The government must take ‘every measure’ necessary to end acts of violence and road blocking by right-wing extremists, Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon said on Wednesday night.

‘The battle now is over the image and future of Israel, and under no circumstances can we allow a lawless gang to try to take control of life in Israel,’ he said.

Sharon’s remarks came following a day in which settlers and right-wing activists closed road intersections across the country, clashed with security forces, and attacked Palestinians in the Gaza Strip.

The attempted lynching of a 16-year-old Palestinian in the Gaza Strip by settlers and right-wing extremists, an incident widely broadcast by the media, was the most disturbing. The youth was hospitalized in critical condition after being pelted with large stones thrown by the attackers.

Commenting specifically on pictures of the attack, Sharon said: ‘This bothers me exceptionally. This is an act of savagery, vulgarity and irresponsibility. These are not the acts of settlers, but of Kach members, who come mainly from outside [Gaza] … Such things must be stopped. We cannot let a small group of lawbreakers impose a reign of terror.’

Sharon said he had ordered the police to find the perpetrators and bring charges. He added that he believes the law enforcement authorities understand the gravity of the current situation.