Acknowledging that Israel “is experiencing a series of difficult terror attacks,” Prime Minister Naftali Bennett vowed Friday that the country “will overcome them this time too.”
In a series of tweets, Bennett said “Israel has known waves of severe attacks such as the Second Intifada that lasted several years, or the [wave of attacks in 2015 and 2016] in which 47 Israeli citizens were murdered, and after a little over a year we defeated the wave.”
“We will overcome them this time too, and we’ll strive to do so as fast as possible,” he said.
His remarks come after 11 people were killed and several others were severely hurt in several terror attacks across the country and in the West Bank in the past week and a half.
Bennett said authorities “are not standing by, but rather taking the initiative” to thwart future potential attacks.
“We’ve already taken numerous steps against those who in the past have supported or been active with the Islamic State, as well as against operatives in other groups. We’ve deployed police and soldiers throughout the country,” he said.
Two attacks, in Beersheba and Hadera, were committed by Arab Israelis who were affiliated with Islamic State. The assailant in a third attack in Bnei Brak was a Palestinian from the northern West Bank.
The premier said officials will also expedite actions to find and confiscate illegal weapons in Arab communities, where the problem is rampant.
“These weapons, estimated in the hundreds of thousands, have been amassed over years, and now we must root it out,” he said.
Some 400,000 illegal weapons are circulating in Israel, according to a 2020 Knesset report, the vast majority of them in Arab communities, which have seen a surge in violence in recent years, driven mainly by organized crime.
According to a report earlier in the day, Bennett wanted police to seize the opportunity to conduct a wide-scale operation and confiscate the hundreds of thousands of illegal weapons, but law enforcement officials said police are not capable of such a move.
Bennett on Friday hailed those legally allowed carry to firearms — police, soldiers and citizens with gun permits — as “those who over the years after succeeded in quickly stopping attacks,” days after urging licensed gun owners to carry their weapons.
“Of course, the Shin Bet, IDF and police succeeded in foiling lots of terror operations in advance, but not always,” he said. “Therefore the responsibility of citizens is very important.”
Bennett’s comments came as Israeli forces were on high alert during Friday prayers at the Temple Mount in Jerusalem’s Old City, ahead of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan that starts Saturday, following the recent attacks.
Hundreds of IDF soldiers were also sent to help police patrol central locations in major cities, including Tel Aviv and Jerusalem.
Amid the heightened security measures, Defense Minister Benny Gantz on Friday toured the Judea and Samaria Division, which operates in the West Bank, noting the increased troop deployments to the area.
“We will put our hands on those who harm Israeli citizens, at any place or any time,” he said in a statement from his office.
He also thanked Israeli forces deployed this weekend “around the clock, far from their families,” and sent Ramadan greetings to Muslim Palestinians.
“I call on you to preserve and act for calm. Only in this way can we enable the entry [of Palestinians] to Israel and further steps that were planned,” he said.