Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman approved on Saturday the publication of a tender to build 42 additional homes in the West Bank settlement of Kiryat Arba.
According to Channel 10, the tender was in the works six months ago but was essentially frozen by the government until Friday’s decision, announced a day later.
The announcement came two days after 13-year-old Hallel Yaffa Ariel was stabbed to death by a Palestinian terrorist in her bedroom on Thursday morning in the settlement, close to the Palestinian town of Hebron. A civilian security guard who responded to the brutal attack was seriously injured by the Palestinian assailant, Muhammad Nasser Tarayrah, 17, from Bani Naim. Tarayrah was shot and killed by other guards.
The new homes were a part of a series of measures announced by the Israeli government in response to the terror attack in Kiryat Arba, including a closure on Bani Naim and cancellation of work permits of the attacker’s relatives.
Another terror attack on Friday near Hebron killed a rabbi, Miki Mark, and seriously injured his wife while they were driving on Route 60. Two of their children were also wounded in the shooting attack.
In response, the IDF stepped up its troop presence in the West Bank, sending two battalions to help secure settlements and the main roads used by Israelis. A closure on Hebron was also imposed.
On Friday, Gaza rocket fire hit a vacant pre-school in Sderot in southern Israel. The structure sustained damage and a number of people were treated for shock.
Netanyahu was to convene his security cabinet Saturday night to discuss a response to the escalation since Thursday.
Politicians and public figures have demanded a tough response to the deadly violence, including the expulsion of terrorists’ families to Gaza or Syria, as suggested by Likud minister Yisrael Katz.
Education Minister Naftali Bennett, who leads the Orthodox-nationalist Jewish Home party, said he would present a far-reaching plan to halt the wave of terror attacks on Saturday.
Suggestions included in his plan, he said, were the imprisonment or expulsion of terrorists’ families; the arrest of all Hamas operatives in the West Bank; the destruction of thousands of illegally built homes in the West Bank; the complete closure of the villages of assailants; resumption of full military activity in West Bank areas that are under the control of the Palestinian Authority; preventing Palestinian vehicles from traveling on Route 60 — the West Bank’s main north-to-south road; and disabling the Internet in the entire Hebron region.
Saturday’s construction announcement comes after a Quartet report Thursday demanded that Israel take urgent steps to halt the expansion of settlements in the West Bank, citing it as one of three “negative trends” that must be quickly reversed to keep the hope of an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal alive.