Following consultations with the IDF, Shin Bet, and Police Department, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu together with other ministers and the Diplomatic-Security Cabinet decided on a series of security measures aimed at curtailing the recent bout of terror attacks across the country. Some of the measures were put into immediate effect.
In a statement made to the press late Tuesday afternoon following the meeting, Netanyahu listed some of the heightened security measures which included; “deploying extra forces (four battalions) on and around highways throughout Judea and Samaria; the demolition of terrorists’ homes; a more severe punishment for those who throw stones, bottles, fireworks and firebombs; imposing fines on the parents of children and youth who throw stones; and the outlawing of those elements that are stirring up unrest in Jerusalem.” Fireworks were included as a violent weapon in the statement as they have recently been used in multiple attacks against police and security forces.
Other security measures that were taken to “boost the public’s sense of security”, included the setting up of blockades around flashpoint neighborhoods of Jerusalem where rioters have attacked both civilians and police officers; and the moving of arch-terrorist Marwan Barghouti to solitary confinement after he managed to smuggle a letter out of prison with the intent to incite violence against Israelis in honor of the 10th anniversary of Yasser Arafat’s death.
Barghouti was transferred after a disciplinary hearing that was held in Hadarim Prison. He was found guilty of attempted incitement. The hearing also resulted in the fining of Barghouti for a breach of conduct stating that the letter was considered “an interview conducted without permission”.
The convicted murderer and terrorist leader is known to be an enemy of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, and has continually called for violent resistance to Israel.
Arabs in the flashpoint Jerusalem neighborhood of Issawiya, which was blockaded due to the continual attacks which emanate from it, protested yesterday in front of the blockade. “This is collective punishment. We’re not throwing rocks or participating in riots!” an angered resident shouted through a mega-phone. “We just want the roads open,” he said.
Violent protests that have included the throwing of firebombs, fireworks, rocks and glass bottles at police and Israeli civilians have been endemic in the neighborhood. Police have been consistently called upon to restore peace to the streets in and around the neighborhood since violence erupted this past summer. The police have used non-lethal tactics to disperse rioters from the streets, including stink bombs.
In spite of the newly heightened security measures that were enacted on Wednesday, riots and protests continued in certain Arab neighborhoods in Jerusalem, Hebron, and other areas of Judea and Samaria. Police foiled a terror attack when they arrested a 17-year-old resident of Ramallah who later admitted to planning to carry out a stabbing attack on an Israeli target. The suspect was transferred by the police to the Israeli Security Service (Shin Bet) which attests to the seriousness of the planned attack.
Netanyahu went on record urging the Arab public to “not be swept away by propaganda and incitement. Don’t be swept away by an inflamed minority. You are citizens with equal rights and equal obligations, and the first obligation of any citizen is to respect the law.”
“We are in the midst of a campaign of incitement and terrorism directed against the State of Israel and its citizens,” Netanyahu said.
The Prime Minister continued to infuse confidence into the hearts and minds of Israelis and Arabs alike: “The terrorism being directed against us knows no borders. It is trying to uproot us from all parts of the country. From the terrorists’ point of view, we do not need to be in Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, Gush Etzion or anywhere. They will not succeed. Even the attempt by extremist Islamic elements to ignite the ground and cause a religious war will not succeed.
We are determined to take all possible action against incitement and escalation, and we will take vigorous action against the terrorists. We have defeated terrorism until today and we will defeat it this time as well.”
Public Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch ordered the police to bolster deployment nationwide on Sunday, he also urged public vigilance. Aharonovitch also stated that he will prevent Jewish citizens including MK’s from visiting the Temple Mount if it seems that the visit will incite riots. He also said that Muslim worshippers will have to undergo security checks including magnetometers before being allowed access to the site. Aharonovitch also advocated for the annulment of the residency status for those who riot in Jerusalem.