Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Tuesday pledged anew to rein in a wave of attacks on Palestinian and Israeli property by disgruntled Jewish settlers, his office said.
Speaking at a candle-lighting ceremony to start the eight-day Jewish festival of Hannuka, also known as the Festival of Lights, Netanyahu told soldiers at a West Bank army base that his government would “not accept attacks on soldiers, police, on Arabs, Jews, on mosques.”
He was speaking at the Ephraim base in the northern West Bank, where a group of about 50 extremist settlers broke in last week, damaged vehicles and attacked a senior officer.
“Even the smallest stain will soil the whitest shirt,” Netanyahu’s office quoted him as saying. “We have here a stain on Israel’s democracy which is based on the rule of law.”
On Monday attackers sprayed a West Bank mosque with anti-Islamic and pro-settler graffiti in an assault that bore the hallmarks of another raid by the extremists, the seventh such incident in as many days.
The Palestinian cabinet on Tuesday condemned what it called “the Israeli government’s silence” on the attacks and called on the international community to pressure the Jewish state “to end settler terrorism.”
Ultra-nationalist Jews are fighting government plans to dismantle wildcat settlement outposts by vandalizing mainly Palestinian property, although they have recently struck at Israeli army bases and the homes and offices of leftwing Israelis.
It was the third mosque attack since Wednesday, one of which coincided with the demolition by troops of the Mitzpe Yitzhar outpost.
Last week, Netanyahu ordered tougher measures against Jewish “rioters” after a surge in settler violence, in particular the attack on the Ephraim base.