Israel to fast-track demolitions of Palestinian homes, Netanyahu says

The decision was made at the conclusion of an emergency cabinet meeting in Jerusalem.

By DANA SOMBERG,
October 6, 2015 03:35
IDF troops bomb the family home of a Palestinian suicide bomber in Bethlehem

IDF troops bomb the family home of a Palestinian suicide bomber in the Aida refugee camp in Bethlehem. (photo credit: REUTERS)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu instructed his justice minister, Ayelet Shaked, to form a committee whose mandate will be to legally expedite the razing of homes belonging to Palestinians who perpetrate acts of violence against Israelis, it was announced late Monday night.

The decision was made at the conclusion of an emergency cabinet meeting whose aim was to discuss the government's response to the escalating riots in Jerusalem and the Palestinian territories.

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Home demolitions is just one of a series of steps the government resolved to take late Monday. Israel will boost the number of soldiers and police in the territories if and when the need arises.

The authorities also will deploy thousands more police officers in Jerusalem. According to a statement issued by the Prime Minister's Office, the police will have latitude to quell rioting even if it means entering the heart of Arab neighborhoods in the eastern part of the capital.

"Nobody will have immunity, anywhere," Netanyahu said.

The premier emphasized that Israel intends to preserve the status quo on Temple Mount - a statement meant to convey to Jordan that there are no plans to permit Jews to enter the complex for worship.

Israel will also advance plans to pave roadways meant to serve as detours around high-friction areas in the Palestinian territories. Rioters will also be subjected to administrative detention, the cabinet said.

The prime minister demanded action against those engaged in incitement to violence on social media. He also called for the arrest and prosecution of store owners in the Jerusalem's Old City who witnessed the stabbing attack that left two ultra-Orthodox Jews dead on Saturday evening.

"We will not accept a situation where a Jewish woman is stabbed and not only do people not bother to help her but they also curse her and kick her," Netanyahu said. "We will prosecute them to the full extent of the law."

The cabinet also discussed expediting the process of levying fines against the parents of minors who throw stones and Molotov cocktails.

"This evening, we approved stringent measures against terrorism by using a variety of means," Netanyahu said. "We will continue to do whatever is necessary. Let us be clear - we will defeat terrorism just as we have done in the past."

Netanyahu convened an emergency meeting of the security cabinet Monday evening to approve a series of steps aimed at tamping down the spike in violence and providing Israelis with a greater sense of security.

The meeting came as voices were raised on the right – including from Education Minister Naftali Bennett – for the government to drastically ratchet up steps to counter the surge in terrorism and to build in the settlements as a response to the terror.

The calls for increased building in the settlements is likely to be a bone of contention within the government, as Netanyahu is expected to be reticent, concerned about the ramifications this would have for Israel in the international community.

In a symbolic step aimed at sending a message to the right, Netanyahu called into his residence before the security cabinet meeting Kiryat Arba Local Council head Malachi Levinger and Samaria Regional Council head Yossi Dagan. The two were camped out at the protest tent that was set up outside his residence.

According to a statement put out by his office, Netanyahu said that the government was acting firmly and has taken “unprecedented action” to ensure the security of the Jewish residents of Judea and Samaria.

“This is a difficult struggle, but we will win it,” he told the settlement leaders, just an hour before a protest against the deteriorating security situation in the territories was held outside his residence.

Dagan, on his Facebook page, said that he and Levinger presented Netanyahu with their demands regarding security and construction. "Unfortunately we have not yet reached agreement," he said.

On Sunday, immediately after Netanyahu returned from his trip to the US to address the UN, the prime minister convened a meeting of the the country's top security officials where a list of steps were drawn up which he said were aimed at “deterring and punishing” the the terrorists.

These steps included “expediting the demolition of terrorists' homes, expanding administrative detentions of rioters, and banning those engaged in incitement from the Old City and the Temple Mount."

Before Monday evening’s security cabinet meeting, Netanyahu praised the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) for arresting the terrorists responsible for the murder of Rabbi Eitam and Naama Henkin.

“We are acting with a strong hand against terrorism and against inciters,” he said. “We are operating on all fronts.”

Netanyahu said that four additional IDF battalions have been moved into Judea and Samaria, and thousands of police into Jerusalem to deal with the spike in violence there.

“The police are going deeply into the Arab neighborhoods [in Jerusalem], which has not been done in the past,” he said. “We will demolish terrorists' homes. We are allowing our forces to take strong action against those who throw rocks and firebombs. This is necessary in order to safeguard the security of Israeli citizens on the roads and everywhere.”

Netanyahu said Israel was “not prepared to give immunity to any rioter, inciter or terrorist anywhere; therefore, there are no restrictions on the action of our security forces.”

He also said Israel would “lift restrictions regarding action against inciters,” and “act against the Islamic Movement which, together with Hamas and the Palestinian Authority, is the main source of incitement.”

“We are in a difficult struggle but one thing should be clear – we will win,” he said. “Just as we defeated previous waves of terrorism, we will defeat this one as well."

Before the meeting, Netanyahu visited Adel Banita-Bennett and her toddler son, who were wounded in the Jerusalem stabbing attack in the Jerusalem's Old City on Saturday, at Hadassah University Medical Center, Ein Kerem. Banita-Bennett’s husband Aharon and another man, Nehemia Lavi, were killed in that attack. 

Netanyahu also went to Shaare Zedek Medical Center to visit Moshe Malka, who was stabbed at a gas station near Jerusalem's Old City on Sunday morning.


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