The Israeli government authorized security officials to use administrative detention and all other appropriate means to track down and hold suspects in Friday’s murder of Palestinian infant Ali Saad Dawabsha.
At an emergency meeting Sunday evening, ministers approved the use of “all means necessary” to catch the killers, alleged to be Jewish terrorists, who firebombed the Dawabsha home in the early hours of Friday morning, burning it down, killing Ali, and leaving his parents and brother fighting for their lives.
Ministers also agreed to expedite legislation designed to counter Jewish terrorism, according to a statement from the Prime Minister’s Office.
A ministerial committee including Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon, Internal Security Minister Gilad Erdan and Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked was established to oversee other requirements to ensure more effective efforts to quell the extremism.
Security officials quoted on Israel’s Channel 2 news warned that a group of Jewish extremists, sometimes referred to as “Hilltop youth,” were responsible for a series of hate-crime attacks in recent years, and that these “rebels” and “anarchists” are bent on undermining the rule of law in Israel.
The officials said there had been a fall in the number of their attacks of late, but that the attacks themselves were becoming increasingly grave.
The officials said they were not being hampered by a lack of intelligence as much as by a lack of legal tools to grapple with Jewish suspects. Of five suspects in a June arson attack at the Church of the Multiplication of the Loaves and Fishes, at Tabgha on the Sea of Galilee, they said, three had been indicted, but they did not have the legal tools necessary to hold the other two in detention.
Other security insiders told The Times of Israel Sunday, however, that the Shin Bet security service did have difficulty obtaining intelligence about Jewish extremist groupings. A Channel 2 report on Friday said that investigations into 15 arson attacks on Palestinian targets since 2008 had yielded no convictions.
Israel’s President Reuven Rivlin warned in the wake of Friday’s attack that Israel had been “lax” in confronting Jewish terrorism. At separate rallies on Saturday night, both he and former president Shimon Peres warned that Israel was being consumed by “flames” of hatred. They referred, too, to a stabbing attack on the Jerusalem Gay Pride Parade on Thursday, in which six people were injured. The assailant in that attack was an ultra-Orthodox man, Yishai Schlissel, who had attacked the same parade in 2005 and only recently been freed from jail. One of the victims, 16-year-old Shira Banki, died of her wounds Sunday.
A senior defense official told Israel Radio earlier Sunday that dealing with Jewish terror suspects necessitated using the same methods implemented against Palestinian terror suspects.
The official noted that the perpetrators of Friday’s firebomb attack in the West Bank village of Duma had been sophisticated in their actions — avoiding carrying mobile phones on their person — which could have been used to identify them — and leaving no tracks when they escaped the scene.
Israeli security sources said Saturday that the two assailants had fled on foot in the direction of east Shiloh, a settlement area nearby. A Channel 2 report said they were suspected of coming from the area of the Esh Kodesh settlement outpost, but not from the outpost itself. A gag order has been placed on the investigation.
Administrative detention — incarceration without trial — is considered a harsh and highly controversial method, but is increasingly used by world governments to combat the threat of terror, when there is not enough evidence against a suspect to justify a criminal trial. Administrative detention is temporary in nature, but may be renewed repeatedly by the defense minister.
Defense Minister Ya’alon on Friday called the firebombing attack, which killed 18-month-old Ali Saad Dawabsha and seriously injured his parents and 4-year-old brother, a “serious terror attack.
“The arson and the murder of the Palestinian baby Ali Dawabsha is a serious terror attack that cannot be tolerated, and we condemn it outright,” said Ya’alon. “We will chase down the murderers until they are caught.”
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Friday held briefings with top security officials on the deadly firebomb attack, ordering that the Palestinian Authority be updated on Israeli efforts to hunt down the killers.
The prime minister condemned the attack and urged the swift capture of the perpetrators. Netanyahu called the attack a “horrific, heinous” crime that is “a terror attack in every respect.”
The PA said that it held the Israeli government responsible for the attack in Duma.
Two homes in the Palestinian village of Duma, south of Nablus, were set alight, and the Hebrew words “Revenge” and “Long live the king messiah” were spray-painted on their walls, alongside a Star of David.
Marissa Newman contributed to this report.
- Israel & the Region
- Israel Inside
- Benjamin Netanyahu
- IDF Israel Defense Forces
- West Bank
- Moshe Ya'alon
- Yoram Cohen
- Jewish terrorism
- Duma village
- Shira Banki
- Shin Bet
- Ali Saad Dawabsha
- Esh Kodesh
- Hilltop youth
- Church of the Multiplication of the Loaves and Fishes
- Jerusalem Pride Parade
- price tag attacks
- PA Palestinian Authority