Skip to main content

Leadership of hardline Jews linked to Duma arson attack all have dual citizenship

'The Revolt' has called for the destruction of the State of Israel and the creation of a Jewish theocratic kingdom
Meir Ettinger stands at the Israeli justice court in Nazareth Illit (AFP)

At least three of those detained under administration as part of “The Revolt” Zionist ultra-nationalist group linked to a fatal arson attack in the West Bank have dual citizenship.

An editorial in the Australian newspaper Sydney Morning Herald highlighted the plight of Israeli-Australian citizen Evyatar Slonim, one of the first Jews in Israel and the Palestinian territories to be detained under Israeli administrative detention laws.

It also stated that Slonim was a relative of Moshe Feiglin, the controversial former Likud deputy speaker of the Knesset, who was banned from the UK in 2008 after the then Home Secretary Jacqui Smith alleged his presence would “foster hatred".

The Revolt first came to public prominence after members were arrested following the arson attack on a house in the West Bank town of Duma which led to the death of 18-month old Ali Dawabshe and his parents.

Though the three named members are not apparently being charged with direct involvement in the firebombing, they are still being kept in detention. A further three Israeli Jews are also being held in detention accused of direct involvement but cannot be named due to a court-imposed gag order.

Slonim had also previously been arrested on suspicion of setting fire to a home in the West Bank town of Khirbet Abu Falah in November 2014.

A memory stick found by members of the Israeli Shin Bet secret service revealed instructions for carrying out arson attacks on Palestinian residences.

"We prefer to use firebombs with our friends so provide yourself with: a molotov cocktail, preferably a litre-and-a-half, lighter, gloves, masks, metal bar/hammer, bag to carry all those," the manual reads.

"Come to the village and there look for a home with an open door or open window without bars … Simply breaking a glass door or window ... turn on the fire bomb and throw it in.”

The highest-profile member of the group is Meir Ettinger, primarily due to his being the grandson of the notorious ultra-Zionist Rabbi Meir Kahane.

Slonim, Ettinger and another American-Israeli, Mordechai Meyer, all hold two passports and are currently being kept in administrative detention. They met with their attorneys for the first time on Wednesday night. 

Meir Kahane and his followers, who are known as Kahanists, advocated compulsory expulsion of Palestinians from Israel and the creation of a theocratic Greater Israel based on Halakah (Jewish religious legislation.)

Kahane founded the Kach party in 1971 to promote his ideas, but the organisation was banned in 1994 after one of its followers, Baruch Goldstein, massacred 29 Palestinians in the Ibrahimi Mosque (known to Jews as the Cave of the Patriarchs) in Hebron.

Though Revolt follows the Kahanist tradition, it stand out from other hardline Zionist groups by its opposition to the State of Israel, at least as it currently exists.

Their purported aim is the violent overthrow of the current Israeli state – formed as they see it by secularists – and its replacement by a Judaic kingdom, in which the Al-Aqsa Mosque would be destroyed and replaced by the Third Temple and Christian and Islamic influences driven out of the land.

"The state of Israel has many weak points, topics which you walk on the edge of a tightrope in order not to cause a disturbance,” wrote Ettinger, in a manifesto called "The Kingdom of Evil".

“What we will do is simply ignite all those barrels of explosives, all the questions and the contradictions between Judaism and democracy, between Judaism and secularism, and not be afraid of the results.”

Lawyers for Ettinger have previously stated that his detention was designed to throw a bone to an angry public and that there was nothing to link the group to the attack in Duma.

“This is a populist measure that shows the helplessness of the police after Duma and is meant to satisfy public opinion,” said Itzhak Bam, who represents Mordechai Meyer.

Israeli Defence Minister Moshe Yaalon said on Tuesday that there was "not enough evidence" to detain or prosecute the suspects in the arson attack.

Yaalon told Army Radio that the July attack in the West Bank was "clearly a Jewish attack that I am ashamed of" and said his ministry knew who was behind the killings but that they simply did not have enough evidence to take the case to trial. 

According to Israeli Haaretz on Monday, the deputy attorney general for criminal law told a Knesset committee that "extraordinary measures" were used when the three suspects were interrogated. 

“This is not the first time that a statement like this comes from the Defence Ministry, and we are sure they have known from the beginning who set fire to the house,” Nasir Dawabsha, a relative, told Middle East Eye.

“Half-an-hour after the news broke, the Israeli media declared that it was Jewish terrorism, and they knew who was involved and they investigated that. We don’t have any trust in the Israeli justice system any more – neither the courts, nor the army.”

Stay informed with MEE's newsletters

Sign up to get the latest alerts, insights and analysis, starting with Turkey Unpacked

Middle East Eye delivers independent and unrivalled coverage and analysis of the Middle East, North Africa and beyond. To learn more about republishing this content and the associated fees, please fill out this form. More about MEE can be found here.