Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman on Friday rebuked the European Union for its frequent condemnations of Israel’s counterterrorism efforts, as Belgium, France, and Germany launched a crackdown on radical Islamists.
Two people were killed and one was wounded during a raid in eastern Belgium on Thursday night, Paris police rounded up a dozen terror suspects, and Germany detained two Turkish nationals.
In a statement on Friday, Liberman wrote: “I wonder if the EU will issue a condemnation to the governments of Belgium and France for the use of excessive force and call on them to negotiate with terrorists and resolve the issues around the negotiation table… interesting.”
The foreign minister was referencing the frequent denunciations and calls for restraint from the 28-country bloc in response to Israeli operations, and repeated calls to reinstate peace talks with the Palestinians.
Police arrested several Islamist suspects in anti-terror raids across Europe on Friday as a deadly shootout with militants in Belgium and the aftermath of the Paris attacks kept the continent on alert.
Belgium beefed up security a day after police killed two suspected jihadists in the eastern town of Verviers near the German border, foiling what police called “imminent” attacks by a cell that had recently returned from Syria.
Belgian police arrested 13 people during a dozen raids overnight, smashing a plot to kill police officers “in public roads and in police stations,” prosecutors said Friday.
“The group was on the verge of carrying out terrorist attacks to kill police officers on public roads and in police stations,” spokesman Eric Van der Sijpt told a news conference.
French police detained 12 people overnight in the suburbs of Paris in connection with last week’s attacks on the Charlie Hebdo satirical magazine, a Jewish supermarket and a policewoman, in which 17 people were killed.
The nine men and three women arrested in France overnight were to be questioned about “possible logistic support” they may have given to the Paris gunmen — Islamist brothers Said and Cherif Kouachi and Amedy Coulibaly — in particular weapons and vehicles, the source said.
Hundreds of German police meanwhile raided alleged Islamist sites in Berlin early on Friday, arresting two men suspected of being part of a group planning to carry out an attack in Syria, police said.
There was no immediate link between the raids, but they highlighted fears about young Europeans traveling to fight a holy war with the Islamic State and other extremist groups in the Middle East, and then returning to launch attacks on Western targets.
Prime Minister Charles Michel raised Belgium’s terror alert to its second-highest level following the militant gun battle, which was followed by around a dozen raids in Brussels and its suburbs.
Jewish schools in Brussels, the port city of Antwerp, and in Amsterdam in the Netherlands closed Friday due to fears of further trouble.