PM visits Central Command on W. Bank violence

IDF Chief of Staff Gantz briefs Netanyahu, Barak over escalation of Palestinian violence in east Jerusalem, West Bank.

Netanyahu, Barak, Gantz 370 (photo credit: Koby Gideon/GPO)
Netanyahu, Barak, Gantz 370
(photo credit: Koby Gideon/GPO)
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu visited the IDF’s Central Command on Sunday along with Defense Minister Ehud Barak for a briefing on the situation in the West Bank from Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Benny Gantz, OC Central Command Maj.- Gen. Nitzan Alon and senior IDF officers.
The visit stems from an escalation of Palestinian violence in east Jerusalem and the West Bank in recent weeks.
On Sunday, an Arab taxi driver rammed his car into a vehicle exiting a police station in the Jerusalem neighborhood of Jebl Mukaber, injuring a Border Police officer and an east Jerusalem resident in what police said looked like a nationalistically motivated incident.
The suspect, who lives in Jebl Mukaber and has a police record for “minor security offences,” allegedly tried to drive into the Oz police station.
After he was denied entry, the driver allegedly rammed his car into a vehicle that was just exiting the station.
A Border Police officer approached the taxi and asked to speak with the driver, at which point the driver allegedly ran his car into the officer, lightly injuring him in the leg.
Three police officers who witnessed the incident fired at the taxi, lightly injuring the driver.
MDA paramedics treated both men on the scene before evacuating them to Hadassah University Medical Center in Jerusalem’s Ein Kerem neighborhood.
Jerusalem Police spokesman Shmuel Ben-Ruby said that the suspect was not a member of an armed organization. Police said that an initial investigation suggested that the incident was nationalistically motivated.
“I went crazy; I wanted to go into the police station,” the suspect told police. He also reportedly said that he wanted to die, according to Ben-Ruby.
According to a report in London’s Sunday Times, Netanyahu recently received a warning from Military Intelligence, supported by the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency), that Hamas head Khaled Mashaal had instructed his terrorist group’s sleeper cells in the West Bank to prepare to take over the area, just as they took over the Gaza Strip in 2007.
The newspaper cited the Military Intelligence as saying that Iran was behind the move in an effort to create a third source of pressure — in addition to Hezbollah in Lebanon and Hamas in Gaza — in case of an Israel attack on Iran.
The Prime Minister’s Office did not comment on the report.
During his visit to the IDF Central Command, Netanyahu said that he went there to get a briefing on the developments in the area.
“Our goal is to maintain the security of Israeli citizens in the settlements, and – of course – in the entire country. We are aware of an increase in activity, and I want to get an exact briefing. We must act here, as on other fronts, to ensure the country’s security, and that is what we are doing,” he said.
Earlier, Netanyahu held a special discussion on the lessons of Operation Pillar of Defense together with the main agencies dealing with the home front.
Among the issues discussed were improving bomb shelters, integrating warning systems, reinforcing essential facilities and upgrading command and control systems.
The home front agencies “performed very successfully during the operation,” Netanyahu said, adding that it “saved the lives of many citizens, and allowed daily life and vital services to be maintained in a situation of prolonged missile fire.”
Netanyahu said that since the home front is “one of the main fronts in any security scenario,” the government will “continue to invest in it.”
During Sunday’s cabinet meeting, the government unanimously approved a supplemental allocation of NIS 9.5 million to assist those in the South – particularly immigrants and the elderly – impacted by last month’s Gaza operation.