JERUSALEM – Israel's security cabinet approved new measures Sunday against Israelis who attack Palestinians, and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said his government will have "zero tolerance" for Jewish extremists.
The tough talk follows a pair of attacks last week that shocked Israelis. On Friday, suspected Jewish extremists set fire to a Palestinian home in the West Bank and burned a toddler to death. On Thursday, an ultra-Orthodox Jew stabbed revelers at a gay pride parade in Jerusalem, and a 16-year-old girl wounded in that attack died of her wounds Sunday.
Israel's security cabinet issued a statement Sunday night 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. Israel has defended the administrative detention of Palestinians as a necessary tool for preventing militant attacks.
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.
Thousands of Israelis took to the streets over the weekend to protest the attacks and warn against a radicalized 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 attack had died of her wounds.
The girl was among six people wounded when an extremist attacked the parade. The same man had carried out a similar attack on a gay pride parade in 2005, and had angrily spoken out against the parade after his release from prison three weeks earlier.
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 neighbors 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."