Police, PM vow to find perpetrators of firebombing

Netanyahu calls Abbas on Id al-Fitr, promises to arrest attackers; extremists believed behind Molotov cocktail attack on W. Bank taxi.

Palestinian vehicle damaged in attack 370 (photo credit: Screenshot)
Palestinian vehicle damaged in attack 370
(photo credit: Screenshot)
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Israel Police Insp.-Gen. Yohanan Danino vowed Friday to bring to justice those who threw a Molotov cocktail at a Palestinian taxi outside the Gush Etzion settlement of Bat Ayin on Thursday night.
Six people were lightly to moderately wounded, including two children.
An initial investigation raised fears that Jewish extremists perpetrated the attack.
Netanyahu held a rare phone conversation Saturday night with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas to wish him well on the occasion of Id al-Fitr. According to the Prime Minister’s Office, during the conversation Netanyahu discussed the attack, and again promised that all efforts would be made to arrest those responsible.
This was the third time since the attack Thursday evening that the PMO issued statements saying Netanyahu promised that all efforts would be made to bring the perpetrators to justice.
On Friday, Netanyahu sent a message to Abbas and PA Prime Minister Salam Fayyad, saying that he viewed the firebomb attack as a “very serious” offense and that all efforts would be made to bring the perpetrators to justice.
Netanyahu’s special envoy Yitzhak Molcho called PA chief negotiator Saeb Erekat with the message for Abbas and Fayyad. The prime minister added that he would ensure the victims of the attack were receiving proper medical treatment.
During a briefing held at the Temple Mount complex on the occasion of the last Friday of Ramadan, Danino referred to the attack as “a very severe incident” and said he had instructed police to do whatever it took to arrest the would-be killers as soon as possible.
The police “won’t allow extremist criminals to disrupt and inflame daily life across Israel, in particular in areas that are especially sensitive,” he said.
The US State Department issued a statement on Friday saying “We extend 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.”
OC Judea and Samaria Division Brig.-Gen. Hagai Mordechai said Thursday that the incident could compromise security and stability in the West Bank.
On Thursday night, Mordechai increased IDF presence along friction points on West Bank roads.
A security source said it would have been obvious to the assailants that they were targeting a Palestinian taxi, because the attack occurred in daylight in a place with good visibility.
The yellow vehicle with a green Palestinian license plate, typical of West Bank Palestinian taxis, could not have been mistaken for any other kind of vehicle, the security source said.
But, the source added, that the investigation was still in its initial stages.
According to the police, the taxi flipped and burst into flames after the Molotov cocktail hit it. Paramedics soon evacuated all six wounded to Hadassah University Hospital in Jerusalem’s Ein Kerem.
Police said they found a second, ready-to-use Molotov cocktail near the site of the firebombing. They would not comment as to whether Jewish extremists firebombed the taxi, saying they are still in the initial stages of the investigation.
The Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) joined police and IDF troops in the search for the assailants.
The Shin Bet had initially declined to comment on whether it considered the incident a “price tag” attack, the name given to attacks by Jewish extremists against Palestinians in order to protest government policies. The Shin Bet also placed a gag order on details of the attack.
The Tag Meir group, a coalition of Israeli organizations that opposes Jewish violence against Palestinians, condemned the attack in a statement released by the organization’s chairman Dr. Gadi Gvaryahu, saying “We must not allow such price-tag attacks to become commonplace.”
Gvaryahu added: “The security apparatus must do everything in its power to arrest those responsible for attacking an innocent Palestinian family.”
Herb Keinon and Jerusalem Post staff contributed to this report.