Opposition Knesset Member Yair Lapid said Thursday that Jewish terrorism is a much larger problem than previously thought and that the incitement behind it has political support in Israel.
In a letter to the head of the Shin Bet security service, Yoram Cohen, and Israel Police chief Roni Alsheich, Lapid, who leads the Yesh Atid party, called for more efforts to defeat the problem, the Hebrew-language Ynet news site reported on Thursday.
“The known and unpublished material that has been revealed in recent weeks suggests that the circles of violence and incitement of Jewish terror can no longer be attributed to just a few dozen ‘isolated’ youths living in specific settlement places,” he wrote. “Surrounding these young people are wider circles of support — ideological, political, and likely also operational.
“It is clear today that it is impossible to deal with Jewish terror without broader police and Shin Bet treatment of the incitement that leads to it,” he continued, while noting that security forces are “stretched to the limit of their ability after the 100 days of the ‘knifing intifada'” — a reference to the recent three months of near-daily Palestinian attacks, mostly stabbings.
Speaking of the Jewish extremists, he noted that “we are no longer talking about an insignificant phenomenon, but a direct threat to Israeli sovereignty.
“It is time for the sovereign to act like a sovereign — firmly, with strength, on a wide scale and without hesitation. You should act against these phenomena with the full operational ability of your organizations.”
Lapid’s letter came amid an uproar over a video showing far-right wing Israeli extremists at a wedding dancing in celebration of the murder of Palestinians.
The video, aired by Channel 10 on Wednesday, drew widespread condemnation, though some right-wing lawmakers accused security officials of leaking the video to justify the rough treatment of Jewish extremists being interrogated over the killing of three members of a Palestinian family in July.
The clip shows dozens of young Israeli right-wing extremists, said to be linked to the suspected Jewish perpetrators of the Dawabsha family murder, celebrating the killing at a Jerusalem wedding three weeks ago.
Revelers in the video are seen waving knives, rifles, pistols and a Molotov cocktail. Amid the festivities, a photo of baby Ali Dawabsha, who was burned to death along with his parents in the July 31 firebombing in the West Bank village of Duma, is shown being repeatedly stabbed.
Police said they were opening an investigation into the video, which drew the ire of both opposition leader Isaac Herzog and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who condemned the images and the elements behind them. Netanyahu called the video “shocking,” while Herzog termed the revelers “lowlifes.”
During an interview with Ynet on Thursday, Lapid urged more law enforcement against Jewish terror and the culture that promotes it, which he said can no longer be dismissed as the realm of a marginal, insignificant, and isolated group.
“We need to start to act against the incitement, against the background from which it grows, to make arrests, to investigate, to broaden the quality of intelligence,” he said. “For a long time there was a frame of mind that it is just a very small isolated group, and we now see that that isn’t the case. It didn’t grow in a vacuum.
“We need to investigate the incitement, to apply the law to prevent incitement — and if the law needs to be changed, then we will help.
“The law for Jewish terror is the same as the law for Arab terror. And they both threaten Israeli sovereignty.”
Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.