PM Benjamin Netanyahu visits Jerusalem district police headquarters.
(photo credit: GPO)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called for national unity and resilience in the face of five consecutive Palestinian terror attacks on Wednesday, that wounded six Israelis but left no fatalities.
“We are still in the face of a wave of terrorism,” Netanyahu said as he visited the Israel Police’s Jerusalem District command center to hold security consultations.
The premier canceled his scheduled Thursday trip to Germany to focus on restoring calm to the increasingly volatile situation, his office said. Tensions have been high since violent clashes broke out last month between security forces and Palestinians on the Temple Mount over Rosh Hashana.
In Washington, a senior administration official told The Jerusalem Post that the White House is monitoring the situation with a growing sense of alarm.
24 hours of terror in Israel
“We are deeply concerned about recent violence and escalating tensions in the West Bank and Jerusalem,” the senior official said, “and we condemn in the strongest terms violence against Israeli and Palestinian civilians.” “We call upon all parties to take affirmative steps to restore calm, and refrain from actions and rhetoric that would further escalate tensions,” the official continued.
The Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories Maj.-Gen Yoav Mordechai called for calm in an Arabic interview he granted to the Ma’an Palestinian news agency.
Israel doesn’t want violence to escalate in the West Bank, he said, but it will respond harshly to those who incite it.
He assured Palestinians that Israel does not want to change the status quo on the Temple Mount, which is under the joint custodianship of the Islamic Wakf and the Jordanian monarchy.
In Jerusalem, Netanyahu said, “We are taking strong action against the terrorists, rioters and inciters.
“We have boosted our forces and are using all necessary means and methods in the fight against this terrorism,” he said, praising the efforts of security forces and the level headedness of Israeli citizens.
“The goal of terrorism is to sow fear and the first order in defeating terrorism is to be level-headed and resilient, both nationally and personally,” Netanyahu added. “We have known worse times than this and we will also overcome this wave of terrorism with determination, responsibility and unity.
“Civilians are at the forefront of the war against terrorism and must also be on maximum alert,” Netanyahu said.
He held security discussions at the Police’s Jerusalem District command center with ministers, interim Israeli Police Commissioner Benzi Sau and Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat.
On Wednesday afternoon, Netanyahu convened a security cabinet meeting to assess the security situation along with top advisers and officials.
In attendance were Erdan, Barkat, Sau, Jerusalem District Police Chief Moshe Edri and Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee chairman Tzachi Hanegbi.
Palestinian terrorism over the past week claimed four fatalities in attacks last Thursday and Saturday nights. Violence spiked just after a renewed focus by the Quartet in New York to revive the peace process – which has been frozen since April 2014.
At the UN General Assembly in New York Netanyahu called on Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas to resume direct peace negotiations. Abbas rebuffed his call and said he could not speak with Israel while it engaged in settlement building and remained an “occupying” power.
But security officials believe the spark for the wave of violence is the clashes between Israeli security forces and Palestinian rioters on the Temple Mount last month. Netanyahu has accused Abbas of using the issue of the Temple Mount to incite violence against Palestinians.
In Washington, pending a full investigation, the US has not yet determined whether to characterize the attacks as acts of terrorism, a State Department official told the Post on Tuesday. One victim of the recent violence, Eitam Simon Henkin, was an Israeli American citizen.
Earlier in the week, State Department spokesman John Kirby strongly condemned the violence and called for all perpetrators to be “swiftly brought to justice.”Michael Wilner contributed to this report