Netanyahu promises to crack down on Jerusalem riots
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Netanyahu promises to crack down on Jerusalem riots

At weekly cabinet meeting, prime minister blames uptick in violence on Islamic extremists, and promises to end unrest

Lazar Berman is a former breaking news editor at The Times of Israel.

Israeli police shoot tear gas to disperse Palestinian youths throwing rocks in East Jerusalem, on October 24, 2014. (Photo credit: Sliman Khader/Flash90)
Israeli police shoot tear gas to disperse Palestinian youths throwing rocks in East Jerusalem, on October 24, 2014. (Photo credit: Sliman Khader/Flash90)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu blamed riots in Jerusalem on “Islamic extremists” and promised Sunday to restore order, as police braced for renewed unrest in the capital Sunday evening.

Netanyahu said Jerusalem would be reinforced with some 1,000 policemen, special forces and troops from the Border Police gendarme force, as days of violent protests gave way to fears that a funeral for a slain terrorist would lead to more riots.

“We cannot allow a situation to emerge in which people are hurling stones, throwing Molotov cocktails and disturbing the peace,” Netanyahu said at the start of the weekly cabinet meeting Sunday. “This isn’t coincidental. There are Islamic extremist elements that are trying to ignite Israel’s capital, and we will operate with all the force needed, with determination and responsibility, so they won’t succeed. I expect here the full support from all Israeli citizens in order to protect Israel’s capital.”

After a weekend of clashes in East Jerusalem between Palestinian protesters and Israeli forces, there were reports of scattered incidents Sunday morning.

Police deployed “at least 400-500” extra police “to prevent and respond to any incident,” police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said Sunday.

The head of the police operations unit said Saturday that 2,000 troops would be maintained in the capital, with 1,000 tasked with quelling the unrest, website NRG reported.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu leads the weekly cabinet meeting in Jerusalem on October 22, 2014. (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem/POOL/Flash90)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu leads the weekly cabinet meeting in Jerusalem on October 22, 2014. (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem/POOL/Flash90)

At least five Palestinians were arrested during clashes overnight Saturday in East Jerusalem, according to police.

The clashes were especially intense in the flashpoint Silwan neighborhood, where police dispersed gangs of stone-throwing protesters.

There were also reports of assailants throwing stones Sunday at the Jerusalem light rail in the East Jerusalem neighborhoods of Beit Hanina and Shuafat, causing damage to the train, but no injuries.

Rioting intensified last week after Abdel Rahman al-Shaludi drove his car into a Jerusalem light rail station on Wednesday, killing three-month-old Chaya Zissel Braun and injuring eight others. Police shot and killed Shaludi as he attempted to flee the scene on foot.

A poster honoring Abdel Rahman Al-Shaludi issued by Fatah, October 23, 2014 (photo credit: Fatah Facebook page)
A poster honoring Abdel Rahman Al-Shaludi issued by Fatah, October 23, 2014 (photo credit: Fatah Facebook page)

Shaludi, a Hamas member from Silwan, was originally set to be buried at a Muslim cemetery near the Old City’s Lions’ Gate at 10 p.m. Saturday after a court authorized a service to be attended by a maximum of 80 people, for fear the event could turn into a violent protest.

However, police postponed the burial and rescheduled it Sunday for a time window between 11:00 p.m. and midnight with only 20 mourners, whose names would have to be submitted to police in advance, in attendance.

An autopsy by Palestinian investigators contended that Shaludi died because he was not given medical care and transferred to a hospital quickly enough, according to Mohammed Mahmud, the family’s attorney.

His family have threatened to postpone the funeral until restrictions on the funeral are lifted.

A Palestinian protester burns a tire during clashes with Israeli security officers in the Issawiya district of Arab east Jerusalem on October 24, 2014. (Photo credit: AFP / AHMAD GHARABLI)
A Palestinian protester burns a tire during clashes with Israeli security officers in the Issawiya district of Arab east Jerusalem on October 24, 2014. (Photo credit: AFP / AHMAD GHARABLI)

The terror attack came amid already heightened tensions in the capital, as violent protests on the Temple Mount and several East Jerusalem locales seemed to intensify over past months.

In an interview Thursday, Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat said the violence had become intolerable, and vowed to restore order.

Hamas official Mahmoud Al-Zahar urged Palestinians in East Jerusalem on Saturday to rise up against Israel and continue “resisting.”

On Friday, a Palestinian teenager, a US citizen, was shot and killed by IDF troops in the West Bank village of Silwad. His funeral was also set for Sunday, in order to allow his father time to travel from the United States where he is a resident citizen.

Hamas had called to avenge the killing of 14-year-old Orwa Abed El Wahan Hammad Wahab, who was shot by IDF troops. The army said he was shot during an attempt to hurl a Molotov cocktail at traffic on Highway 60, in the West Bank.

Another 12 Palestinians were wounded in clashes on Friday in Issawiya Wadi Joz and Silwan, a hospital official said on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak with the media.

Prison Service Commissioner Aharon Franco, who was formerly the head of police’s Jerusalem District, told Ynet the recent uptick in violence in the city could not be quelled by force alone.

Chaya Zissel Braun, a 3-month-old baby killed in a terrorist attack in Jerusalem on October 22, 2014 (Channel 2 Screenshot)
Chaya Zissel Braun, a 3-month-old baby killed in a terrorist attack in Jerusalem on October 22, 2014 (Channel 2 Screenshot)

Tensions have been high since June, when three Israeli teenagers were kidnapped and killed by Palestinian terrorists in the West Bank. Jewish extremists retaliated by kidnapping and killing a Palestinian teenager in east Jerusalem, sparking riots. The kidnappings set off a series of events that led to the 50-day Gaza war.

Times of Israel staff and news agencies contributed to this report.

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