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Police minister: Settler attack on activists is ‘organized action of a terror group’

Barlev says that in West Bank attack that injured 6 activists, perpetrators are just the ‘tip of the iceberg’; confirms Shin Bet involved in investigation

A firefighter douses the flames in an Israeli car after it was allegedly set on fire by Jewish extremists in the West Bank near the outpost of Givat Ronen on January 21, 2022. (Courtesy: Yesh Din)
A firefighter douses the flames in an Israeli car after it was allegedly set on fire by Jewish extremists in the West Bank near the outpost of Givat Ronen on January 21, 2022. (Courtesy: Yesh Din)

Police Minister Omer Barlev on Sunday denounced the attack by Jewish extremists on Palestinians and Israeli activists in the northern West Bank last week, saying it was “the organized action of a terror group.”

Footage from the Friday incident in the Palestinian village of Burin showed a group of Jewish extremists, apparently from the Givat Ronen illegal outpost, attacking left-wing activists and Palestinians with clubs and stones, wounding at least six people and burning a car.

“This is the organized action of a terrorist organization,” Barlev told the Kan public broadcaster.

The violence was carried out “in my view by a terror group that acts together and harmed Israeli citizens who came to demonstrate in the area,” he said, adding that the attack appeared to have been organized in advance.

“It is the tip of the iceberg of a terror organization,” he said.

He confirmed media reports that a police investigation was being assisted by the Shin Bet security service, the country’s internal intelligence agency.

Barlev defended the lack of arrests of perpetrators from Friday’s attack, as well as at similar recent clashes, saying it takes time before the military is called to incidents, followed by a further delay until police are alerted, and by then “the terrorists are no longer there and have disappeared.”

Public Security Minister Omer Barlev in Nazareth, November 9, 2021 (Michael Giladi/Flash90)

Speaking to the Radio 103FM station Barlev called the incident “another serious leap forward in the terror carried out by extremist settlers.”

But, he said it is quite possible that some of those involved are not even settlers but “others who arrive from other places.”

The violence drew denunciations from across the political spectrum, with several coalition lawmakers calling for the demolition of the outpost from where the assailants allegedly came.

Israeli security officials have warned that violence by Jewish extremists in the West Bank has spiked in recent months. Shin Bet officials told The Times of Israel in late December that Jewish extremist violence had increased by 50 percent over the past year.

Nonetheless, the internal political debate over the phenomenon has been divisive. Right-wing Israeli politicians have resisted referring to these attacks as “settler violence,” charging that such characterization is an attempt to besmirch all Jews living in the West Bank.

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