"Evyatar Slonim was born in Israel and went to schools in the northern part of the occupied West Bank which Jewish residents call Samaria or the Shomron - home to 29 illegally-built Israeli settlements. According to the family member, '[Evyatar] has pursued higher Torah learning which is very common for religious young men in Israel. In addition, he studies equine therapy (horse riding therapy), in which he has a diploma. He completed his qualifications with the highest accolades from his teachers.'
"Slonim's parents see their son once a fortnight for 30 minutes, speaking to him through a perspex barrier via telephones inside Eshel Prison. 'Regardless of how long they hold him under these horrendous conditions and how much pressure they place him under it will be of no benefit in solving the crime of Duma or any other crime that they try to associate with him as Evyatar is innocent,' the family member says. 'We are absolutely horrified that in a democratic country [Evyatar] has been imprisoned without a trial.' When I asked how Slonim came to be under surveillance by the Shin Bet, his family member replied: 'We wonder the same ourselves. I am concerned that something sinister could be going on and we may be looking at some sort of Agent X situation,' the family member said, referring to the case of another dual Australian-Israeli citizen, Ben Zygier. Zygier, also known as Prisoner X, killed himself while in solitary confinement in Israel in 2010. He was believed to have been an operative for Israel's national intelligence agency, Mossad.
"Shlomo Fischer of the Jerusalem-based Jewish People Policy Institute is an expert on radical Jewish extremism. He says violence like that committed against the Dawabshe family stems from the perpetrators' belief that they are acting on the 'voice of God.' Their goals are to 'create chaos and undermine the ability of the government to rule and set up a revolutionary redemptive state. They want to replace the current State of Israel with something else - their main animosity, just like al-Qaeda directing their animosity to the non-jihadist Muslim regimes, is against the government of Israel. They are very aware of the fact that they will be treated with kid gloves because they are Jewish - that has been the precedent until now.'
"As Ettinger wrote on his blog: 'The closer we bring the conflict the better it will be for the people of Israel and the land of Israel. Everyone will find many ways to wake people up and act and explain why the land should be left exclusively for Jews.' The concept of redemption in Judaism - the liberation of Jews from exile for the end of days - is central to the beliefs of the Hilltop Youth, says Hagit Ofran, the director of the Israeli NGO Peace Now's Settlement Watch project. The national-religious right in Israel sees the state's existence as an integral part of redemption, but to the Hilltop Youth the Sharon government's 2005 'disengagement' from the Gaza Strip and the northern West Bank - involving the removal of thousands of settlers - was a huge blow. 'When the disengagement happened, it was as if the state turned its back on the redemption process,' Ofran says. 'Some or most of the settlers said 'OK, we need to work harder on the State of Israel... to continue the fight.' [But] the Hilltop Youth said... 'the redemption will happen even if the State of Israel is not here'.'
"This violent group numbers only in the hundreds, no more than 1,000, says Ofran, but they account for much of the violence perpetrated against Palestinians in the West Bank. 'The settlements are based on discrimination - the fact that you raise children in a place where you as an Israeli Jew have rights and Palestinians do not have rights and are instead living under military law, this raises people to believe they are more than the others'."
Next post: Part 4