Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu held a security assessment in Jerusalem prior to leaving for New York to attend the United Nations General Assembly, and ahead of the Jewish holy days in the Hebrew month of Tishrei.
Attending the meeting were Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan, Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat, Israel Policy Deputy Inspector General Zohar Dvir, Jerusalem District Police Commander Yoram Halevy, the deputy Director of the Israel Security Agency (Shin Bet domestic intelligence agency), an IDF representative and personnel from the National Security Council.
The prime minister ordered police to increase forces particularly in the Old City of Jerusalem and around the Temple Mount, underscoring that “determined action be taken against any attempt to violate order there,” according to his media adviser.
Netanyahu also requested that Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein take action to “continue to prevent parliamentarians and ministers from going up to the Temple Mount during this sensitive period,” his spokesperson said in a statement.
In addition, the prime minister “directed that activity be increased against Palestinian incitement on social networks, including expanded action vis-à-vis Facebook and other platforms, with the goal of removing inflammatory content. He also instructed that a response team be established to refute disinformation about Israeli policy on the Temple Mount.”
In addition, Netanyahu received an update on IDF operations and reinforcements along the roads and in the Jewish communities of Judea and Samaria.
Barely a few hours prior to the meeting, a terrorist from the Palestinian Authority stabbed and seriously wounded an IDF reservist at a guard post in the Judean city of Efrat, only eight minutes south of Jerusalem. The terrorist had infiltrated the community late Saturday night, and dozens of IDF soldiers, reservists and local security response personnel had spent the entire night searching the city and surrounding fields to track him down.
The attack came on the heels of a series of terrorist stabbings of IDF soldiers and other attacks against Israelis in Judea and Samaria, at least three of which took place in Hebron. In response, the IDF beefed up its forces in the holy city next to Kiryat Arba, but other Jewish communities are still vulnerable.
On Friday afternoon barely an hour before the start of the Sabbath, an Arab couple from the nearby town of Bani Naim carried out a vehicle ramming attack at the Elias Junction entrance to Kiryat Arba on Highway 60, next to the Paz gas station, at the bus stop and hitchhiking post. IDF soldiers stationed at the site shot and killed the male terrorist and wounded the female attacker; but three Israeli teenagers were injured and suffered major trauma as well. All three were treated for their relatively minor physical wounds and the major shock they endured.
Within hours, the IDF surrounded and sealed off Bani Naim, which also was home to the teenage terrorist who climbed in the window of the Kiryat Arba home of 13-year-old Hallel Ariel, z’l, at the start of this summer and stabbed her to death while she slept in her bed.
It’s not known how long the closure will last. But Arab villages have been sealed off before, and when the curfew is lifted, terrorists are free to leave and kill Israelis again, inspired and financially remunerated for their efforts by the government of the Palestinian Authority.
The prime minister is clearly hoping that beefed up police at the Temple Mount and in the Old City will contain, if not entirely eliminate Arab terror attacks while he is meeting with President Barack Obama in New York, and addressing the United Nations General Assembly: a gathering that for the most part could care less these days whether Israelis live or die.
It’s Netanyahu’s unenviable job to remind them of why they should care, if only for their own survival — and Israel’s — and the last thing he wants or needs is trouble at home by Knesset members who take the opportunity while he is away to create “a distraction.”
Hana Levi Julian