Around 1,000 right-wing Israelis demonstrated outside Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s residence in Jerusalem on Thursday evening, with protesters calling for his resignation over the government’s response to a string of recent terror attacks.
Two Israeli soldiers were killed, a third was critically injured, and an Israeli woman civilian was seriously injured, in a terrorist shooting near the Givat Assaf outpost early Thursday. On Sunday, close to the nearby Ofra settlement, seven Israelis were shot and injured in a terror attack, including a pregnant woman, whose baby, delivered by C-section, died Wednesday.
“Bibi resign, you are not wanted anymore!” the crowd chanted, using the nickname of the prime minister who also serves as defense minister.
Some demonstrators burned pictures of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas. The placards, which featured Abbas in the crosshairs of a rifle, have begun to appear in settlements throughout the West Bank in recent days.
Police closed roads in the Rehavia neighborhood due to the protest and advised drivers to take alternate routes.
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However Samaria Regional Council chairman Yossi Dagan told the gender-segregated crowd that he was not calling for the prime minister to step down, but instead to take action.
“We are here to tell the prime minister and the cabinet ministers that we are done keeping quiet,” Dagan said, according to Hadashot TV news.
West Bank councils have announced their intention to strike on Sunday, and there will be a demonstration outside the Prime Minister’s Office during the cabinet meeting.
“I call on Netanyahu to wake up! The people elected you to head a national government, but this government is behaving like the Barak government at the beginning of the Second Intifada,” Dagan said, referring to former prime minister Ehud Barak, on whose watch the uprising erupted in 2000. “We hope to see you crush the terrorist authority.”
Chaim Silberstein, whose grandson died after being born prematurely to the mother wounded during the Sunday terror shooting, also addressed the rally and excoriated the government for its response to such attacks.
“Will my sweet grandson Amiad Yisrael be just a statistic?” Silberstein said.
Silberstein’s daughter Shira Ish-Ran was one of seven Israelis wounded in the drive-by shooting outside the settlement of Ofra. Ish-Ran — who was 30 months pregnant and seriously injured in the attack — gave birth in an emergency Caesarian-section, but the baby, who was treated in intensive care, died Wednesday.
“Will those injured not be remembered and the security of our brothers and sisters deprived because maybe they’ll try and advance another process, sign another meaningless paper or be scared of another anonymous politician in a friendly country?” Silberstein said.
“Mr. Prime Minister, I ask and demand that in the name of my grandson, whose blood cries out from his fresh grave on the Mount of Olives in our eternal united capital, decisive and successful action be taken to prevent the next attack,” he added.
Silberstein also called for a new settlement to be built and named after his grandson, according to Channel 10 news.
Meanwhile dozens of settler youths rioted at the scene of Thursday’s deadly terror shooting in the central West Bank, human rights activists and Palestinian reports said.
Video footage showed the far-activists throwing stones at passing Palestinian vehicles on Route 60, outside the Givat Assaf outpost, and clashing with Israeli soldiers.
Elsewhere in the West Bank, settlers hurled rocks at Palestinian cars in the Etzion Bloc, a Palestinian security source told the official Palestinian Authority news site Wafa.
A number of the vehicles were damaged, the source said.
Settlers also hurled rocks at Palestinian vehicles near the entrance to Jit, a village in the northern West Bank, said Zakaria Sede, a Rabbis for Human Rights field coordinator.
A number of the vehicles were damaged, he said in a phone call, adding the settlers also threw rocks at homes in Jit, shattering the windows of two homes.
Sede also said rocks were thrown at Palestinian cars in Hawara, outside Nablus.
B’Tselem, a rights group that opposes Israeli military control of the West Bank, released a video it said shows a masked settler throwing rocks at the windshield of a Palestinian truck near the northern West Bank settlement of Yitzhar.
The Yesh Din rights group reported that settlers fired live bullets at homes in the Palestinian villages of Ein Yabroud and Beitin in the central West Bank.
Two Israeli soldiers were killed in Thursday’s shooting outside Givat Assaf, while a third soldier was critically wounded and a civilian woman seriously injured.
The army later named the dead soldiers as Staff Sgt. Yovel Mor Yosef, 20, and Sgt. Yosef Cohen, 19.
Also Thursday, Border Police shot and killed a Palestinian in Jerusalem’s Old City who stabbed two officers, lightly wounding them.
The army said another Palestinian tried to ram his car into soldiers outside Ramallah, though defense officials told Channel 10 news it appeared not to have been an attack. The Palestinian driver was shot dead by Israeli troops.
The West Bank has seen an increase in the number of attacks on Israeli civilians and soldiers in recent weeks, after months of relative calm in the area, raising concerns of a potential renewed outbreak of regular, serious violence in the region.
The military blamed the increase in attacks both on terror groups’ ongoing efforts, the “copycat” phenomenon, and a number of significant dates coming up this week, notably the anniversary of the Hamas terror group’s founding.
On Wednesday night, the Israeli military arrested a number of suspects who were believed to have carried out Sunday night’s shooting attack and shot dead a third, who security officials said tried to attack Israeli troops during an escape attempt.
A Palestinian who shot dead two Israelis in a West Bank terror attack in October at the Barkan industrial zone was also killed early Thursday during a shootout with IDF troops.
Jacob Magid and Adam Rasgon contributed to this report.