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Israeli militant jailed in West Bank arson

| Tuesday, Aug. 4, 2015, 7:48 p.m.
Meir Ettinger, the head of a Jewish extremist group, stands at the Israeli justice court in Nazareth Illit on August 4, 2015, a day after his arrest. Police said Ettinger, who is aged around 20, was suspected of 'nationalist crimes' but did not accuse him of direct involvement in last week's firebombing in which a Palestinian toddler was burnt to death in the Israeli-occupied West Bank. He is a grandson of Meir Kahane, a rabbi who founded the racist anti-Arab movement Kach and was assassinated in 1990 in New York. AFP PHOTO / JACK GUEZJACK GUEZ/AFP/Getty Images
AFP/Getty Images
Meir Ettinger, the head of a Jewish extremist group, stands at the Israeli justice court in Nazareth Illit on August 4, 2015, a day after his arrest. Police said Ettinger, who is aged around 20, was suspected of 'nationalist crimes' but did not accuse him of direct involvement in last week's firebombing in which a Palestinian toddler was burnt to death in the Israeli-occupied West Bank. He is a grandson of Meir Kahane, a rabbi who founded the racist anti-Arab movement Kach and was assassinated in 1990 in New York. AFP PHOTO / JACK GUEZJACK GUEZ/AFP/Getty Images

JERUSALEM — Israel jailed a suspected Jewish militant without trial Tuesday, the first application of the controversial measure against a citizen in a government-ordered crackdown over the lethal torching of a Palestinian home.

The suspect, Mordechai Meyer, a resident of a Jewish settlement in the occupied West Bank, was arrested and placed under so-called “administrative detention” for six months, Israel's Defense Ministry said in a statement.

It accused him of “involvement in violent activity and terrorist attacks as part of a Jewish terror group.”

Administrative detention, under which Israel holds hundreds of Palestinians and which civil liberties groups deplore as a blow to due process of the law, was among measures Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's security cabinet approved for Jews suspected in the arson Friday in the West Bank. The attack killed a Palestinian toddler and severely injured three relatives.

Detention without trial is required, Israel says, to prevent further violence in cases in which there is insufficient evidence to prosecute, or in which going to court would risk exposing the identity of secret informants.

Two Israelis with ties to far-right Jewish groups, Meir Ettinger and Eviatar Salonim, were arrested this week. Police said Ettinger was remanded in custody pending further investigation but was not placed under administrative detention. They did detail Salonim's terms.

With years of Israeli hate crimes against Palestinians having turned fatal, and the security services complaining of a justice system that ties their hands in tackling suspects, Netanyahu's government is at pains to show it has taken off the gloves.

Israeli commentators have questioned the resolve of security services which, when responding to Palestinian militant attacks, often round up suspects en masse as part of accelerated investigations.

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