Israeli authorities on Sunday arrested a number of suspects in connection with a firebombing attack, which left an 18-month-old Palestinian boy and his father dead last month, and has prompted an unprecedented crackdown against nationalist Jewish militants in the country.
Israeli police officers and members of the country's Shin Bet security service detained a number of suspects -- reports in the Israeli media put the number at between 7 and 9 -- in raids launched late Saturday and early Sunday.
The suspects were arrested in wildcat Jewish settlement outposts in the occupied West Bank as part of "the investigation into the events that occurred in Duma," the Palestinian village where the July 31 arson attack took place, police said in a statement, cited by the AFP news agency.
Israel pledged to crack down on domestic terror suspects after the attack in Duma, and an attack on a gay pride parade in Jerusalem carried out by a member of the country's Orthodox community. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu branded the Duma attack a “horrific, heinous” crime that is “a terror attack in every respect.”
The crackdown on Jewish terrorists is something of a departure for Israel, where authorities have been criticized in the past for an apparent unwillingness to prosecute Jewish terror suspects with the same vigor with which they pursued their Palestinian counterparts.
One suspect in the attack, Mordechai Meyer, became the first suspected Jewish militant to be subject to the country's procedure of administrative detention earlier this week, which sees terror suspects detained without trial for a period of 6 months. The policy has commonly been used to detain Palestinian terror suspects in the past.
Palestinian Authority Foreign Minister Riad Malki said Saturday that the “extremist right-wing Israeli government” is fully responsible for the arson attack, and claimed that it is not doing anything to fight Jewish terrorism, the Jerusalem Post reported.
The twin attacks have prompted a debate within Israeli society about its own internal struggle to balance a rising religiosity with civil rights, and the ongoing conflict with the Palestinians, the New York Times reported.