Police plan on boosting their presence in Jerusalem and security forces may be given the okay to use live fire on Palestinian stone throwers, officials said Wednesday, as they grappled with how to stanch a spate of attacks in the capital and along a major artery running through the West Bank.
The police presence in Jerusalem is to be increased by hundreds of officers, and security personnel along a main access route to the capital will also be boosted, in response to Palestinian stoning attacks and other security incidents.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu held a meeting at his Jerusalem office Wednesday to review a recent uptick in attacks with Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon, Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan, Intelligence Minister Yisrael Katz, Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked, the head of the Shin Bet, and other security officials, the Prime Minister’s Office said on Wednesday.
“The policy is zero tolerance for stone-throwing and zero tolerance for terrorism,” Netanyahu asserted regarding stoning and firebomb incidents in Jerusalem as well as along Route 443, a major highway leading to the capital that has recently been the scene of several attacks.
Among the measures to be taken are the deployment of 400 additional officers and two companies of Border Police in Jerusalem. Along Route 443, intelligence and observation measures are to be increased and a plan to install lighting and security cameras along the length of the road is under consideration.
Route 443 is a main artery in the center of the country that leads to Jerusalem after dipping into the West Bank near the city of Modiin. It is used by many motorists traveling between the Tel Aviv area and the capital as an alternative to the often congested main highway, Route 1.
“Since the legal system is finding it difficult to deal with stone-throwing by minors, changing open-fire orders regarding the throwing of stones and firebombs will be examined, as will be the imposition – by law – of minimum sentences for those who throw stones and firebombs,” the Prime Minister’s Office said in a statement Wednesday.
Last Friday, a clumsy scuffle between an IDF soldier trying to detain a 12-year-old Palestinian boy in the West Bank and several women who attacked the soldier to prevent the arrest was captured on video and made headlines around the world. The soldier was lightly injured in the incident and the boy was allowed to go free.
During August, a spate of attacks including bombings, stabbings, car-ramming attacks, and stone-throwing incidents hit Jerusalem and the West Bank.
Last week a Border Police officer was lightly wounded in Jerusalem from smoke inhalation when a Molotov cocktail hurled by Palestinians at a police car started a fire in the vehicle. Earlier that day a Palestinian man stabbed and injured a Border Police officer outside Jerusalem’s Damascus Gate.
On August 20, an IDF soldier was injured after a bomb was thrown at a military post on the outskirts of Jerusalem and earlier the same day a toddler and her father were lightly wounded in a rock-throwing attack on Route 443 north of Jerusalem. According to police, the incident was the second time a car was hit with rocks on the highway that day. Both incidents saw damage caused to the vehicles, but only in the later one were passengers hurt.
Less than a week beforehand an IDF soldier was lightly wounded in a knife attack at a checkpoint on the same highway.
During August rocks were thrown at a light rail car as it passed by the Shuafat neighborhood in northern Jerusalem and a policeman was lightly injured in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Isawiyah when rock-throwing protesters clashed with Border Police forces.
Sporadic attacks against IDF soldiers and Border Police officers have increased in recent months.
In June, a border policeman was stabbed and seriously injured by a Palestinian at Damascus Gate.