Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Tuesday condemned last Thursday’s violent attack on Arab youths allegedly perpetrated by Jewish teens in downtown Jerusalem. At the same time, he praised Israel as “unique” among Middle Eastern states because it opposes racism.
“In the State of Israel we aren’t willing to tolerate racism and we aren’t willing to tolerate the combination of racism and violence,” Netanyahu said. “This is something that we cannot accept — neither as Jews nor as Israelis. This is not our way; this is opposed to our ways; and we condemn it in word and deed. We will quickly bring to justice those responsible for this reprehensible incident.”
On Thursday, a group of Jewish teenagers attacked Palestinians youths in the capital’s Zion Square, injuring three lightly and one severely, while dozens of bystanders reportedly watched the events unfold without intervening. East Jerusalem resident Jamal Julani, 17, nearly died after the attack, according to Jerusalem Police. Police called the incident a “lynch” and an “extremely severe crime.” Vice Prime Minister Moshe Ya’alon condemned the event on Sunday, calling it an act of “terror that goes against Jewish values and morals and displays an educational and moral failure.”
The prime minister on Tuesday said he spoke to the director-general of the Hadassah Medical Center in Jerusalem, Prof. Ehud Kokia, to inquire about Julani’s health.
“We say as clearly as possible: The State of Israel is a democratic and enlightened state in which, when we come across acts such as these, the entire state and all of its leaders come out together against such phenomena, and we will continue to do so,” Netanyahu said. “This is what makes us unique in the environment around us and this will continue to make us unique. I hope that one day our environment will change as well. But we will be persistent in our complete opposition to racism and violence.”
President Shimon Peres said Tuesday he was “ashamed” at the attack, and that Israeli children needed to be educated so that these kinds of incidents did not recur. Young people needed to learn to live in peace with each other, he said. He said Israel would do everything to bring the perpetrators to justice.