Netanyahu: Extremist attackers not representative

Benjamin Netanyahu

Benjamin Netanyahu

The Israeli prime minister has pledged to devote more resources to investigations into extremist activity in the West Bank as part of a crackdown into the groups behind the rash of so-called "price tag" attacks.

Benjamin Netanyahu said on Wednesday that administrative detention orders, usually reserved for Palestinians under suspicion, could now be issued for Jewish extremists.

He also said that activists should be tried in military courts, clearing the way for tougher sentencing, and gave IDF soldiers the authority to make arrests in the West Bank. More resources will also be directed to those investigating extremist activity, including the police and the Shin Bet intelligence agency.

Although he stopped short of accepting a recommendation to label extremists as terrorists, he warned that anybody who "lays a hand on IDF soldiers or Israeli policemen will be harshly punished."

He added: "These people are a small group that does not represent those living in [the West Bank] - people loyal to the state and its laws and who condemn such behavio u r."

This week has seen a string of attacks in the West Bank, with two mosques set on fire. The Nebi Akasha mosque in Jerusalem was vandalised and police found graffiti at the site reading "price tag" and "Mohammed is a pig".

The US hate monitor, the Anti-Defamation League, joined groups condemning the attacks and the violent reaction when Israeli police tried to stop those who were responsible.

Abraham Foxman, national director, said he welcomed Mr Netanyahu's statements on the incident. "It is important that Israeli officials send a clear message to those who carry out or incite such behavior that they face serious judicial consequences, and ensure that they are prosecuted to the full extent of Israeli law."

Last updated: 11:57am, December 15 2011