Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday defended religious Zionism from mounting criticism, saying right-wing extremists allegedly behind the Duma terror attack, and those filmed celebrating the murder of the Palestinian family in a recently broadcast video, are fringe radicals who don’t represent the majority.
Netanyahu had on Wednesday denounced a “shocking” video clip showing far-right extremists celebrating the killings of the Dawabsha family in a July firebombing attack on their home, joining dozens of other politicians and public figures coming out against the taped incident.
He renewed his criticism of religious right-wing radicals, however, at Sunday’s cabinet meeting, saying those filmed were “extreme and marginal, and certainly don’t represent religious Zionism.”
He said he wanted to emphasize that religious nationalist Jews were dedicated supporters of the state and contributed to its security by serving in the IDF and its elite units.
Politicians from both sides of the aisle strongly condemned the clip, aired Wednesday by Channel 10, which shows revelers at the Jerusalem celebration waving knives, rifles, pistols and a Molotov cocktail.
Amid the festivities in the video, a photo of baby Ali Dawabsha, who was burned to death in the Duma attack, is shown being repeatedly stabbed with knives by dancers at the wedding.
“The shocking images broadcast tonight show the true face of a group that constitutes a threat to Israeli society and Israel’s security,” Netanyahu said Wednesday. “We will not accept people who violate the state’s laws and do not see themselves as bound by them.”
Netanyahu on Sunday stepped up his defense of Israel’s internal security service, which came under fire from right-wing activists who accused it of torturing and sexually abusing detained suspects in the firebombing.
“The Shin Bet is doing very important work” and “operates according to the law under legal supervision, and acts in accordance with the government’s policy of fighting all brands of terrorism,” Netanyahu said.
An unspecified number of Jewish detainees are suspected in the firebombing of the home of the Dawabsha family in the northern West Bank village of Duma, killing 18-month-old Ali Saad on site. Parents Saad and Riham died of their injuries in the hospital. Only five-year-old Ahmed, now in rehab, survived the blaze.
“We are unwilling to tolerate terrorism or murder by either side,” he said.
Turning his criticism to the Palestinians, Netanyahu charged that “Arab terrorism that attacks us relentlessly, and which we are fighting tirelessly — this terrorism is on a much larger scale [and] there’s no comparison.”
Netanyahu said another difference between Jewish and Palestinian terrorism was that “while here in the government and public, every official and leader came out against Jewish terrorism… there they praise [terrorism].”