In the wake of Friday’s deadly terror attack in Jerusalem, members of the opposition on Saturday criticized Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s handling of the conflict with the Palestinians, and urged the government to work toward a two-state solution in order to allow Israel to better defend itself.
“We are in the midst of a terror wave that we’re not really noticing, but sporadic terror incidents are happening on a daily basis,” said Zionist Union leader Isaac Herzog, speaking in Ramat Yishai in northern Israel.
“In the end, the question is if we can change the reality,” Herzog said. “Even in these difficult days we need to think above the fray, and take advantage of historical opportunities to separate from the Palestinians.”
Meanwhile, fellow Zionist Union MK Omer Bar Lev accused Netanyahu of failing to take the actions necessary to thwart terrorist attacks, and asserted that the Israeli leadership was not acting in the best interest of its citizens. “The government is abandoning the residents of Israel out of total surrender to the [Jewish West Bank] settlers,” he said during an event in the central Israeli city of Rehovot. “The right-wing government is not doing everything possible to prevent such attacks.”
Zehava Galon, head of the left-wing Meretz party, charged that the prime minister had no concrete plan on how to address Palestinian terrorism. “Prime Minister Netanyahu has no solution to the reality of the terrorist attacks in Jerusalem,” Galon said. “His conception that it is possible to ‘manage the conflict’ with the Palestinians on a low flame has collapsed time and time again. Fifty years of control over millions of people and we see that this flame is sitting on a barrel of explosives, and the price is heavy.”
Friday’s attack saw three Palestinians armed with an automatic weapon and knives carry out near simultaneous assaults at two adjacent locations before they were shot and killed. The three attackers were shot dead in the course of the attacks.
Staff Sergeant Hadas Malka, 23, was critically injured when she was stabbed on Sultan Suleiman Street near Damascus Gate. She was transferred to Hadassah Hospital Mount Scopus in Jerusalem where she underwent emergency surgery but later succumbed to her injuries.
At least four more people were injured in the attacks, including another cop. They all sustained light to moderate wounds and were being treated in hospital.
The Shin Bet security service named the three assailants as Adel Ankush, 18, Bra’a Saleh Atta, 19, and Usama Ahmed Atta, 19, all from the West Bank village of Deir Abu-Mash’al near Ramallah.
All three had been arrested for or involved in “popular terror activity,” a Shin Bet statement read.
The attack was carried out by “two Palestinians from the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine and a third from Hamas,” Hamas said early Saturday, dismissing a claim of responsibility by Islamic State.
Israeli officials cast doubt on both claims, saying there was no indication of IS involvement, and that the attack did not appear to have been directed by any group.
Since September 2015, mainly Palestinian assailants have killed 43 Israelis, two visiting Americans and a British student, mainly in stabbing, shooting and vehicular attacks. In that time, some 250 Palestinians were killed by Israeli fire, a majority of them attackers, according to authorities.
Israel has blamed the terrorism and violence on incitement by Palestinian political and religious leaders compounded on social media sites that glorify violence and encourage attacks.
Hamas praised Friday’s attack, saying in a statement Friday evening that “the attack in Jerusalem is new proof that the Palestinian people continue their revolution against the occupiers and that the intifada will continue until complete freedom is achieved.”
Agencies contributed to this report.