During a visit on Saturday to the scene of Friday’s Tel Aviv shooting attack, in which two were killed and seven injured, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made a statement announcing that the Israeli government will no longer tolerate an Arab-Israeli population which does not answer to the country’s laws.
He called Friday’s attack “a heinous and unbelievably vicious murder” in which young Israelis “whose entire lives were ahead of them, the ages of my own children, were innocently sitting celebrating a birthday and were murdered in cold blood.”
He sent condolences to the families of the victims and well-wishes for a complete and quick recovery to the wounded.
The shooter, identified as Nashat Milhem, 29, is still on the loose. Netanyahu said that he had received a comprehensive briefing from the Israel Police and Israel Security Authority on the search and that the security forces are “working around the clock” to find Milhem.
He requested that the public be on “maximum alert” for the killer, whose photo has been released to the media.
The Israeli leader said that he appreciated the condemnations of the crime which came from the Arab public and said he expected “all Arab MKs”, without exception, to “condemn the murder without hesitation”.
The largely Arab Joint List party condemned the attack on Saturday night. Joint List MK Ahmad Tibi (Ta’al) told The Jerusalem Post on Saturday night, “The Joint List has always been, and remains, against harm to innocents. We denounce and reject this out of hand.”
The local council of Milhem’s hometown, the Arab village Arara, also strongly condemned the shooting, releasing a statement saying that the Milhem’s actions do not represent the residents of the village and offering condolences to the families of the victims.
Netanyahu added that, despite the number of Muslim and Arab citizens who have come out against the violence, there remains a “wild radical Islamic incitement against the State of Israel in the Arab sector.”
“There is incitement in mosques, in the educational system and in social media,” he said.
He declared that there are currently two states in Israel, one law-abiding, and one lawless, and that he was “not prepared to accept two States of Israel, a state of law for most of its citizens and a state within a state for some of them, in enclaves in which there is no law enforcement and in which there is Islamist incitement, rampant crime and illegal weapons”.
“This era has ended,” he added.
A plan “with a lot of money and resources” had been formulated, Netanyahu said, by himself, the Public Security Minister and the Israel Police Inspector General, which will “dramatically increase law enforcement services in the Arab sector.”
He announced that Israel will enforce the law and its sovereignty throughout the entire country by building new police stations, recruiting more police officers, and demanding “loyalty to the laws of the state” from every community.
“One cannot say ‘I am an Israeli in rights and a Palestinian in obligations’,” he warned. “Whoever wants to be Israeli should be an Israeli all the way, both in rights and in obligations, and the first and highest obligation is to obey the laws of the state.”
Netanyahu concluded by giving recognition to the Christian, Druze and Bedouin communities in Israel whose members already support the state by enlisting in the IDF, working in civilian service, and participating in the national life of Israel, and acknowledged that this movement is also visible within the Muslim community.
He called for a continuation of this trend, saying, “I call on all citizens of Israel, especially its Muslim citizens, to take the path of integration, coexistence and peace and not the path of incitement, hatred and fanaticism. We are all citizens of the state and are all bound to maintain it and uphold its laws.”