PM: Ephraim attack 'a stain on Israeli democracy'

Netanyahu, Barak attend Hanukka ceremony at IDF base attacked by right-wing extremists last week.

By
December 20, 2011 19:44
3 minute read.
PM Netanyahu lights Hanukka candles at Efraim base

PM Netanyahu lights Hanukka candles at Efraim IDF base 311. (photo credit: Amos Ben-Gershom/GPO)

 
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Rioting by Jewish extremists at the Ephraim Brigade headquarters last week blemished Israeli democracy and the settlement enterprise, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said Tuesday as he lit a hanukkia at the site.

“Even the smallest stain tarnishes the whitest shirt,” Netanyahu said at the ceremony. “This is a stain on Israeli democracy, which is a law-abiding democracy, and also a stain on the greater part of the settler population, which is not involved in these acts.”



Netanyahu praised the settlement leaders for coming out strongly against the action, and called upon them to act together to “erase the stain.”

Netanyahu said he opted to light the first Hanukka candle at the base, along with Defense Minister Ehud Barak and Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen.

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Benny Gantz, to underscore the gravity with which the security establishment viewed the events that took place there last week.

The prime minister was briefed by commanders at the base about the incident where rioters, protesting the planned demolition of the unauthorized Ramat Gilad outpost, threw rocks at the base and at the commander of the Ephraim Brigade, Col. Ran Cahana, while others broke in and vandalized IDF property.

Netanyahu said the government approved new measures to deal with Jewish lawlessness anywhere in the territories, whether by the radical right wing or the radical left wing, which holds regular protests against the separation barrier at Bil’in. The prime minister said he expected that these steps would be implemented by all soldiers.

“If we don’t stop this, it will spread,” he said.

Barak said that Israel’s strength rested on its ability to see a common goal and overcome the tendency of Jews to quarrel with each other.

The defense minister said the attack last week was an attempt by extremists to undermine the country’s sovereignty, something that cannot be accepted.

He said the IDF and the country’s law enforcement agencies would work to ensure that with all the legitimate disagreement in the country “no one will raise a hand against an IDF soldier, officer or policeman. No one will put himself above the law or the state’s common goals.”

While Netanyahu refused last week to classify “price-tag” acts such as what happened last week at the Ephraim base as terrorism, Barak said in his mind this was “home-grown terrorism” that needed to be fought aggressively, even through the use of emergency regulations.

Earlier on Tuesday two suspected far-right activists, both aged 16, were arrested by police in the West Bank settlement of Yitzhar on suspicion of torching a Palestinian vehicle in a nearby village. The suspects, from the settlement of Beit Ayin, were questioned throughout the day and brought before the Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court.

The court extended their remand by six days.

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