Police Arrest Right-Wing Activists, But No Clue on Arson Attack

YERUSHALAYIM -

Israeli police have taken into custody three right-wing activists, but would not say if any of them were suspected in Friday’s deadly firebombing of a Palestinian family.

Additionally, they issued an unusual appeal to the public to come forward with any information that could help apprehend the culprits in the case, indicating that the investigation had made little if any progress.

According to the Shin Bet security agency, a 23-year-old was arrested late Monday for “involvement in an extremist Jewish organization,” but Shin Bet would not say if he was involved in the recent incident.

The individual, who has been arrested several times before and banned from Yehudah and Shomron for alleged subversive activities, has denied leading any extremist movement. His lawyer, Yuval Zemer, told Army Radio that authorities arrested his client to appease an Israeli public outraged by the arson attack.

“There was no urgent need to arrest here, other than some kind of desire to show, ‘Here, we’re doing something, here, we’re arresting,’” said Zemer. “Of course, what is better than the number one most wanted target?”

On Tuesday night, Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon signed a decree allowing the detention of another far-right operative for up to six months.

Ya’alon’s spokesperson cited “involvement in violent activities and terrorist attacks that occurred recently, and his role as part of a Jewish terrorist group,” as the reason for the order.

A third right-wing activist was also arrested on Tuesday.

At a special Knesset session called to discuss the inflamed state of the nation, Opposition MKs accused the government of being responsible for encouraging violence against Palestinians and others.

MK Tzipi Livni (Zionist Camp) said that the right wing could not escape blame, claiming it is being persecuted by the left.

“The self-victimization cannot replace a reckoning over what is going on in Yehudah and Shomron, while there is silent knowledge and encouragement of lawbreaking, by representatives of the government as well…”

Interior Security Minister Gilad Erdan (Likud), while acknowledging that the government, including “the political camp to which I belong also has to look for amelioration and improvement. To make sure that people like this do not exist among us,” he repudiated the attempt on the part of some to smear the entire right wing.

“To say that this is not a minority, and to launch a hunting expedition against the other camp is not the way to bring about the amelioration,” he said. “I heard many statements here that ignore reality.

Erdan then addressed the double standard on the left: “You, who time after time express your complacency about firebombs that are thrown at [Jews in Yehudah and Shomron] — when did any one of you demand the arrest of those who throw firebombs in eastern Yerushalayim or on Highway 443, and who carry out such attacks daily throughout Israel?”

“MK Frej,” he asked Issawi Frej of Meretz, “when you visited [PA head] Abu Mazen, did you ask Abu Mazen why he pays money to terrorists who were proven to have murdered entire families?”