The Shin Bet is not saying whether he has been linked to last week’s attack, only that he was taken into custody for “involvement and activity in a Jewish extremist organisation”. The teenage girl later died. Without a resolution of the status of the West Bank, Palestinian anger-not just at the settlements and the occupation but at a Palestinian Authority government widely viewed as corrupt and ineffectual-will grow, and settler extremists operating in a state of legal limbo will continue to feel they can act with impunity.
Whether he is innocent or guilty of being involved in the Duma attack, Mr Ettinger has become the face of a violent extremism that many Israelis fear is spinning out of control and beginning to threaten the fabric of their society. Ettinger is the grandson of Rabbi Meir Kahane, whose Kach party was banned from the Israeli Knesset in 1988 for its openly racist views.
Menawhile, Israeli police have opened an investigation into threats on social media against President Reuven Rivlin following his condemnation of “Jewish terrorism” after a firebombing killed a Palestinian child, a presidential spokesman said on Monday.
The arrest comes on the heels of a violent spate of attacks in Israel and the Palestinian territories that threatened to ignite widespread violence in the region. The attack killed 18-month-old Ali Saad Dawabsha and left his parents and four-year-old brother critically wounded.
Zemer also accused the Shin Bet of arresting Ettinger for “PR purposes” rather than for a real investigative reason.
Authorities said last week they have filed indictments against two other young Israeli extremists and arrested three others in connection with the church arson attack. The Shin Bet sought to put Ettinger under administrative detention in 2014, according to Haaretz, but state prosecutor Shai Nitzan denied the request, instead barring Ettinger from Jerusalem and the West Bank.
A month before the attack on the church, Ettinger called on his blog for more attacks on Christian religious sites. Zemer said he did not know what had prompted the security services to reportedly classify Ettinger number-one on the most-wanted on a list of Jewish extremists. He moved to the northern city of Tzfat, a hub for Jewish religious mystics. “There are many Jews, many more than is thought, whose values are completely different from those of the supreme court and Shin Bet and for whom the binding laws are not the laws of the state but much more eternal laws”, he said.
Shaul Golan, a photographer for Israel’s Yedioth Ahronoth newspaper, captured the incident during clashes between Palestinian farmers and Israeli settlers in the illegal Israeli settlement of Esh Kodesh in the West Bank on Saturday. COGAT, the defense body that handles civilian issues with the Palestinians, said the demolition was coordinated with the settlers and there were no protests.