Meir Ettinger attends a remand hearing at the Magistrate’s Court in Nazareth..
(photo credit: AMMAR AWAD / REUTERS)
Libby Kahane, widow of assassinated Rabbi Meir Kahane, made a passionate appeal on Sunday for the life of her jailed grandson, Meir Ettinger, who began a hunger strike last week.
In a letter to The Jerusalem Post, she voiced concern about his health as he approaches the end of his detention order issued by Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon.
“With two weeks left of the six months decreed by Ya’alon, my grandson Meir began a hunger strike on Wednesday, January 20,” Kahane said. “I hope and pray it will succeed in touching the hearts of the powers that be, but I am concerned about the harm to his health.”
Ettinger was arrested on August 3 and issued with a detention order on August 15 on suspicion of being active in a “violent extremist Jewish organization.”
His writings, however, are seen by the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) as the ideological underpinning for the firebombing of a Palestinian home in Duma last July, in which three members of the Dawabsha family were killed.
The Lod District Court upheld the detention order in September.
Three people, including two minors, have been charged in connection with the Duma attack.
No charges have been filed against Ettinger for the Duma attack, but Ettinger is believed to be part of the same terrorist cell as those who allegedly carried out the attack.
Shin Bet officials have said Ettinger heads a movement that also was allegedly responsible for the June 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 reportedly transferred recently to solitary confinement and has limited, monitored contact with his family.
For her part, Libby Kahane denied that her grandson had committed any crime.
“If there were any evidence that my grandson Meir committed a crime, he should be put on trial on in open court,” she said, recalling that her “late husband was jailed under those same despicable administrative detention orders in May 1980.”
“My grandson has not been tried in court because he has not committed any crime. What he has done is not considered a crime in any democratic country. He expressed unpopular views in a blog he wrote on the Hebrew website ‘Hakol Hayehudi.’ Simply put, the powers-that-be don’t like the way he thinks. When his case came to court for review after his first three months in prison, the judge ordered his imprisonment continued.
The reason he gave was Meir had not changed his views. The Honenu lawyer said, ‘If the judge wants him to change his opinions, he can send him to Korea; there they know how to make people change their opinions.’ “Is Israel turning into a totalitarian state? What is happening to our beloved Israel, the only democracy in the Middle East?” Kahane asked.
According to the Shin Bet, an underground movement of dozens of Jewish extremists emerged in October 2013. They set themselves the goal of toppling the state, replacing it with a “Judean monarchy,” and building a third temple, while expelling non-Jews from the land and creating a fundamentalist theocracy led by a king.
The number of youths who subscribe to such ideas is very small – no more than a few dozen – but each one has the potential to carry out another attack and ignite the region. Many of the ideas of this group of activists can be traced to the writing of Ettinger, the intelligence agency said at the start of the month.
Additionally, a manifesto titled The Kingdom of Malice, written by activist Moshe Orbach, and obtained by the Shin Bet in July 2015, contains instructions for followers on how to evade intelligence tracking and how to avoid leaving behind forensic trails. It calls for the setting up of small cells across the country, made up of three to five operatives each, who would begin carrying out acts of violence.
The document also contains detailed, practical instructions on how to commit sabotage and arson attacks on Palestinian homes using Molotov cocktails.
JTA contributed to this report.