Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon visited the IDF's Etzion Territorial Division on Tuesday, where he said that the defense establishment is preparing for the possibility of an additional security escalation.
"We are familiar with this, that the moment a vehicular terror attack succeeds, it seems another will come after it, or if a knifing succeeds, then another will follow. Hence, we are beefing up the forces, to increase our presence and carry out more intensive activities to prevent that," Ya'alon said.
The Palestinian Authority's security forces are acting to decrease violence in friction points, and are meeting with the IDF, Ya'alon said. On the other hand, rhetoric coming out of the PA's heads in recent days caused an escalation following Temple Mount unrest, he added.
Ya'alon has asked Israeli politicians at this time to refrain from visiting the Temple Mount to lower tensions, he stated.
He acknowledged the difficulties in stopping lone attackers, who he said are inspired by incitement to violence. "Someone receives false information about our activities, particularly on the Temple Mount, and hears false statements. Then he rises and takes action. All of the attackers recently, as far as we understand, were subject to this incitement.
Referring to the two terrorist murders of Israelis on Monday by Palestinians armed with knives, Ya'alon said each attacker took the decision to act alone, and did not operate within a wider organization.
"Both are from Judea and Samaria. One is from Hebron, and the other is from Nablus," he said.
"We are in the peak of an escalation that began with incidents on the Temple Mount a few weeks ago, spreading to Jerusalem, to Judea and Samaria, and other locations in the country, including, unfortunately, to Arab Israelis. We will not let this escalation develop. Here, in Judea and Samaria, forces have been reinforced in recent days, including in the past 24 hours, firstly to provide a security solution in light of vehicular and knife attacks. And certainly if someone tries to carry out what's called an organized terror attack," the defense minister said.
Ya'alon cited a rise in firebombing and rock throwing in recent days, adding that he hoped reinforcements would help reduce such incident. Additionally, the IDF is carrying out wider arrest operations due to the increased threat of terror attacks, the minister added. "We will act with a firm hand, including destroying the homes of terrorists, to stop this wave. Additionally, I call on anyone who can have an influence, and who has an interest in calm, to calm the situation. I understand that Hamas has no interest in calming the situation, and that perhaps other Islamic elements don't have an interest in calm, but if the Palestinian Authority has an interest in calm, it should" act accordingly, Ya'alon said.
Israel, for its part, is taking steps to deescalate the situation on the Temple Mount, Ya'alon said.
Israel has also beefed up forces around the security fence to prevent Palestinians from illegally entering Israel without permits. Additionally, concrete barricades are being built at all main bus stops and hitchhiking posts in the West Bank.
"Yesterday, there was an attempt first of all to run over Israelis [in the attack at Gush Etzion], but this failed because of the barricades at Alon Shvut station. Then it turned into a knifing, which unfortunately ended as it did," Ya'alon said.
Despite the escalation, there are no masses of Palestinians rioting in the streets, he stressed. Nevertheless, the defense establishment's assumption is that there will be further attacks, since the "atmosphere is one of incitement and escalation," Ya'alon aid. "Anyone who thinks of carrying out a terror attack and becoming a Shaheed [martyr], as they call it, could take action, and as a result we will see more incidents of this type."
Referring to recent IDF shootings of Palestinian rioters, Ya'alon said the army has acted correctly. "Anyone who tries to harm IDF soldiers and threatens their lives – IDF soldiers must strike them," he said.
"It's clear that anyone who tries to murder a person has to be struck in order to be killed," Ya'alon said, in response to a question about the shooting of the Gush Etzion knife attacker on Monday. "The fate of any terrorist who raises his hand, whether he holds a knife, or to run someone over, or if he's carrying a firearm, has to be death, in accordance with the circumstances. This is not a punishment; this is a strike to prevent the murderer's intentions of killing others from being realized."