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First Israeli Jailed Without Trial in Sweep After West Bank Arson

Murder of Palestinian Infant Sparks Violent Clashes 2:07

JERUSALEM — Israel jailed a suspected Jewish militant without trial on Tuesday, the first application of the controversial measure against a citizen in a government-ordered crackdown following 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 recent 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 new measures Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's security cabinet approved for Jews suspected of violence against Palestinians after Friday's arson in the West Bank. The attack killed a Palestinian toddler and severely injured three relatives.

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

Two other 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 immediately detail Salonim's terms.

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

Israeli police issued a rare public call on Tuesday for leads in the arson case. A police spokeswoman denied, however, that this signaled difficulties in the investigation.