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Israel takes steps to curb settler violence
Human rights groups accuse Israel of failing to arrest most settlers involved in violence against Palestinians [Reuters]
Binyamin Netanyahu, the Israeli prime minister, has approved measures to crack down on violent ultra-nationalist Jewish settlers after a rampage at an occupied West Bank military base and torching of a mosque's facade stirred public outrage.
Among the measures approved by Netanyahu on Wednesday were administrative detention of suspects, trials of some suspects in military rather than civil courts, and ejection from the West Bank of settlers suspected of inciting violence.
Israeli soldiers will also be empowered to carry out arrests, a statement from Netanyahu's office said. Until now Israeli police have had to be called to a crime scene to conduct arrests, giving perpetrators time to flee.
But the prime minister rejected calls from the justice and internal security ministers to classify violent right-wing groups as "terrorists".
"Anyone who raises a hand against Israeli soldiers or police will be severely punished," Netanyahu said.
He said such suspects would be dealt with in the same way as protesters in Bilin, a Palestinian village where clashes, sometimes deadly, over the Israeli separation barrier built across occupied land occur regularly.
Attacks by violent Jewish groups have in the past generally targeted Palestinians and Arabs, but in recent months they have been increasingly directed at the army and left-wing Israelis..... more
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