Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the IDF moved to clamp down on a possible escalation of Palestinian violence against Israelis after six attacks within 48 hours.
The latest attack took place at 6 a.m. Sunday, when a Palestinian assailant stabbed and moderately injured an IDF officer on the outskirts of the Efrat settlement in the Gush Etzion region of the West Bank. It followed stabbing attacks outside Jerusalem’s Damascus Gate and Hebron, a vehicular ramming incident on the outskirts of Kiryat Arba, and a stoning attack outside the Ma’aleh Adumim settlement.
Israeli politicians have blamed the violence on Palestinian incitement, while Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said the problem was that his people had lost any hope of a better future.
Netanyahu spoke about the weekend’s sudden uptick in terrorist attacks at the start of Sunday’s weekly cabinet meeting, noting that it is linked to the upcoming High Holy Days, a period that he said is always one of greater risk. He praised the IDF and police for quickly responding to the stabbing attacks.
Following the cabinet meeting he held security consultations about the situation with Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan, Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat, and top police, Shin Bet, and IDF officials.
According to the Prime Minister’s Office, Netanyahu directed the police to increase forces in Jerusalem, especially around the Old City and the Temple Mount, and to act with “determination” against any efforts to disturb the peace.
Netanyahu also called on Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein to continue to prevent MKs and ministers from visiting the Temple Mount, so as not to arouse passions at the site.
Netanyahu also called for the establishment of a response team to immediately dispel contrary information regarding Israel’s stated intentions on the Temple Mount. Last year’s wave of stabbing attacks began in October amid rumors circulating on social media and elsewhere that Israel was taking steps to undermine Muslim presence at the site.
The IDF has seen signs of a worsening of the security situation following a spate of terrorist attacks. It is concerned that incitement to violence, as well as incidents that could spur further attacks.
The October holidays could act as a further incentive for terrorists to strike, according to security assessments.
In addition to sending the Kfir infantry brigade’s Shimshon Battalion to the Judea territorial brigade to beef up personnel, soldiers have been deployed in high numbers around areas prone to attacks, with the goal of acting as a protective layer for civilians.
Abbas on Sunday attempted to distance the PA from the recent spate of terrorist attacks against Israelis, saying the perpetrators conducted such violence on their own initiative.
He described the lone-wolf attackers as “martyrs” and youth who “have lost hope.”
Without referring directly to this weekend’s spate of attacks, Abbas asserted that the PA condemns terrorism in all forms.
“Everyday we have martyrs, and youth who are carrying knives,” he said at a meeting with Palestinian students and graduates on Venezuela’s Margarita Island, where he is attending a summit of the Non- Aligned Movement.
“Do not believe those who say there is someone pushing them [the attackers] or inciting them,” he added. “They do this on their own initiative because they have lost hope and therefore go out with knives to carry out terrorist stabbings.”
While Abbas called for acts of “peaceful, popular resistance” against Israel, he said that “the hands of the Palestinians are extended for peace.”
Still, in the early hours of Sunday morning a young Palestinian man, identified by Maan News Agency as Baha al-Din Muhammad Khalil Odeh, 20, attempted to infiltrate the Efrat settlement.
That marked the first time since the wave of Palestinian violence against Israelis began last year that an attack has occurred on the edge of Efrat, even though repeated incidents have occurred at the nearby Gush Etzion junction.
Efrat’s security team had been on alert for hours prior to the attack after it saw a person wandering around 400 meters outside of the settlement and notified the IDF.
Eventually the Palestinian terrorist managed to get to the edge of the settlement and hide in the bushes. Around 6 a.m.
he jumped out and stabbed the officer in his upper body.
The soldier was transported to Jerusalem’s Hadassah Medical Center in Ein Kerem.
The settlement decided to hold school as usual, but the IDF barred Palestinians from entering.
On Saturday, a solider was stabbed while in the Tel Rumeida area of Hebron, just one day after a soldier had been stabbed and severely injured in the same area the day before. Both Palestinian assailants were killed.
Also on Friday, a Palestinian man and woman attempted a vehicular attack at the entrance of the Kiryat Arba settlement, located just outside Hebron.
The male assailant was killed and the female assailant was wounded and taken to the hospital. Three Israeli teenagers who were at the scene were lightly wounded.
On the same day, a Jordanian assailant was killed as he attempted to stab border police officers at the Damascus Gate in Jerusalem. Just outside of Jerusalem, Palestinians threw stones at a bus near the Ma’aleh Adumim settlement and lightly wounded the driver.