Israel must fight anti-Arab hate crimes “with an iron fist,” Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon said Monday at a memorial day ceremony for fallen soldiers and those killed in attacks.
Speaking at a military cemetery in Tel Aviv, Ya’alon said Israel must fight xenophobia and racism, in remarks referring to the growing wave of so-called “price tag” hate crimes by Jewish extremists against Arab Israelis and Palestinians.
“There is a lot of work ahead of us: we must strive to be a state… that fights to the end against racism, against violence and against xenophobia,” the minister said.
“A state that must fight with an iron first against the terror which is wrongly called ‘price tag’ — an ugly phenomenon which has no connection to Jewish values and morals, and whose aim is to harm Arabs only because they are Arabs,” Ya’alon said in remarks relayed by his office.
Earlier, police announced the arrest of seven Jewish minors on suspicion of involvement in racist acts and vandalism.
Israel was on Monday marking Memorial Day, which began at sundown on Sunday with sirens sounding and with a formal ceremony at the Western Wall.
Sirens wailed again at 11 a.m. on Monday as people observed two minutes’ silence in memory of the 26,169 soldiers and civilians killed in wars and terror attacks.
A state ceremony to remember the fallen soldiers was held at Jerusalem’s Mount Herzl cemetery on Monday morning, with another official memorial for attack victims during the afternoon.
The anniversary is held every year on the eve of Independence Day, which begins at sundown and this year marks 66 years since Israel’s establishment in May 1948.
“The day preceding this celebration is devoted to the memory of those who gave their lives for the achievement of the country’s independence and its continued existence,” the Foreign Ministry’s website says.
“This proximity is intended to remind people of the heavy price paid for independence.”