Israel intensified its crackdown on Jewish extremists today, jailing two high-profile ultranationalist Israelis for six months without charge and arresting additional suspects in West Bank settlements. The crackdown comes after a deadly July 31 firebomb attack that killed an 18-month-old Palestinian boy and severely wounded his parents and brother. The father died yesterday. Authorities called the attack an act of "Jewish terrorism," and Israel's Security Cabinet approved the use of harsh measures, including administrative detention, which allows the holding of suspects for lengthy periods without charge. Meir Ettinger, the grandson of the late US-born ultranationalist Rabbi Meir Kahane, and Eviatar Slonim, another Jewish extremist, were placed under administrative detention for their suspected involvement, the office of Israel's Defense Minister said.
The two are in their early 20s. Another suspected Jewish extremist, Mordechai Mayer, was placed under administrative detention. Israeli human rights activists, as well as lawyers for the Israeli suspects, criticized the use of administrative detention, portraying it as a draconian measure intended to appease a shocked Israeli public. "This measure is dangerous...for the entire legal system and for democracy," said Aharon Rozeh, a lawyer for Ettinger and Slonim. Israel's Shin Bet security agency has accused Ettinger of leading an extremist Jewish movement responsible for encouraging attacks on Palestinian property and Christian holy sites. Israeli authorities also carried out raids today in two West Bank settlement outposts. An Israeli police rep said only that the arrests were connected to "a number of events that occurred recently" in the West Bank. (Read more Israel stories.)