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Netanyahu decries attack against ‘innocent Arabs’ in Dimona

Lawmakers join PM in denouncing apparent revenge stabbing that wounded 4; Gal-on accuses right-wing MKs of inciting violence

Tamar Pileggi is a breaking news editor at The Times of Israel.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks about the security situation in Israel at a press conference from his office in Jerusalem on October 8, 2015. (screen capture: Channel 2)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks about the security situation in Israel at a press conference from his office in Jerusalem on October 8, 2015. (screen capture: Channel 2)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu “strongly condemned” the attack in Dimona on Friday in which an Israeli teen stabbed and wounded three Palestinians and a Bedouin Arab, his office said in a statement.

“Israel is a country of law and order. Those who use violence and break the law – from whatever side – will be dealt with to the fullest extent of the law,” said Netanyahu, adding that he “strongly condemns the attack against innocent Arabs.”

In the attack, a 17-year-old Jewish teen went on a stabbing spree in the southern town, in what police believe was revenge over a recent wave of Palestinian attacks against Israelis.

Knesset member Moti Yogev of the right-wing Jewish Home party also condemned the attack, urging Israelis to remain vigilant while refraining from vigilante action.

Israeli police at the scene where a Jewish man stabbed an Arab man in the southern city of Dimona on Friday, October 9, 2015. Three other Arab men were also injured in the attack. (Dimona Police Department)
Israeli police at the scene where a Jewish man stabbed an Arab man in the southern city of Dimona on Friday, October 9, 2015. Three other Arab men were also injured in the attack. (Dimona Police Department)

“Under no circumstances will we take the law into our hands to harm Arabs — only when it’s life-threatening,” Yogev said in a statement. “We will back the government and security forces to allow them to act with determination to eradicate terrorism and restore deterrence and security across the country.”

Agriculture Minister Uri Ariel of Jewish Home echoed the sentiment. “If this was indeed a revenge attack, it is a very grave incident that should not happen,” he said, and praised Israeli security forces for swiftly apprehending the assailant.

“The difficulties of recent days have been understandable, but it does not justify such acts of revenge,” Ariel said, referring to a spate of attacks that left four Israelis dead in recent days.

In a statement on the attack, Zahava Gal-on, chairwoman of the left-wing Meretz party, blamed right-wing lawmakers for a recent escalation in anti-Arab rhetoric in Israel.

“Anyone who stabs innocent people on the street is a terrorist,” Gal-On said. “This is exactly what happens when racism encounters fear, incitement, violence and a feeling that there is no responsible adult here.”

Gal-on charged that Yisrael Beytenu party chairman Avigdor Liberman and Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat were responsible for inciting to violence.

“This is what happens when the mayor of the most volatile city in Israel urges citizens to bear arms, when Avigdor Lieberman calls [on Jews] not to buy from Arabs, when the government and the police do nothing in the face of terrible racism over the past few days,” she wrote.

Amid a spate of Palestinian terror attacks, Jewish extremists staged protests and assaulted Arabs in various Israeli cities on Thursday. In the evening in Jerusalem, activists from the anti-Arab Lehava group, along with far-right fans of the Beitar Jerusalem soccer club, marched to the Old City, chanting slogans including “Death to the Arabs” and “Muhammad is dead.”

The Hebrew-language webzine Hamakom reported that throughout the march, activists asked passersby for the time in order to determine, by their accents, whether they were Arabs. In the Mahane Yehuda market and the adjacent Nahlaot neighborhood, the report said, protesters chased after Arabs. Later, they assaulted TV crews in downtown Jerusalem and the Old City.

In all, some 10 Israelis were injured in stabbing incidents on Thursday and Friday. On Wednesday, Israelis were hurt in three stabbings. Those attacks came days after two Israeli men were stabbed to death in the Old City of Jerusalem and an Israeli couple were gunned down in the West Bank in front of their four children.

Seven Palestinians have been killed in the latest surge of violence, including four who were targeted while they were carrying out attacks against Israelis.

Judah Ari Gross and Elie Leshem contributed to this report.

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