Israel vows to fight Jewish terrorism as 16yo girl stabbed at pride parade dies
Sixteen-year-old Shira Banki, who was critically injured by an ultra-orthodox Jew along with five others at a peaceful Gay Pride march in Jerusalem on Thursday, succumbed to her injuries in a hospital on Sunday. This coincided with a cabinet meeting called by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who urgently needs to formulate a response to the spiraling violence in the country, just months after flirting with Israel’s right-wing electorate prior to an election in April.
“We recently witnessed two abhorrent crimes,” Netanyahu told his cabinet on Sunday, referring to the stabbing attack in Jerusalem and the West Bank house arson that resulted in a Palestinian toddler’s death. “I have instructed security and law-enforcement officials to use all legal means at their disposal to apprehend the murderers and deal with the stabber and the arsonists to the fullest extent of the law.”
This will include “administrative detention,” which allows authorities to jail suspects for up to six months without charge, dependent on the approval of Israel’s attorney-general.
During an earlier cabinet meeting, Netanyahu asserted that “we are determined to vigorously fight manifestations of hate, fanaticism and terrorism from whatever side.”
At this point, however, there are over 5,000 Palestinians currently held being held in administrative detention, but no Israelis, according to the Israeli human rights group B’Tselem.
“To the best of my knowledge, there have been no instances of Israelis being held in administrative detention in recent years,” B’Tselem spokeswoman Sarit Michaeli told reporters.
However, it is a wave of radical Jewish violence that has gripped the country this past week. Hours after the Jerusalem stabbing, suspected Jewish settlers set fire to a Palestinian home in the occupied West Bank, killing an 18-month-old child and critically injuring his 4-year-old brother and parents.
The news of the incidents triggered anti-government protests across the country. Two 17-year-old Palestinian boys were shot dead by Israeli forces while reportedly protesting the toddler’s death, and several others were injured.
Meanwhile, both Israeli and Palestinian demonstrators spoke out against the spike in violence at peaceful rallies in Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, and in other places. A Jerusalem rally near the site of Pride Parade stabbings on Saturday briefly turned violent as several far-right demonstrators attempted to disrupt it.
Death threats to Rivlin
Some Israeli politicians have strongly denounced the attacks, but their condemnations have apparently enraged right-wing radicals. Israel’s President Reuven Rivlin received death threats after posting a message to Facebook condemning the murder of the Palestinian toddler and calling for restraint and co-existence. Earlier, Rivlin gave a flamboyant speech in Jerusalem, in which he blasted the “flames of violence, flames of hatred, flames of false, distorted and twisted beliefs” that he said have “engulfed” Israel.
Responses to the president’s messages included death threats and accusations of being a “traitor” and a “terrorist.”
Shin Bet, Israel’s internal security service, advised the President’s Office to file a police complaint following the threats.
Here is the message Rivlin posted on Facebook:
“More than feeling shame, I feel pain. Pain over the murder of a little baby. Pain that members of my nation chose this way of terror and lost their sense of humanity. Their path is not my path. Their path is not our path. Their path is not the path of the State of Israel and it is not the path of the Jewish people … During these painful moments, I turn to you, to the Palestinian people, to all law-abiding citizens, and ask you not to give in to feelings of anger and rage. This is a time for us to link arms.”