Armed man arrested at Cave of Patriarchs

Police focus weekend’s J’lem stabbing probe on village of Beit Iksa; security officials deny attacks signify new wave of terror.

cave of the patriarchs 311 (photo credit: Courtesy)
cave of the patriarchs 311
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Police denied a renewal of terror attacks as being part of a greater struggle amid another attempted stabbing attack near the Cave of the Patriarchs in Hebron on Sunday, the third stabbing incident in five days.
In the most recent incident, a Palestinian armed with a 14- centimeter-long knife was arrested by Border Police, who took the suspect into custody for questioning, said he had intended to launch a knife attack on Israelis on the site.
Police continued their investigation into the stabbing of 17- year-old Jewish resident of the Jerusalem neighborhood Ramot on Saturday. Based on eyewitness accounts, after the suspect stabbed Yehuda Ne’emad, who was sitting on the street with a friend, the suspect fled into the wadi toward the neighboring Arab village of Beit Iksa.
Ne’emad was in moderate condition on Sunday, after being evacuated to the hospital from the site of the attack in serious condition. His sister, Yael Nikar, told Army Radio it was “miraculous” Ne’emad had not been stabbed to death.
Last Wednesday, a Palestinian woman was arrested at the Gush Etzion Junction after charging a group of soldiers and civilians waiting at a bus stop and brandishing a knife while yelling “Death to Jews!” There were no injuries.
A defense source said the security establishment was not viewing the recent stabbing attempts and incident as a coordinated wave of attacks.
“They’re not planned or directly related,” the source said Sunday.
Police Spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said police stepped up Border Police patrols throughout Jerusalem following the stabbing attack Saturday, adding that with the first day of school after the holidays police are “taking no chances whatsoever.”
Rosenfeld concurred with the evaluation by the security source, saying that police don’t fear any sort of wave of knife attacks, saying they believe that both the stabbing Saturday and the arrest of the Palestinian at the Cave of the Patriarchs on Sunday were sporadic, unrelated incidents.
Ramot residents disagreed, saying that while they supported the release of Gilad Schalit, they felt like they were paying the price of the release of the prisoners in their own neighborhood.
“We’re very afraid, my children couldn’t sleep all night,” said Tami Hellerman, a Ramot resident and mother of four.
“There’s no security, no fence, and no nothing. All the time Arabs are coming up into the neighborhood and there are thefts and break-ins,” she said.
“I’m happy with [Schalit’s] release, it was very exciting, but if they said we can deal with the release of the prisoners, if the head of the Shin Bet [Israel Security Agency] Yoram Cohen said we can handle it, then he needs to stop attacks like these,” she added. Other parents said they were advising their children not to play outside.
The village of Beit Iksa has a complicated history with the security fence. Since 2003, it has flip-flopped back and forth between being included on the Jerusalem side of the fence or the West Bank side of the fence, despite the fact that most of the Beit Iksa residents identify more strongly with the West Bank, said Shaul Arieli, an expert in Jerusalem borders who was involved in peace negotiations under the Rabin and Barak governments.
Currently, there is no security fence separating Beit Iksa from Ramot or Highway 1. Future plans for the security barrier call for a fence that completely surrounds Beit Iksa but allows residents to access the Kalandiya checkpoint via tunnels that are separated from the road leading from Ramot to Givat Ze’ev.