Israel has arrested a second Jewish extremist as part of its crackdown on ultra-nationalists. The arrests follow the death of a Palestinian baby in an arson attack in the West Bank.
Authorities in Israel arrested Eviatar Slonim on Tuesday for belonging to an extremist organization, following the arrest of Meir Ettinger, leader of an ultra-nationalist group, who topped Israeli domestic intelligence agency Shin Bet's list of most wanted Jewish extremists.
Ettinger was placed in "administrative detention," a form of incarceration without trial normally reserved for Palestinian prisoners and the first time the measure has been taken against an alleged Jewish extremist.
Authorities on Monday detained Ettinger, whose grandfather Meir Kahane founded the racist anti-Arab Kach group, and a court prolonged his detention until the weekend on suspicion of "nationalist crimes." No details have been provided on the charges against Slonim.
Later Tuesday, Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon signed an administrative detention order against a third suspected extremist.
The subject of the order is Mordechai Mayer, an Israeli settler arrested for "his involvement in violent activities and terrorist attacks in recent times," a Defense Ministry statement said.
Detention without trial now used for Jewish detainees
Israel normally applies administrative detention, which dates from British-mandated Palestine, against Palestinians, allowing them to be held without trial for renewable six-month periods.
But it can now be used for Jewish detainees in cases where there is insufficient evidence to go to trial or if the suspect refuses to testify.
Police said Ettinger, 23, was suspected of "nationalist crimes," but did not accuse him of direct involvement in last week's firebombing of a Palestinian home in the occupied West Bank, in which a toddler was burned to death.
Ettinger's lawyer, Yuval Zemer, told reporters after Tuesday's hearing that "all that is window dressing, there is nothing on file" connecting him to the arson attack.
Citing a blackout ordered by the authorities, Zemer also said nothing about the exact reasons for his client's arrest on Monday.
There was no suggestion that either Slonim or Mayer were suspects in Friday's attack, which killed 18-month-old Ali Saad Dawabsha, sparking an international outcry over Israel's failure to tackle violence by hardline Jewish settlers.
Dawabsha's parents and brother were badly burned in the attack on their home and remain in a "critical" condition, a hospital spokeswoman said.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu condemned the attack on the Dawabsha family as "terrorism in every respect," and vowed to bring the perpetrators to justice.
mh/sms (AFP, dpa)