Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Tuesday strongly condemned a brutal hate attack on young Palestinians last week in Jerusalem, describing it as a combination of “racism and violence.”
“In the state of Israel we will not tolerate racism nor the combination of racism and violence,” he said in remarks relayed by his office.
The attack in Jerusalem’s central Zion Square, a busy late-night meeting place in the heart of the city’s bar and entertainment district, took place early on Friday.
Dozens of Israelis targeted four cousins from Israeli-annexed Arab east Jerusalem. Press reports said hundreds of onlookers failed to intervene.
One victim, Jamal Julani, 17, remained in a serious condition in hospital on Tuesday.
Netanyahu spoke to the director of the hospital to ask about “the victims of this terrible incident in Jerusalem,” his office said.
“This is something that we cannot accept — not as Jews, not as Israelis. This is not our way,” he said, pledging to bring the perpetrators to justice quickly.
The premier noted that “the entire state and all of its leaders come out together against such phenomena.”
“This is what makes us unique in the environment around us and this will continue to make us unique. I hope that one day our environment will change as well. But we will be persistent in our complete opposition to racism and violence,” he said.
Police have arrested seven suspects since the incident — six aged between 13 and 17 and one 19-year-old — and by Tuesday Jerusalem courts extended the remand of six of them, police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld told AFP.
He added that police were still investigating the incident, and noted that one suspects, a young girl, had been the victim of a sexual assault in the past.
Earlier on Tuesday, President Shimon Peres told residents of Arab village Majdal Krum he was “full of shame” over the incident, which happened “solely because (Julani) is an Arab.”
And Education Minister Gideon Saar ordered that classes and discussions be held in schools next week “following the lynching of the Arab youth in Jerusalem,” his office said in a statement.
“This is a very severe incident, from both the aspects of violence and racism. The high number of youths who participated adds to the concern,” said Saar.