the Church of the Multiplication of Loaves and Fishes on Lake Kinneret, marking the site where Jesus is believed to have performed a miracle of feeding 5,000 people.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told his cabinet Aug. 2 that there is "zero tolerance" for terrorism and hate crimes in Israel, Reuters news agency reported.

"In the last two days we have witnessed two abhorrent crimes. Our policy toward such crimes is zero tolerance. I have instructed security and law enforcement officials to use all legal means at their disposal to catch the killers and bring them to justice," Netanyahu said.

He noted that he meant in this case both the two masked men - believed to be Jewish extremists - who killed toddler Ali Dawabsha when they torched his family's home in the Palestinian village of Duma on July 31.

He was also referring to an ultra-Orthodox Jew Yishai Schlissel who stabbed six people at a Gay Pride parade in Jerusalem on July 30.

"We are determined to vigorously fight all manifestations of hatred, fanaticism and terrorism on either side. The battle against this phenomenon unites all of us.

"It is not a battle of one [political] camp or another, but rather an issue of basic human values, that are the Jewish values under which we operate," he said.

Netanyahu said, what differentiates Israel from its neighbors is that "we denounce and condemn these murderers and will chase them [until we find them], while [our neighbors] name streets after those who kill children."

Critics of Israel says its policy of tolerance to the expansion of politically and socially conservative Jewish settlers in areas that are claimed by Palestinians fuels extremism and resentment against it.

An Israeli teenager died on Aug. 2 of stab wounds sustained when an ultra-Orthodox man with a knife attacked a Gay Pride parade in Jerusalem on July 30, police said.

High school student Shira Banki, 16, was one of six people wounded in the assault  and died later. Her death highlighted the city's sharp social divisions between Orthodox and secular Jews.

The suspect was arrested at the scene. Police have come under criticism for not keeping him under surveillance, as he had been released from prison only weeks earlier after being jailed for stabbing three at the same event in 2005.

"We won't permit the terrible murderer to challenge the basic values on which Israeli society is built." Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a statement after sending his condolences to the family.

"We reject with disgust any attempt to impose hatred and violence among us and will bring the murderer to justice," it said. "Shira was murdered because she bravely supported the principle that everyone has the right to live their lives respectfully and with security."

The annual gay pride parade in Jerusalem drew some 5 000 this year, but has long created tension between Israel's mainly secular majority and the growing ultra-Orthodox Jewish minority, who abhor public displays of homosexuality.

Copyright © 2015 Ecumenical News