Security cabinet relaxes open-fire rules, stiffens penalties against rock throwers

Measures include police use of the low-powered Ruger sniper rifle in Jerusalem

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September 24, 2015 21:01
3 minute read.
BORDER POLICEMEN fire tear gas at rock-throwers in the Shuafat refugee camp

BORDER POLICEMEN fire tear gas at rock-throwers in the Shuafat refugee camp in northeastern Jerusalem on Friday. (photo credit: REUTERS)

 
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The security cabinet approved a short menu of tougher steps against rock and firebomb-throwers on Thursday, including the easing of open-fire regulations.

The unanimous decision of the 10-member security cabinet was taken after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu held a number of high-level consultations over the past month with security and legal officials looking for ways to combat the wave of violence in Jerusalem and rock and gasoline-bomb attacks on the roads to the capital and beyond the Green Line, and over some objections voiced during these meetings by Attorney-General Yehuda Weinstein.

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Speaking after the meeting was decided that a minimum four-year prison sentence will be imposed on those over the age of 18 caught throwing deadly objects. In addition, minimum fines and punishments will be set for minors, he said.

“We intend to change the norm that has taken root here where it is possible to throw lethal and murderous objects in Israel without an answer or impediment. This will change,” he said.

The security cabinet decision includes taking measures to punish minors ages 14-17 with jail sentences and fines on their parents, as well as taking away National Insurance Institute benefits for minors in jail.

Likewise, it was decided to look into whether it was legally possible to impose minimum fines on parents of minors aged 12-13, and to have parents of children under the age of 12 post bonds for a year to secure their children’s release.

Even as the security cabinet was formulating its new policies, the Jerusalem Police’s 10-day crackdown on rockand firebomb-throwing Palestinians netted 137 arrests in the eastern portion of the capital by Thursday, as security preparations were finalized for coinciding Muslim and Jewish holidays.

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The massive sweep – undertaken ahead of Succot and Id al-Adha, lasting from Thursday to Tuesday – follows chronic rioting after the Defense Ministry banned two radical Muslim groups from the Temple Mount earlier this month.

The latest riots took place over Yom Kippur in the capital’s Beit Hanina, Pisgat Ze’ev and Talpiot neighborhoods, police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said, although no arrests were made and no injuries were reported.

The most recent arrests were made overnight Wednesday, when 13 suspects were apprehended in the Arab neighborhoods of Silwan, Ras al-Amud, Isawiya, Shuafat and E-Tur, he said.

Of the 137 suspects arrested, Rosenfeld said 76 are adults, while the remaining 61 are minors as young as 14.

“Police will continue operations and find suspects involved in disturbances over the last few days in different neighborhoods of the capital,” he said.

Additionally, Rosenfeld said security has been markedly heightened in the Old City for Id al-Adha, which often involves the slaughter of sheep for consumption at celebratory meals.

In an effort to ease tensions, the Defense Ministry said that no age restrictions will be applied on entry to the Temple Mount for Muslims with Israeli identification cards, while married Palestinian men from the West Bank aged 45 and older will be allowed to enter, as will all females.

“We completed security measures in order to prevent further incidents in Jerusalem and the Old City for the Muslim festival of Id al-Adha, with an emphasis in and around different Arab neighborhoods,” Rosenfeld said.

“Security arrangements have been made to allow thousands of Muslims go to the Temple Mount, with extra units in the Old City to patrol all activity.”

Jewish visitors will be barred from the holy site during the Muslim holiday.

In the meantime, Rosenfeld said security preparations for Succot have also been finalized.

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