Israel has arrested members of a 'Jewish terror group' allegedly behind the arson of a Palestinian home that killed a toddler, his parents and wounded a 4-year-old. The attack helped trigger the recent spat of violence.
Israel's Shin Bet domestic security agency said on Thursday it has arrested several members of the alleged right-wing Jewish terror group in recent days over their role in the July arson attack on the West Bank home of the Dawabsheh family.
The announcement comes a day after the UN's special coordinator for the Middle East peace process Nickolay Mladenov expressed concern over the "slow progress" of bringing those behind the attack to justice in Israel.
Israeli police did not say how many far-right extremists were arrested, their names, or any details of the case, due to a restriction by the court.
The July 31 attack in Duma, a village outside Nablus in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, ignited smoldering Palestinian anger over a frozen peace process and illegal Jewish settlement building in land Palestinians claim for a future state.
Tensions have also arisen over the al-Aqsa Mosque compound, the third most holy site in the Islamic world and most holy site for Jews, who call it the Temple Mount.
The international community, Israeli and Palestinian leaders condemned the attack as Israeli authorities vowed to crack down on Jewish extremism.
Violence has spiraled out of control, claiming the lives of 19 Israelis and one Jewish US citizen in near daily stabbing, shooting and car ramming incidents.
Israel blames the Palestinian media and leadership of inciting the violence.
At least 97 Palestinians, 58 claimed by Israel to be assailants, have been killed since October. The others have been killed mainly in protests and clashes with Israeli security forces.
Earlier this week the Israeli rights group B'Tselem accused Israel of carrying out a "shoot-to-kill policy," - charges denied by Israeli authorities.
"Spurred by senior (right-wing) politicians and backed by the prime minister and the weak lip-service paid by the attorney general, soldiers and police officers have become judge, jury and executioner," Hagai El-Ad, the executive director of the rights group, said in a statement.
In the most recent incident of violence, on Thursday a Palestinian shot and wounded two people including a soldier near Jerusalem before being shot dead by soldiers.
The first of the seemingly random Palestinian attacks on Jews started on October 1, when Palestinian Rajeb Aliweh shot and killed a Jewish settler couple in front of their children as they drove between two settlements.
Israel claims Aliweh, who was later arrested, is a member of the militant group Hamas, but the group has not claimed responsibility for the attack.
Israel has responded to the attacks with tough security measures, including resuming the controversial policy of demolishing the homes of Palestinian attackers.
In the latest of a series of retributive demolitions, early on Thursday morning Israeli security forces demolished Aliweh's home in Nablus.
On Wednesday, security forces demolished another home of Palestinian Ibrahim al-Akari, who killed two people including a border police officer in November 2014.
Israel argues the razing homes acts as a deterrent, but rights groups, the EU and US condemn the practice as a counterproductive policy that amounts to collective punishment against entire families.
Demolitions are regularly accompanied by violent clashes between Palestinian youth and security forces.
cw/jm (AFP, AP, dpa, Reuters)