Israeli security forces stand guard in front of the Damascus Gate near the Old City of Jerusalem.
(photo credit: AFP PHOTO)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu approved a massive mobilization of 13 reserve Border Police companies over the weekend in an effort to put an end to the ongoing wave of terrorist attacks throughout the country.
According to the Prime Minister’s Office, three Border Police companies were called up in recent days and deployed in Jerusalem, and during security consultations over the weekend Netanyahu approved the mobilization of another 13.
Along with Jerusalem, these forces are expected to be deployed in and around Arab cities inside the Green Line, as well as in mixed Israeli-Arab towns where there has been rioting in recent days.
“I directed the mobilization of the Border Police companies to restore security and order to Jerusalem and other parts of the country,” Netanyahu said at the meeting, adding that other units will be mobilized when necessary.
According to the PMO, the increased security presence is meant to thwart attacks, act as a deterrence against others and ensure order on the streets.
The PMO also said Netanyahu will convene an “emergency meeting” on Sunday to discuss measures to take against the Muslim Brotherhood and Israel’s Islamic Movement, which he has blamed as the main element behind the incitement fueling the violence.
At a press conference on Thursday, Netanyahu supported declaring the Islamic Movement an illegal organization. “We are conducting exhaustive and meaningful discussions into the question of outlawing them,” he said. “There is no question that we will take strong action against them.”
On Saturday, the PMO said the Defense Ministry is drawing up a list of steps to be taken against the group.
This is not the first time such a discussion has been held, with Netanyahu saying at a cabinet discussion in May 2014 that the northern branch of the Islamic Movement, headed by Sheikh Ra’ad Salah, should be outlawed. The move, at that time, faced opposition from the Justice Ministry.
Transportation Minister Israel Katz said on Channel 2 Saturday night that the Northern Branch of the Islamic Movement is the focus of incitement fueling the current violence.
“I hope that a decision will be made in the coming days to outlaw Sheikh Ra’ad Salah and the Northern Branch of the Islamic Movement, because they are the main inciters who have established a “start-up” over the last 25 years saying we want to destroy al-Aksa, that al-Aksa is in danger.”
This libel, he said, has been accepted in many parts of the Muslim world by people who now believe that Israel wants to destroy al-Aksa Mosque.
In a related development, Netanyahu spoke Friday with US Secretary of State John Kerry, and said he expects the Palestinian Authority to end the “wild and lying incitement” that is behind the current wave of terrorism.
According to the PMO, Kerry said Washington is aware that Israel’s policy is to maintain the status quo on the Temple Mount.
One government source said other diplomatic efforts were under way to try and quell the violence, but would not elaborate.
Channel 2 reported Friday night that a delegation from the Prime Minister’s Office went to Ramallah to speak with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas about the matter. Kerry also spoke to Abbas on Friday.
In another development, a delegation representing the Middle East Quartet – the US, EU, Russia and the UN – is expected to arrive on Wednesday and hold discussions with both sides both about calming the situation and kick-starting a diplomatic process.