Coalition members condemn latest settler attack, with some calling to raze outposts


Criticism of masked attackers mostly comes from left-wing, centrist lawmakers, but Yamina minister also slams assault on activists, Palestinians: ‘This behavior must be rooted out’

By TOI STAFF 22 January 2022

A firefighter douses the flames in an Israeli car after it was allegedly set on fire by Jewish extremists in the West Bank near the outpost of Givat Ronen on January 21, 2022. (Courtesy: Yesh Din)

An attack Friday by settler extremists on Palestinians and Israeli activists in the northern West Bank drew denunciations from across the political spectrum, with several coalition lawmakers calling to demolish the outpost from which the assailants allegedly came.

Health Minister Nitzan Horowitz called the “terrifying violence” in the Palestinian village of Burin, apparently by a group of Jewish extremists from the nearby Givat Ronen outpost, a “pogrom.”

“Condemnation is not enough. The perpetrators must be stopped and prosecuted, and the wild outposts from which the violence came must be evacuated,” Horowitz, who heads the left-wing Meretz party, said in a statement hours after footage was released from the scene showing settlers attacking with clubs and stones, wounding at least six and burning a car.Top articles on The Times of IsraelRead More

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Meretz MK Gaby Lasky called out Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, saying he “must understand that it is unacceptable to allow this violence to continue.”

Bennett, in the past, has pushed back against those who have drawn attention to settler violence, calling it an “insignificant phenomenon.”Get The Times of Israel’s Daily Editionby email and never miss our top storiesNewsletter email addressGET ITBy signing up, you agree to the terms

“The rioters must be stopped and the outposts must be dismantled,” Lasky said, apparently not differentiating between Givat Ronen and the roughly 140 illegal outposts throughout the West Bank.

Democratic Choice chairman Yair Golan (L) and Meretz chairman Nitzan Horowitz sign an agreement to run together as the Democratic Camp on January 7, 2019. (Courtesy)

While the international community considers all settlement activity illegal, Israel differentiates between legal settlement homes built and permitted by the Defense Ministry on land owned by the state, and those built illegally without necessary permits, often on private Palestinian land.

Deputy Economy Minister Yair Golan, also of Meretz, used the incident as an opportunity to double down on remarks from earlier in the month, when he called settlers from Homesh “subhuman” shortly after a Palestinian terror attack at the outpost took the life of Yehuda Dimentman.

Following significant uproar at the time, Golan said he maybe shouldn’t have used the term subhuman, while standing by his condemnation of Homesh more broadly.

After the attack on Friday though, he tweeted, “fine, not subhuman. So what would you call them?”

In a subsequent Channel 12 interview, Golan was defiant, saying the issue was not his response to settler violence but the violence itself.Matan Kahana in the Knesset alongside Yamina colleagues Naftali Bennett and Ayelet Shaked (Danny Shem-Tov)

“People with a messianic and dangerous worldview are dragging us as a country into the most extreme places. They want to expel the Arabs and take over the territory,” Golan said.

However, he defended the broad political makeup of the ruling coalition, saying it’s the “first time that right-wing, left-wing, religious, secular, Arab and Jewish people are sitting together and cooperating.”

At the same time, he hit out at Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked of Bennett’s right-wing Yamina party. Neither Shaked nor the premier has condemned the settler violence.

“Ayelet Shaked has a problem. She is talking to an imaginary base that no longer exists,” he said, alleging she was trying to cater to a base of “extremists.”

Religious Affairs Minister Matan Kahana of Yamina appeared to be the most right-wing lawmaker to denounce the attack in Burin, though he struck a different tone than coalition members who are left of him.(From left) Benny Gantz, Yair Lapid, Naftali Bennett, Gideon Sa’ar and Merav Michaeli sit together after their new coalition wins Knesset approval, June 13, 2021. (Haim Zach/GPO)

“The violent rioters who carried out the severe attack in Samaria (the northern West Bank) this morning must be dealt decisively and this behavior must be rooted out,” he said before defending the broader settlement movement as a whole. “These [few] individuals will not tarnish an entire sector of pioneers who are the salt of the earth.”

Foreign Minister Yair Lapid said attacks like Friday’s inch Israel closer to “an abyss that cannot be bridged.”

“The police will investigate and prosecute the criminals, and we need to educate and have an in-depth dialogue about neighborly relations, the rule of law and how we want to live here,” Lapid added.

Transportation Minister Merav Michaeli, leader of the Labor party, said “the State of Israel cannot allow rioters to rage and harm human beings. This violent and dangerous handful, which threatens the future of Zionism, must be condemned.”ADVERTISEMENT

“Once again, I call on the minister responsible to put an end to this chaos,” she said, once again calling out Defense Minister Benny Gantz, though this time not by name.Alon Schuster, March 19, 2021. (Michael Giladi/Flash90)

Gantz, who recently contracted COVID, did not immediately issue a statement on the attack in Burin.

Deputy Defense Minister Alon Schuster of Gantz’s Blue and White party called the Jewish assailants a threat “to national security.”

“The IDF, the Shin Bet, the Israel Police and the State Prosecutor’s Office will continue their efforts to stop the violent Israelis who are undermining state security, harming Israel’s moral image and ruining the good name of the Jewish settlement in Judea and Samaria,” he said.

According to unsourced Hebrew media reports Friday, the Shin Bet security service was involved in investigating the incident in Burin. The reports also said law enforcement believes the attack was planned in advance.

Israeli security officials have warned that violence by Jewish extremists in the West Bank has spiked in recent months. Shin Bet officials told The Times of Israel in late December that Jewish extremist violence had increased by 50 percent over the past year.

Nonetheless, the internal Israeli political debate over the phenomenon has been divisive. Right-wing Israeli politicians have denounced the characterization of the attacks as “settler violence,” charging that it is an attempt to besmirch all Jews living in the West Bank.


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