After a recent wave of radical Jewish terrorism that claimed lives of both Israeli and Palestinian children alike, Israel’s security cabinet has agreed to employ the same heavy-handed measures against Israeli suspects as the state uses against Palestinians in the West Bank.
“We recently witnessed two abhorrent crimes,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told his cabinet, referring to the stabbing attack in Jerusalem and the arson that resulted in a toddler’s death. “I have instructed security and law-enforcement officials to use all legal means at their disposal to apprehend the murderers and deal with the stabber and the arsonists to the fullest extent of the law.”
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The decision came after thousands of citizens held anti-violence rallies across the country, protesting the attacks by Israeli assailants against Palestinians and the LGBT community. 16-year-old Shira Banki, stabbed during the pride parade in Jerusalem, succumbed to her wounds hours before the new measures were approved.
“We are determined to vigorously fight manifestations of hate, fanaticism and terrorism from whatever side,” Netanyahu added. “Our policy toward these crimes is zero tolerance.”
The new recommendations include extending “administrative detention”– a practice commonly applied to Palestinian suspects and abhorred internationally – to Israeli extremists. Authorities will be allowed to jail suspects for up to six months, or even a year, without any charge. The detentions will be approved by Israel’s attorney general.
There are over 5,000 Palestinians reportedly being held in administrative detention as of now, however, there are no Israelis, according to the Israeli human rights group B’Tselem.
“To the best of my knowledge, there have been no instances of Israelis being held in administrative detention in recent years,” explained the organization’s spokeswoman Sarit Michaeli.
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Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon also spoke out against Jewish extremist attacks, adding he felt ashamed that the violence had come “from my own people.”
Meanwhile, Israeli President Reuven Rivlin has been threatened on social media for condemning the West Bank arson, leading his office to file a complaint with the police. Rivlin was called a “terrorist” and “traitor” on his Facebook page in Hebrew.
Along with administrative detentions, the security cabinet also instructed members of parliament to advance the “anti-terror bill” as it should also be applied to Jewish extremists. A committee chaired by the country’s defense minister will reportedly take additional measures to combat hate crimes and radical terrorist attacks.
On the other hand, the security forces are braced for Arab violence in the coming days since Palestinian leaders seem wary of these measures.
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said condemnations were not enough and that steps must be taken against the terrorists, claiming as long as he is alive, he will make sure Israelis are not attacked.
While it’s a good thing that Israel finally acknowledged domestic extremism and deemed hate crimes as acts of terrorism, the question remains if these measures are enough after years of turning a blind eye toward these issues.