Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu armed security forces and police with several
new legal tools on Wednesday designed to enable them to stamp out radical
The new measures included the immediate issuing of
administrative arrest warrants for suspects, trying them in military courts in
place of the civilian justice system, and increasing the number of restraining
orders banning suspects from flash points in the West Bank and
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The steps were put forward by Public Security Minister Yitzhak
Ahronovitch and Justicer Minister Yaakov Ne'eman, after they met with
representatives from the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency), police, prosecutors,
and the army. The ministers also called for greater resources to be made
available for investigations.
The Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency)
joined several police investigations into far-right arson and vandalism attacks
across the country, police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld told The Jerusalem Post on
The agency's increased involvement underlines growing concerns
over the lack of intelligence which has so far prevented law enforcement from
moving to stop the succession of attacks before they occur.
"The Shin Bet
is working with local and national police districts on the investigations.
Coordination between police and the Shin Bet will continue to expand in the
coming days," Rosenfeld said.
Despite the sweeping changes, Netanyahu
rejected a call by the ministers to categorize far-right elements as terrorist
"Anyone who raises a hand on IDF soldiers or police
officers will be severely punished," Netanyahu said. The prime minister called
for far-right rioters to be treated by security forces in the same manner as
Palestinian rioters and anarchists in the West Bank village of Bi'lin, the scene
of weekly riots.
He added that the number of far-right suspects is small,
and that they did not represent the majority of settlers in the West Bank "who
are loyal to the state and its laws." Earlier on Wednesday, Defense Minister
Ehud Barak backed calls to label the suspects as terrorists. "As far as their
[ultra nationalists'] behavior is concerned, there is no doubt that we are
talking about terrorists," he told Army Radio.
MK Uri Ariel (National
Union) criticized the idea, saying that the "hilltop youth" are not a structured
organization that can be prosecuted.
"Any attempt to define an amorphous
group as a terrorist organization will lead to repeated and continuous
harassment of innocent residents of Judea and Samaria," he said.
advised the public security minister to enforce existing laws instead of
"seeking out headlines with unrealistic plans."