Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak condemned violence by right-wing extremists on Tuesday, vowing to use all means to eradicate the phenomenon.
Speaking at a Hanukkah ceremony at the Efraim Regional Brigade’s base near the West Bank city of Qalqilya – that was attacked by some 50 extremists a week ago – Netanyahu likened the incident to a stain on a white shirt. “If you take the whitest shirt and put one stain on it, the entire shirt will look stained. This is a stain on all of Israel and on a population of settlers that are not part of this phenomenon.” Netanyahu added that “this stain must be erased.”
Barak told reporters that he thought the incidents should be labeled as terrorism, but that “the legal definition is less important than the actions that need to be taken.” He said that these steps include emergency legislation and harsher punishments.
Last week, Netanyahu approved a series of steps that would crack down on Jewish extremists responsible for recent violent attacks on IDF soldiers and other targets, but rejected a recommendation to label them a “terror group.”
Netanyahu also gave IDF soldiers the authority to carry out arrests in the West Bank and to increase the number of activists from the extreme right that could be removed from the West Bank.
In the attack on the Efraim base last Tuesday, right-wing activists threw stones at region’s brigade commander and his deputy after forcefully opening the door to their jeep. The brigade commander was lightly wounded after a stone hit his head.
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In addition to the attack on the IDF base, right-wing activists blocked a main West Bank road and threw stones at passing Palestinian vehicles and IDF soldiers in the area.