One day after three young Arab rioters have been killed in confrontations with the security forces, clashes resumed in east Jerusalem Saturday evening as hundreds of Arabs are confronting police officers at the Lion’s Gate. In A-Tur, several masked men threw stones at police. Near the Mount of Olives Arabs pelted police with stones and glass bottles. In Issawiya, near Hadassah Medical Center, a few young Arabs threw stones and rolled a burning tire onto the highway. A police officer was injured and received medical attention. And at the Shuafat crossing dozens of rioters threw stones at the police.
These and many more local incidents peppered the Shabbat experience in Jerusalem, around a very clear narrative: the Israeli government insists that it is its obligation to employ metal detectors at the entrance to the Temple Mount compound, following the murder of two Israeli officers a week ago by three armed Arabs – while the Arab mob, egged on by Palestinian Authority officials all the way to the top, religious leaders, again all the way to the top, and Arab rulers from around the Middle East, insist that they would throw violent tantrums until Israel says uncle.
But while the Police have been exemplary in their professional handling of the volatile situation, minimizing casualties – save for the bloodthirsty Arab attack on a Jewish family that sat down to a Friday night dinner to celebrate the birth of a grandson – Maj. Gen. Yoav Mordechai, the IDF’s Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT), has been running around from one reporter to the next, foreign and domestic, explaining how Israel is mulling alternatives to those distasteful metal detector which, apparently, represent to the Arabs the fact that Israel is in charge in Jerusalem.
Netanyahu should include more PA representatives in his security cabinet meetings…
“We’re willing to examine alternatives to the metal detectors as long as the solution of alternative ensures the prevention of the next attack,” Maj. Gen. Mordechai, said Saturday. He told the media he was “willing to accept another solution if it restores security.”
Almost since the beginning of the dispute over the metal detectors, the Shin Bet, Israel’s clandestine security service, advocated strongly in favor of removing them, or, in other words, teaching the Arab population in and out of the green-line that the only language Israel understands is force.
Now COGAT adds his voice to the chorus that objects to the Israeli police’s well thought out, firm and brave view that criminals must be confronted, not cuddled.
The fact is that the only difference between the riots on Friday and Saturday and the rest of the year is that the news media usually don’t bother to report those riotous attacks, but they go on every day, alongside highways, at crossings, in refugee camps. Police and the IDF know their job and have done it well, most of the time, throughout the past year. Removing the metal detectors at this time would cut them at the knee. Which may be what the Shin Bet and COGAT are after.
The narrative is simple: if the Arabs don’t manage to force Israel to remove the metal detectors at the gate it reinforces the notion of Israeli sovereignty in all of Jerusalem. If Israel recoils from the challenge it will count as an admission of weakness and set a terrible precedence.
It’s the stuff that can topple a government, and Prime Minister Netanyahu knows it. If he doesn’t, his ever vigilant competitor on the right Naftali Bennett will surely remind him.