Yatom: Limit e. J'lem residents' freedom

MKs call for tightening of checkpoints and targeting Hamas in Gaza in response to J'lem terror attack.

Yatom 224.88 (photo credit: Courtesy)
Yatom 224.88
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Restricting the movement of east Jerusalem Arabs, tightening checkpoints in the West Bank and targeting Hamas terrorists in the Gaza Strip were among the suggestions made by Israel's political echelon this weekend following the terror attack which killed eight Mercaz Harav Yeshiva students in Jerusalem on Thursday night. MKs were quick to issue statements condemning the attack, which was carried out by Ala Abu Dhaim, a resident of the Jebl Mukaber neighborhood in east Jerusalem. However, without any details of Dhaim's motivations - both Hamas and a previously unknown group announced by Hizbullah TV, the Martyrs Imad Mughnieh claimed responsibility for the attack - most MKs refrained from demanding that the government take decisive action. Instead, they responded to the details that were available on the terrorist, as right-wing MKs called for Israel to reexamine its relationship with the more than 1 million Israeli Arabs living in the country, while left-wing MKs urged that the government restrain itself from lashing out at east Jerusalem residents. MK Danny Yatom (Labor) said that the government should consider dividing Jerusalem, if nothing else than for the sake of isolating east Jerusalem residents and stopping them from reaching the largely Jewish western portion of the city. Yatom's party, the only left-wing member of Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's coalition, had previously said that dividing Jerusalem would help in the peace process by acceding to the Palestinians' demands that the largely Arab portions of the city be added to the West Bank. "We couldn't have prevented an attack in which the attacker originates from Israel because in east Jerusalem there are Palestinians with blue identity cards who can move about freely. How many more attacks will we need to go through in order to understand that this freedom of movement is dangerous?" asked Yatom. "(Israeli-Arabs) can get to any town in Israel. We must ensure some sort of supervision so those who live in east Jerusalem and have blue identity cards can't cross into Israel without regulation and monitoring." About 250,000 Palestinians live in east Jerusalem. The gunman had a blue ID allowing him freedom of movement within Israel. Yatom also said that he was against a broad ground offensive in the Gaza Strip, an operation that several MKs raised last week. "A broad offensive in the Gaza Strip won't succeed in crushing Hamas. We must continue IDF activities as is being done today, that is to say, pinpoint strikes and a 'security area' larger than the one today should be demarcated. That way, whoever enters into it will be killed," said Yatom. He also mentioned the rally that took place last week in Umm el-Fahm in which a hundreds of Israeli Arabs protested the ongoing Israeli operations in which more than 120 Palestinians were killed in Gaza. Right-wing MKs held a special Knesset session last week to condemn the rally, arguing with Arab MKs Ahmed Tibi (United Arab List) and MK Jamal Zahalka (Balad) who spoke at the gathering. Israel Beiteinu Chairman Avigdor Lieberman, who led the special session, slammed the Knesset's Arab factions, blaming last week's terror attack on "the incitement from Arab MKs." Lieberman said that "in light of the incitement of Israeli Arabs" he was not surprised that Dhaim was from east Jerusalem and held an Israeli identification card. "Whoever called the IDF activity aimed at protecting the southern communities 'war crimes,' and whoever incites and burns the Israeli flag in Umm el-Fahm cannot shirk from the responsibility for the criminal attack in Jerusalem," he said.