Far-right activist Ettinger to be released from administrative detention

Meir Ettinger was originally arrested in August following the Duma arson attack.

Meir Ettinger attends a remand hearing at the Magistrate’s Court in Nazareth. (photo credit: AMMAR AWAD / REUTERS)
Meir Ettinger attends a remand hearing at the Magistrate’s Court in Nazareth.
(photo credit: AMMAR AWAD / REUTERS)
After 10 months in administrative detention, far-right activist Meir Ettinger will be released June 1, according to a statement by the state to Lod District Court President Avraham Tal on Tuesday.
Ettinger, and two other far-right activists, Evyatar Slonim and Mordechai Meir, were detained together in August. But Meir was released on January 3 and Slonim was also released in early February, leaving only Ettinger.
The three were arrested in August following the Duma terrorist arson, in which most of the Palestinian Dawabsha family was burned to death.
In a statement explaining its stance on the issue, the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) said “the administrative detention order of Meir Ettinger was set to expire on June 1, 2016.”
According to the statement, as the expiration date approached, it was decided not to extend the detention and to release Ettinger, subject to other administrative limits, which will reduce “the danger he presents at this time.”
The statement added that they would continue to evaluate the remaining unspecified limits on Ettinger and would make them stricter or more lenient, based on his conduct and an ongoing evaluation.
Attorney Yuval Zamar, from the organization Honenu, responded to the decision saying “it is too little, too late.”
However, he said he is also “very happy that the extremely long detention of Mr. Ettinger is coming to a close, but very sad to learn that in the State of Israel in 2016, a human being can be detained for 10 months” without being charged.
He said Ettinger was detained “solely for his political views, which are not pleasing to the ears of various groups.”
The Jerusalem Post has learned that the decision to release Ettinger at the end of his second detention period was made while taking into account court supervision of the process as well as balancing competing priorities of civil liberties and the security necessity.
Various authorities were asked about the seeming glaring contradiction that only a few weeks ago Ettinger was considered too dangerous to get a temporary release to attend his son’s circumcision, but suddenly now he is less dangerous and can be released.
On the record, all the Justice Ministry would say was “the position of the state in the differing proceedings was determined according to professional opinions of all the relevant authorities.”
However, the Post has learned that the two decisions, about how dangerous Ettinger is and what to do with him, were different in large part because of the mix of agencies, and the fact that their emphases in the proceedings were different.
For example, even as the Justice Ministry and the Shin Bet are consistently involved, the temporary release of a prisoner to attend a family event might give greater weight to the Prisons Service opinion. In contrast, the broader decision about whether to extend administrative detention for an additional period might give greater weight to the Defense Ministry’s opinion.
It is also notable that his second detention order was issued by Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon for four months in the first place instead of the standard six months. This is often an indication from courts and the authorities that they are near the end of approving further extensions, though some Palestinian terrorists have remained in administrative detention for years.
In mid-August, Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon, with the legal approval of then-attorney-general Yehuda Weinstein, took the extremely unusual measure of placing all three far-right activists in administrative detention, with the Lod District Court in September upholding the order until at least February.
Although hundreds of Palestinians can find themselves in administrative detention for terrorism-related allegations at any given time, it has been years since the measure was used against Jews.