Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu went Wednesday to the street in the Jerusalem neighborhood of Armon Hanatziv where the rock was thrown earlier this week that caused the death of Alexander Levlovitz and declared “war” on those who throw rocks and petrol bombs.
“Here, in the heart of Jerusalem, at a traffic island on a main road, a thug and criminal stands here, on a traffic island, takes a rock and throws again and again at the windshields of cars of Jerusalem residents until he manages to cause death – it did not kill, it murdered,” Netanyahu said. “This stone is one too many. We are declaring war on those who throw stones and bottles, and rioters.”
The prime minister, who also went to the Metzudat Adumim Border Police base north of the capital, and to an IDF position on Road 443 to Jerusalem, which has been plagued in recent weeks by terrorist incidents, said the government will dramatically change its policy regarding those who throw rocks and firebombs.
“We are changing the policy,” he said. “The current situation is unacceptable to us.
We intend to give tools to the police and soldiers to act very aggressively against those who throw rocks and petrol bombs.”
Netanyahu’s tour of those sites followed an urgent meeting he held in his office Tuesday evening during which a number of proposals were raised, including setting a minimum punishment of five years in prison for rock-throwers, 10 years for those who throw petrol bombs and fines of up to NIS 100,000 for minors and their families, in an effort to create deterrence.
Netanyahu also said during his tour Wednesday that the open-fire regulations will be changed.
The Jerusalem Post has learned, however, that the changes to the rules of engagement are unlikely to be major or “reinventing the wheel,” and that they are likely to relate more to the police than the IDF.
“These phenomena are intolerable in the State of Israel, and I’m not just talking about the roads to Jerusalem or about Jerusalem itself, I am talking about the Galilee and the Negev as well,” the prime minister said.
Regarding the tension on the Temple Mount, Netanyahu said Israel supports “strictly maintaining the status quo” at the holy site, but that it is being breached by “inciters and rioters” who barricaded themselves on the site and harass Jewish visitors.
Terming this phenomenon also as “unacceptable,” Netanyahu said the government is dealing with the matter in cooperation and coordination with the Jordanians, “and not only them.”
Jordan’s King Abdullah II on Monday warned that the situation on the Temple Mount threatened Jordanian-Israeli ties.
Since that time, according to government sources, messages have been passed between Jerusalem and Amman to try to relieve the tension. One official said Jordan’s tough comments were likely meant both for domestic needs, as well as to show the Arab world that Jordan – currently the Arab representative on the UN Security Council – is taking the matter very seriously.
Meanwhile, the Knesset will hold an emergency meeting on Monday, during its recess, to discuss the escalation of violence in the capital.
Yesh Atid initiated the discussion, with backing from Zionist Union, Meretz and the Joint List.
“Rock-throwing and Molotov cocktails have become routine and this situation cannot continue anymore. We must bring security back to the residents,” Yesh Atid’s spokeswoman said.
“The State of Israel must use any means necessary to fight terrorism.”
A Joint List spokesman said the party’s MKs plan to speak out against “the escalation on the part of security forces and the government, the harm to the [al-Aksa] Mosque and intrusions by settlers.”
Monday’s meeting will also address the ongoing strike in Christian schools, whose representatives claim that they receive less funding than other schools.Lahav Harkov and Yonah Jeremy Bob contributed to this report.