President urges unity in fight against violence

At swearing in ceremony for 18 new judges, president expresses shock, revulsion at firebombing of Palestinian taxi.

Peres 370 (Marc) (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)
Peres 370 (Marc)
(photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)
President Shimon Peres on Monday issued a call to the nation to unite in a common effort to reduce violence at all levels of society, while speaking at his official residence at a swearing in ceremony for 18 new judges.
Peres expressed the shock and revulsion that he felt at the death of three women who  were killed over the weekend by a hit and run driver in Netanya, as well as the senseless firebombing of a Palestinian taxi in which several members of a family including children were injured.
He told the huge crowd assembled in the reception hall of the Residence that last week when he hosted an Iftar dinner for the leadership of the Muslim community, Abd El Hakim Samara, the Head of the Sharia Court of Appeals and director of the Sharia Courts had beseeched him to stop the violence that was pervading the country.
Putting an end to violence was a common cause on which there would be consensus among different streams and sectors of society, he said, and urged judges to lead the campaign to stop carnage on the roads and killings through the wild and reckless use of guns and knives.
Earlier Sunday, Vice Premier Moshe Ya'alon described two violent attacks against Arabs ​​over the weekend in Judea and Samaria and Jerusalem as "hate crimes" and "terrorist acts." He called the attacks "totally unacceptable and outrageous" and ascribed their incidence to a moral and educational failure that goes against Jewish ethics and values.
Ya'alon wrote on his Twitter account that Israel cannot afford such phenomena and that it is the duty of elected officials to use all the tools at their disposal to fight an all-out war to ensure these "heinous acts" are not repeated.
In one attack on Thursday night, described as a “lynch situation” by a witness, Jewish teenagers targeted three Arabs in downtown Jerusalem’s Zion Square. The beating left a 20-year-old Arab man in critical condition.
A 19-year-old Jewish Jerusalem man was arrested on Saturday in connection with the attack. Police said they expect to make additional arrests in the case in the coming days.
Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat on Sunday came out strongly against violence in the nation's capital, releasing a statement saying, "I unequivocally condemn any expression of violence, both verbal or physical, by any party."
The mayor added that he is confident police will bring the attackers to justice, while calling for continued co-existence in the city.
In the other incident, also on Thursday a Molotov cocktail was thrown at a Palestinian taxi outside the Gush Etzion settlement of Bat Ayin. Six people were lightly to moderately wounded, including two children.
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu vowed to bring to justice the perpetrators, relaying this in a rare phone call to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.
For his part, Abbas blamed settlers for the attack, which took “place under the eye of the Israeli army, which is not doing anything to stop them.”
The US State Department also issued a statement extending “our deepest sympathies to the victims, among them children, and we hope for their speedy recovery. We note that the government of Israel has also condemned this heinous attack and pledged to bring the perpetrators to justice. We look to Israeli law enforcement officials to do so expeditiously. We urge all parties to avoid any actions that could lead to an escalation of violence.”
Ben Hartman, Tovah Lazaroff and Melanie Lidman contributed to this report.