Shin Bet holding ‘gentle’ talks with far-rightists to head off revenge attacks
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Shin Bet holding ‘gentle’ talks with far-rightists to head off revenge attacks

Defense official says not especially concerned about Jewish extremists retaliating following terror attacks that killed Raziel Shevach and Itamar Ben-Gal

Jacob Magid is the settlements correspondent for The Times of Israel.

Illustrative: Youth aligned with the settler movement burning tires in Jerusalem in 2012 to protest an outpost demolition. (Abir Sultan/ Flash90)
Illustrative: Youth aligned with the settler movement burning tires in Jerusalem in 2012 to protest an outpost demolition. (Abir Sultan/ Flash90)

In an effort to calm growing tensions, the Shin Bet security agency is initiating “gentle conversations” with far-right activists who have been demanding a harsher military response to the Palestinian terror attacks that left two West Bank rabbis dead within the span of a month.

A defense official said that despite the recent uptick in Palestinian violence, and Israeli calls for “revenge,” there was no particular concern among the defense establishment that rogue settler attacks may soon follow.

“However, we’re holding gentle conversations with activists in an attempt to lower the flames and calm tensions,” the official told The Times of Israel, adding that such dialogue is being held in consultation with social services.

“Now is not the time for ‘price-tag’ attacks,” he said, referring to offenses carried out by Jewish extremists in retaliation for actions and policies against the settlement enterprise.

“We are reminding them not to take the law into their own hands,” the official added.

A Palestinian receives medical treatment by IDF soldiers after being hit in the head with a stone thrown by settlers near the entrance to Nablus on February 5, 2018. (courtesy)

Over a dozen far-right activists have been arrested during protests held throughout the West Bank following the Monday murder of Itamar Ben-Gal.

The demonstrators have been blocking roads to Palestinian traffic near Nablus and Ramallah, demanding that the army re-institute checkpoints at the entrance to those cities.

At one such demonstration on Tuesday, protesters hurled rocks at Palestinian cars, moderately injuring one passenger.

Some critics have accused Israeli security agencies of handling far-right extremists with kid gloves compared to how they treat Palestinians.

Tzvi Succot, who heads the far-right Otzma Yehudit organization that has been organizing many of these demonstrations, was among those detained on Monday, hours after Ben-Gal’s murder.

He refuted the defense officials’ claim that any “gentle conversations” had been held with the activists. “They called me a few weeks ago, but there definitely have not been ‘conversations,'” Succot said, adding that he had received a restraining order, temporarily banning him from the West Bank, following his arrest.

At the funeral for Raziel Shevach last month, dozens of mourners interrupted Education Minister Naftali Bennett’s eulogy with calls for “revenge.”

The Jewish Home party leader attempted to calm the crowd by saying that “the only revenge is to keep building.”

Revenge attacks have ranged from graffiti and rock throwings to deadly incidents, such as the killing of East Jerusalem teen Muhammed Abu Khdeir in 2014 in retaliation for the killing of three Israeli teens.

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