Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 23 November 2020

Israel frees last of Jewish extremists jailed in aftermath of Duma firebombing

Last July’s arson attack in the occupied West Bank killed 18-month-old Ali Dawabshe and his mother and father. The couple’s four-year-old son was the sole survivor of the attack.
Meir Ettinger appears in court in Nazareth Illit last August. Ariel Schalit, File/AP Photo
Meir Ettinger appears in court in Nazareth Illit last August. Ariel Schalit, File/AP Photo

JERUSALEM // Israel on Wednesday freed a Jewish extremist who was jailed last year in the aftermath of a firebombing that killed a Palestinian toddler and his parents.

Meir Ettinger was one of a number of Israeli hardliners detained following the West Bank incident, which triggered an outcry over the apparent impunity of the perpetrators of such attacks.

The 24-year-old, who was released from Eshel prison in the southern Israeli city of Beersheba, was the last of those interned to be freed.

Last July’s firebombing in the village of Duma killed 18-month-old Ali Dawabshe and his mother and father. The couple’s four-year-old son was the sole survivor of the attack.

Mr Ettinger has never been directly implicated in the Duma arson itself but was accused of being a key figure behind a wave of nationalist hate crimes targeting Palestinians and Christians in Israel.

He was detained for ten months without charge or trial under a controversial Israeli policy usually reserved for Palestinians. It was the longest any Jew had ever been held in so-called “administrative detention”.

As of last December, the longest a Palestinian had been held in administrative detention was eight years, according to Palestinian human rights organisation Addameer.

A spokesman from Shin Bet, Israel’s internal security agency, said Mr Ettinger’s release was subject to a raft of conditions.

He will be banned from visiting the occupied West Bank for a year and Jerusalem for six months, and be placed under night-time curfew in his home for the next four months. He will also be prohibited from contacting a list of nearly 100 right-wing figures for six months.

Mr Ettinger’s grandfather, Meir Kahane, founded Kach, a now outlawed far-right movement that advocated the expulsion of Palestinians from Israel. Kahane was assassinated in New York in 1990.

Administrative detention allows alleged suspects to be held without trial for periods of up to six months, renewable indefinitely. The practice has long been criticised by human rights groups.

According to Israeli rights group, B’Tselem, “Israel’s use of administrative detention blatantly violates the restrictions of international law ... [which states that the practice can only be used] in the most exceptional cases”.

B’Tselem says thousands of Palestinians have been held in administrative detention over the years, for period ranging from several months to several years.

There are currently around 750 Palestinians being held in administrative detention, according to the Palestinian Prisoners Club.

* Agence France-Presse

Updated: June 1, 2016 04:00 AM

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