Israel has been struggling with myriad internal conflicts involving identity and pluralism. As the ultra-Orthodox population has grown, battles have erupted over the role of women in the public sphere and whether Yeshiva students should remain exempt from military service. A surge of illegal immigration by African workers led to a fierce backlash this spring, raising questions of tolerance. And a spate of mosque burnings and vandalism has hit Palestinian villages in the Israeli-occupied West Bank.
Monday’s effort to draw a lesson, perhaps a healing moment, came as the nation was shocked again when a court held two 12-year-olds and a 13-year-old in connection with the firebombing of a Palestinian taxi on the same day. The youths live in Bat Ayin, a religious Jewish settlement, and the taxi was hit on a nearby road. The driver and his five passengers were wounded, two seriously. The youths’ lawyer on Monday denied their involvement; the father of one called the case “a modern-day blood libel.” Eight teenagers, ages 13 to 19, have been arrested in the Zion Square attack, and several are expected to be formally charged on Tuesday with criminal conspiracy and grievous bodily harm by two or more people.
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