On the heels of a violent weekend rampage, culminating in the Sunday arrest of a terrorist who drove his vehicle into four Border Police officers in east Jerusalem’s E-Tur hours earlier, the Public Security Ministry announced the deployment of 500 police reinforcements to the capital.
While visiting the four wounded officers at Shaare Zedek Medical Center Sunday afternoon, Public Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch conceded that the spike in violence necessitates more police officers on the streets.
“You cannot stop the lone terrorist who decides to carry out such attacks,” he said. “We have added some 500 officers to patrols in Jerusalem in recent days.”
According to Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld, the extra police officers will come from multiple units and be deployed in flashpoint Arab neighborhoods, including E-Tur and Shuafat.
Fadi Saleh, a 31-year-old from the Shuafat refugee camp, was arrested early Sunday morning after abandoning his vehicle a few hundred meters from the scene of the attack that left one female officer in moderate- to-serious condition and three male officers lightly wounded.
Saleh’s attack followed two separate Saturday Palestinian knife attacks on Border Police officers stationed at West Bank checkpoints.
In Hebron, a Palestinian was shot dead after stabbing an officer in the head and chest near the Cave of the Patriarchs, police said. The officer was rushed to Shaare Zedek Medical Center in Jerusalem, where he was listed in stable condition.
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Hours earlier, 17-year-old Palestinian Ali Abu Ghannam attacked border policemen with a cleaver at a checkpoint near Ma’aleh Adumim and then fled, with troops giving chase and firing warning shots in the air, police said.
Reaching a second checkpoint, Abu Ghannam drew another knife and ran toward security guards there. He was killed by police gunfire after ignoring their warnings to stop, police said.
Several hours after Abu Ghannam’s death, a riot erupted in E-Tur, resulting in one lightly wounded police officer and reports of up to 20 Arab injuries, although no arrests were made.
In a statement on Saturday night, the Palestinian Authority condemned the killing of Abu Ghannam and dismissed charges that he had tried to stab soldiers.
“This crime proves the cruelty and criminality of the occupation against the defenseless Palestinian people,” it said.
The PA went on to accuse the Israeli authorities of “creating unfounded justifications for carrying out its crimes.”
The PA Foreign Ministry condemned the killing of Abu Ghannam as a “crime against humanity,” noting that it will add the case to Israeli war crimes that would be brought before the International Criminal Court.
Meanwhile, Sultan Abu el-Ainain, a member of the Fatah Central Committee, said Israel would pay a price for the killing of the youth.
“Our people wouldn’t receive the killers with roses,” he said. “Palestinian blood won’t remain forever a cost for Israeli adventures.”
Asked what he attributed the recent rise in violence to, Meretz City Councilman Dr. Meir Margalit, who holds the east Jerusalem municipal portfolio, cited ongoing Arab “humiliation and frustration.”
“We have to put what’s happening into a broader context,” said Margalit on Sunday.
“The main problem is that after last summer’s uprising, no one in the municipality really asked for the real reasons [behind it]. The interpretation was very superficial: They said it was a matter of hooliganism.
“The main reason for the violence is the humiliation and frustration Palestinians – especially the young generation – feel every day, that no one does anything about,” he continued.
Adding more police to patrol Arab neighborhoods, Margalit said, is the equivalent of putting a Band-Aid on a major gash.
“The police can stop it for a while, but sooner or later the violence will rise again,” he said. “The police are not the solution, they are part of the problem.”
Despite Margalit’s assertion of heavy-handedness, relative calm was restored in the capital for several months upon Aharonovitch’s emergency deployment of 1,000 extra Border Police officers to put an end to last summer’s chronic rioting.
The measure also resulted in a record number of Arab arrests.
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