Security forces at the site of the murder by a Palestinian on Saturday of two Israelis in Jerualem's Old City .
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
The government must have zero tolerance for violence, Education Minister Naftali Bennett said Tuesday, after his Bayit Yehudi faction held a meeting in the Old City of Jerusalem.
The faction meeting took place on Hagai Street in the Old City, where Rabbi Nehemia Lavi, 41, and Aharon Benita, 22, were murdered on Thursday. Benita’s wife, Adel, was stabbed and seriously wounded, and said that when she asked local Arab vendors for help, they hit her, spit at her and taunted her.
MK Moti Yogev (Bayit Yehudi) opened a temporary extra-parliamentary office in the alley on the site earlier Tuesday – setting up a folding table and chairs for himself and his aides and a paper sign reading “MK Yogev’s Office.” Bennett explained that the meeting was held there to assert Israeli sovereignty and rule of law.
“We are on Hagai Street in the Old City and the principle that guides us is that the fate of Hagai Street in the Old City of Jerusalem will be the same as the fate of Ibn Gvirol Street in Tel Aviv,” he said.
“Rule of law and sovereignty here needs to be identical to rule of law on the streets of Tel Aviv.”
Bennett called for there to be “no spitting, no shouting, no harassment, no rock-throwing and no firebombs – a policy of zero tolerance.”
Bayit Yehudi MKs received a briefing from Old City security officer Meir Tal, who described the tense security situation in recent weeks, including Arabs throwing rocks and firebombs at Jews – as well as spitting on them and constantly harassing Jewish residents.
Bennett spent Monday’s Simhat Torah holiday in the Old City and the adjacent City of David neighborhood, and said that he heard from residents that they feel there is a lack of security in its streets.
“We are here to say to the residents of the Old City that we are with you,” he declared. “We will bring security back to the Old City and we will bring security back to the State of Israel.”
Earlier, Yogev gave a Torah class to religious teens at the site of the attack. The MK says an Arab woman approached them and began shouting and cursing at the group.
Video posted by Channel 2 News shows Yogev and the woman shouting at one another, with police separating them.
“Go to the grave! You will not pass! Only Jews here,” Yogev said.
Meanwhile, the teenagers began playing drums and singing “Am Yisrael Hai” [the Jewish people lives].
“An Arab who curses Jews and disrespects the families of those who were murdered cannot pass freely on this road. Any Arab who documented [the attack] and did not help the injured is a full partner in the murder,” Yogev said after the incident.
Yogev also reportedly shouted at Jerusalem Post photographer Marc Israel Sellem, calling for police officers to arrest him, because he took pictures of the teenagers lighting memorial candles.
MK Itzik Shmuli (Zionist Union) called Yogev’s outburst a reminder that “there are crazies on both sides.”
“As if security forces don’t have enough work, now he goes up there with his stupid provocations and endangers people’s lives for a headline. Instead of increasing the tension with the whole population, hostile elements should be isolated,” Shmuli said.
Also on Tuesday, Yisrael Beytenu chairman Avigdor Liberman called for a boycott of Arab vendors on Hagai Street, because they did not help Adel Benita.
“These are not vendors, they are collaborators with terrorists who have lost their humanity,” Liberman wrote on Facebook.
“Whoever can act in such a way towards an injured woman cannot be called human. Therefore, I call on Israeli citizens to boycott the vendors on Hagai Street, not to enter their stores and not buy any items from them.”
Liberman also called on Tourism Minister Yariv Levin to instruct tourism companies and guides not to bring groups to the stores on that street.
“We do not do business with terrorists,” he added.
MK Esawi Frej (Meretz) called Liberman’s statements incitement to racism and said he plans to file a complaint to the Attorney-General’s Office.
“I suggest that instead of boycotting Israeli Arabs, citizens of Israel boycott Liberman and his dangerous racism. Liberman and his party continue to spread terror and bully Israeli democracy and Israeli Arabs with racist incitement,” he stated.