Israel’s security cabinet has approved new measures allowing “administrative detention” against Israelis who attack Palestinians, a plan which critics say is ineffective unless the issue of settlements is resolved.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s declaration of “zero tolerance” against “fanaticism” on Sunday followed a pair of attacks last week, including the burning of a Palestinian baby in the occupied West Bank and a deadly stabbing during the gay pride march in Jerusalem.
Israel’s security cabinet issued a statement saying it had directed the security agencies “to take all necessary steps to apprehend those responsible and prevent similar acts”.
It said the measures would include using “administrative detention”, under which detainees can be held for months or years without charges. In the past, Israel had defended the administrative detention of Palestinians as a necessary tool for preventing attacks.
Jazeera’s Stefanie Dekker, reporting from Jerusalem, said details of the measure will be taken up by the Israeli cabinet at a meeting on Tuesday. It is unclear if the period of detention will be similar to that of Palestinian suspects.
At his weekly government meeting, Netanyahu said Israel was united against “the criminals among our people”.
Israel is determined to fight “hate, fanaticism and terrorism from whatever side”, Netanyahu said. “This is a matter of basic humanity and is at the foundation of our enlightened Jewish values,” he said.
Commenting on the announcement, Haaretz journalist Gideon Levy dismissed Netanyahu’s reaction as “too little, too late” and “not much more than hyprocrisy”.
“There is a very clear context of growing violence, nationalism, racism in Israel mainly among the settlers, mainly among nationalist camps,” Levy told Al Jazeera.
“As long as this long and brutal occupation is going on, this is inevitable, and it will just get worse and worse.”
Over the weekend, thousands of Israelis took to the streets to protest against the attacks and warn against a radicalised and violent fringe growing from within the country’s religious community.
Several hundred people convened in Jerusalem’s central Zion Square to rally against violence soon after news broke that the teenage girl injured in Thursday’s stabbing attack had died of her wounds.
Sahar Vardi, an Israeli activist, told Al Jazeera that the “extreme right-wing” supporters who chase and “beat” Palestinians are the same people who shout homophobic slogans in the country.
“There is a very clear extreme right-wing ideology of a group of people, who believe in using violence to serve their ideology, which is both racist and homophobic,” she said.
In the West Bank, meanwhile, a group advocating Israeli-Palestinian coexistence held a prayer vigil in the afternoon with dozens of Israelis and Palestinians.
“We have to look to be neighbours in a good way and to believe that the path to peace is the right one,” Ziad Zabateen, a Palestinian from Bethlehem, said. “We have no other choice, we have to live together without problems, without violence, without terror, without anything.”