Almost 100 alleged far-right Orthodox Jewish extremists are currently either being questioned by the Shin Bet security service, facing legal action, in jail, or under restriction orders, according to a list maintained by a group of their supporters on Facebook.
The list features on a Facebook page called “We all support the arrestees of Zion,” which solicits donations on their behalf.
The list, which gives the suspects’ first names but not their surnames, features a prayer on their behalf, urging that they be quickly set free and enabled to “reign.”
Israeli security chiefs have warned that dozens of far-right Orthodox extremists — allegedly behind a series of hate crimes including the murder of a Palestinian family who were firebombed in their home in Duma in July — are seeking to destroy the State of Israel and replace it with a religious monarchy.
Such concerns have come to a head since a July firebomb attack on a Palestinian home in the West Bank, which killed 18-month-old Ali Dawabsha, and injured his parents Rihat and Saad so badly that they later died of their wounds.
At a wedding in Jerusalem earlier this month, dozens of youths, said to be linked to several suspects in the Duma murders, were filmed singing and dancing in praise of the Duma attack, stabbing and setting fire to a photograph of Ali Dawabsha, demanding further “revenge,” and brandishing machine-guns, knives and a petrol bomb.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has expressed horror at the wedding video, and backed the Shin Bet’s investigations. “The shocking images broadcast tonight show the true face of a group that constitutes a threat to Israeli society and Israel’s security,” said Netanyahu on Wednesday. “We will not accept people who violate the state’s laws and do not see themselves as bound by them.”
The head of the right-wing religious Jewish Home party, Naftali Bennett also warned of the danger posed by the extremists, as underlined by the Duma killings. “There are a few dozen people whose goal is not murder; murder is just their means to undermine the foundations of the state,” he said.
The IDF is investigating soldiers alleged to have been among the revelers at the wedding, and some 30 participants at the wedding are to be summoned for questioning by the security authorities in the next few days.
Avi Dichter, a former head of the Shin Bet, said Friday that an attack earlier this week on a Palestinian home in Ramallah could have produced a similar fatal result.
And Carmi Gillon, who headed the security agency when Yitzhak Rabin was assassinated by Jewish extremist Yigal Amir in 1995, said that the threat posed to Israel by a terrorist “underground” of religious far-right extremists had reached unprecedented levels, worse even than in the lead-up to Rabin’s murder. Gillon warned of a terrorist underground “that aims to destroy the Jewish, democratic state of Israel.”
Lawyers for several suspects currently being questioned over the Duma killings have alleged that the Shin Bet tortured them. Uri Ariel, a minister from Bennett’s Jewish Home party, last week urged the attorney general to investigate the Shin Bet’s handling of the suspects, protesting the “chilling” accounts of torture.
However, the security service, in a highly unusual statement, said it had been forced to treat the suspects as “ticking bombs” who might have information on further imminent attacks. “The purpose of the investigation underway at this time is to uncover an [underground] organization and disrupt future terror attacks. Therefore, and in coordination with the judicial system, the [suspected terror] organization is being investigated according to professional and legal standards that are appropriate to the disruption of organizations that may carry out severe terror attacks in the future,” the Shin Bet said. “During the interrogations [of the Jewish terror suspects], measures were taken that fit this end.”
The statement went on to deny the claims by right-wing extremists, including attorneys for the suspects, that they were electrocuted, sexually assaulted and beaten while in custody.
A Channel 2 TV report Friday said that security has been stepped up for leading Israeli state prosecution figures, including Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein. It said the use of physical pressure on the Duma suspects had been approved by Weinstein and the Israeli cabinet.