Gov't to address ‘price-tag’ after violence at IDF base

Netanyahu: There is no such thing as "ideological crime."

Price tag offenders 311 (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)
Price tag offenders 311
(photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)
As a result of Monday’s and Tuesday’s “price-tag” actions in the Jordan Valley and against the IDF, the government will significantly beef up intelligence efforts among right-wing extremists and increase the number of people to be barred from the West Bank.
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu convened an urgent meeting of top IDF, police, Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) and justice officials after the attack Tuesday morning on an IDF base in Samaria, to develop a plan to deal with these types of actions.
On Monday evening, a group of about 30 people allegedly broke into a closed military zone on the Jordanian border, occupying an old building and attempting to establish a settlement outpost.
Later that night, 17 of the activists were arrested, including three minors.
On Tuesday morning, 50 activists allegedly entered an IDF base in the West Bank, hurled rocks at brigade commander Col. Ran Cahana, punctured tires of military vehicles and burned tires.
One was arrested on suspicion of obstructing the entrance to the base with stones. Such incidents have been dubbed “price-tag” attacks because they are carried out in response to government actions against illegal settlement outposts.
IDF and police officials briefed those at the meeting and spoke of an intelligence failure that had enabled the extremists to breach the security fence with Jordan. As a result, teams are to be established to provide better intelligence about future actions.
In addition, it was agreed that the number of people barred from the territories would be increased.
In September, OC Central Command Maj.-Gen. Avi Mizrahi issued orders against 13 settlers, banning them from entering the West Bank.
Such orders are issued when the IDF and Shin Bet obtain intelligence information regarding a suspect but the information is not enough to press charges in court. This number is now expected to rise to 60.
In addition, Justice Ministry officials are expected to draw up directives that will characterize price-tag attacks as terrorism, giving the authorities more leeway in going after suspects. They will also issue directives to the courts not to be lenient with those convicted of these attacks.
Netanyahu spoke forcefully against the events, at a Jerusalem speech to a National Defense College alumni event Tuesday evening – the third time during the day that he went on record about the occurrences, and an obvious effort to signal the gravity with which he viewed them.
“We need to stop bad things when they are small, and this is small and we will stop it now,” he said.
“Nobody has any justification or excuse for not obeying the law.”
Netanyahu stressed in his comments that those involved were a very small minority and did not represent the vast majority of Jews living beyond the Green Line.
The Prime Minister’s Office issued a statement first thing in the morning, saying that Netanyahu directed the security forces to act aggressively against anyone attacking IDF soldiers. He said the incident deserved complete condemnation, and that IDF forces needed to focus on defending the country’s citizens, and not dealing with this type of “infuriating lawlessness.”
A few hours later, at a memorial ceremony in the Knesset for former speaker Dov Shilansky, Netanyahu said there was a small group in the country that talked about “ideological crime.”
“There is no ideological crime,” Netanyahu said.
“There is only crime. No one has the right to break the law, or to raise his hand against an IDF soldier or policeman. The law is the foundation of democracy.”
Netanyahu said those faithful to the Land of Israel, inside the settlements and outside of them, understood that principle, and that he would not tolerate the type of lawlessness evident over the last two days.
And then again, at a speech in the Knesset plenum marking 50 years since the Eichmann trial, Netanyahu reiterated these sentiments, saying that being “faithful to the Land of Israel” did not cancel out loyalty to the state and its laws. He said that the law must be enforced, and that those attacking IDF soldiers needed to be fully punished so Israeli sovereignty would not be harmed.
Defense Minister Ehud Barak said that such attacks “have the characteristics of homegrown terror” and would not be tolerated. “We will capture those involved, and they will stand trial,” he vowed.
These activities, he said, endangered lives and “threaten to damage the delicate relations Israel has with its neighbors.”
Lahav Harkov and Yaakov Katz contributed to this report.