Science and Technology Minister Yaakov Perry (Yesh Atif) warned on Thursday that the escalating situation in Jerusalem is a “ticking time bomb.”
The former head of the Shin Bet, Perry warned that Jerusalem was seeing the signs of an impending third intifada.
“We are witnessing a very serious escalation in Jerusalem,” Perry told Army Radio, referring to Wednesday’s terror attack in Jerusalem which killed a three-month-old baby and injured eight others.
“This escalation is on the verge of becoming an intifada,” he added.
For the last several months, the capital city has been rocked by frequent and violent Arab riots. There have been numerous rock and firebomb attacks on Israelis throughout the city, prompting what many call a “silent intifada.”
Perry criticized the government for failing to intervene at an earlier point, despite pleas from Jerusalem leadership.
“We should have begun a massive reinforcement of the police, Border Police and the intelligence agencies in the earlier stages,” he said. “We could have avoided the escalation.”
While Perry said that violent rioting by Arabs in Jerusalem is not new, he said that the latest attacks are a large warning sign of what is yet to come.
“We need to be honest with ourselves. Attacks in Jerusalem took place also when things were relatively quieter, clashes on the Temple Mount have taken place in the past, but when we look at the whole picture, this present escalation is a very serious one and may explode,” he stated.
In response to the attack, the government has formed a special task force to combat the ongoing violence in Jerusalem. On Thursday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed the “harshest response” for any future attacks.
“Jerusalem is united and was, and always will be, the eternal capital of Israel. Any attempts to harm its residents will be met with the harshest response,” he stated.
Netanyahu added that Wednesday’s terror attack “is supported by the Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas – who glorifies the murderers and also embraces the organization that they are a part of, Hamas.”
Shortly after the attack, a senior aid to Abbas praised the terrorist behind Wednesday’s attack as a “hero.” This sentiment was shared by Hamas, Abbas’s partner in the Palestinian unity government, who celebrated the terror attack in Gaza and warned of the next “Palestinian intifada in Jerusalem.”
“The attack in Jerusalem is an act of heroism and a natural response to the crimes of the occupation against our people and our holy places,” said Mushir al-Masri, a senior Hamas spokesman.
“The attack in Jerusalem is a natural response to what is taking place in the city, given the harassment and overall attacks of Judaization affecting our holy place and Muslims,” added Salah Baradwil, a second Hamas official.
The Islamic Jihad terror organization released an official statement though its armed wing, the Al-Quds Brigade, saying: “There is Zionist aggression against all our people, and today the resistance responded to this attack. This is a natural right.”
“This attack is a strong response to the Israeli occupation, whose crimes are unable to break the resistance,” the terror group said.