Israel outlines new measures against Jewish extremists, but some see only hypocrisy
Jerusalem (AsiaNews) – Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defence Minister Moshe Ya'lon are determined to take tougher measures against Jewish extremists, who last week carried out two deadly attacks. In one, a teenager died after she was stabbed during Jerusalem’s Gay Pride on 30 July. In the second, an 18-month-old Palestinian baby was burnt to death home in Duma, near Nablus, as a result of an arson attack (pictured).
One of the measure is administrative detention, which allows the authorities to detain a suspect for long periods without charges. The procedure, which until recently was only applied to Palestinian militants, will now be used against Israelis as well.
Shira Banki, 16, was among six people stabbed at the Jerusalem march on Thursday by Yishai Schissel, an ultra-Orthodox Jew released only weeks earlier from prison where he purged a ten-year sentence for a similar attack in 2005. Schissel had announced on social media his intention of stopping this year’s Gay Pride.
By contrast, although Israel’s prime minister described as terrorist the fire that gutted a house in Duma, killing 18-month-old Ali Saad Dawabsha and injuring the other members of the Palestinian family, Israeli authorities have not made any arrest three days after the attack, this despite the fact that witnesses saw the attackers flee in the direction of the Malee Efrayim settlement.
Among Palestinians, there is a lot of scepticism that the Israeli government will act because it is seen as an ally of Jewish extremists. For years, Jewish extremists have attacked Palestinians, Israeli Arabs, private homes, churches, and mosques by imposing a "price tag", a "price to pay" for being "illegally" on a land that “belongs" to Israel.
According to the twisted messianic view of some ultra-Orthodox rabbis, removing Palestinians from "the land God gave to the Jews" justifies illegal settlements in Palestinian territories and even the killing of Palestinians, including children.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas blamed the Israeli government for the recent spate of attacks, which in his view, are the direct result of Israel’s settlement policy. At present, some 400,000 Israeli settlers live in the West Bank and more than 200,000 in East Jerusalem.
According to Palestinian sources, at least 11,000 attacks by Jewish extremists have been recorded in the past ten years. According to the Israeli human rights group Yesh Din, 85.3 per cent of Palestinian complaints against settlers are never prosecuted and only 1.9 per cent of them result in a conviction.
Several Israeli analysts wonder why a state famous for its top-notch security is unable to cope with Jewish extremists.
"Those who incite against Israel's Arab citizens should not be surprised when churches and mosques are set on fire, and when finally a baby is burned in the middle of the night," said ex-president Shimon Peres at an anti-violence rally in Tel Aviv on Saturday night.
For Uzi Baram, columnist with the Haaretz newspaper, the time has come for the Israeli government to deal with the ultra-Orthodox camp, which it has favoured over the years. It should go back to the secular and democratic ideals that gave birth to the State of Israel, and stop the "erosion of democracy and the rise of theocracy."