Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed to ensure Israel's sovereignty and continue to build throughout the country, including in the West Bank, in the wake of a stabbing attack that claimed the life of a 19-year-old soldier and yeshiva student near Gush Etzion.
Speaking at a ceremony marking the establishment of a new neighborhood in the settlement of Beit El, the premier said: "These despicable terrorists, they come to uproot – we come to plant. They come to destroy – we come to build."
"We will deepen our roots in our homeland, in all of its parts," the prime minister went on to add as he celebrated the establishment of 650 housing units in the settlement.
Speaking about the fallen soldier Dvir Sorek, Netanyahu said: "Today one of our finest sons has fallen, the son of a family who has already made a big sacrifice for the State of Israel." Netanyahu was addressing the fact that Sorek's late grandfather, Benjamin Herling, died in a terror attack near Nablus in 2002.
Later, touring Gush Etzion near the scene of the killing, Netanyahu said he had received ongoing updates from the Shin Bet security services chief regarding the investigation into the murder of Sorek.
“Over the past few years, security forces led by the Shin Bet have located all murderers, and I’m certain, based on what I’ve heard, that we will also capture those who commited this heinous killing, and we will bring them and their operatives to justice,” Netanyahu said.
Kahol Lavan leader Benny Gantz, who also toured Gush Etzion, said "we will continue building in Gush Etzion, which is part of the State of Israel and in all the places we consider as having important strategic value that is important to preserve. We'll continue [building] out of strategic view and not a short-term political view.
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"We embrace the family and friends of [slain soldier Dvir Sorek] and we are committed to his way of living, a way of learning and Zionism in the full sense of the word," Gantz said.
The attack elicited an onslaught of comments by right-wing politicians, who called for a tougher Israeli stance against the Palestinians. Former Education Minister Naftali Bennett, who is positioned fourth on the United Right slate, said that "the words 'we will bring the murderer to justice' are hollower today than they ever were. This is just not true. The murderer will be jailed in good conditions, his home won't really be demolished, his monthly stipend [from the Palestinian Authority] will continue – and he will become a Palestinian hero. This is not how you bring someone to justice."
Bennett suggested that the Israeli government should respond to terror attack differently, by increasing deterrence. "On this day, the gates of hell should open on Hamas and its entities. On this very day we ought to apply Israeli law in Gush Etzion through a government directive.
Fellow party member Bezalel Smotrich, meanwhile, took to Twitter to urge that it was "time to dismantle the Palestinian Authority." He referred to a tweet by Netanyahu's international media adviser, Evan Cohen, who attacked Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on Twitter in the wake of Thursday's stabbing. "Only yesterday, forty U.S. congressmen heard Abu Mazen lying again about his will for peace. And today, we wake up to the reality, a brutal murder," he wrote.
Smotrich wrote that "there is no need to make insinuations," and blamed Abbas for the attack. "The Authority is the biggest producer of terrorism, through incitement and its payments to terrorists."