A senior Israel Police officer downplayed the severity of ongoing unrest in Jerusalem, saying that the violence is not the beginning of a third Palestinian uprising.
“There is no intifada here,” said Police Major General Aharon Eksol in an interview published Saturday by website NRG. “There is primarily a weakening sense of security as the result of a few riots and small incidents in different places, that demand a police response in a few locations throughout the capital. The more complicated story is the struggle against terror. We are working extensively with the Shin Bet and IDF in order to foil more than a few terror attacks. But one must remember that it is very hard to stop someone who wakes up in the morning and decides to take his car or his tractor and go run people over and kill.”
Eksol, operations officer for Israel Police, said that Police Commissioner Yohanan Danino met with Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein in an attempt to convince the justice system to take a harder line with rioters.
Eksol explained the steps police are taking to combat the violence in the capital.
“At any given time, there will be 2000 policemen in Jerusalem. Around 1000 policemen will focus solely on the special mission to return quiet to the city’s streets and to protect the light rail, the Old City, and the Temple Mount. They are supported by technological tools like surveillance balloons and others that I won’t go into, in addition to special Yasam forces and undercover units. Two companies of Border Police joined them today as reinforcements.”
The deployment, he said, will deter Palestinians from continuing the riots.
He blamed Hamas for the ongoing violence. “It is no secret that Hamas is involved in the events in Jerusalem, be it in the general atmosphere or money. The ones stirring up unrest are Hamas and other Palestinians. This doesn’t come out of nowhere. There is a guiding hand pushing its interests,” he charged.
Asking Jerusalem residents to maintain their routines and show patience, Eksol promised, “We will restore quiet to the streets.”
Jerusalem’s mayor called for a crackdown against the wave of Palestinian unrest. In a Thursday interview, Mayor Nir Barkat said the violence had become intolerable, and he vowed to restore order.
Israeli police clashed with Palestinians across east Jerusalem Saturday ahead of a potentially explosive funeral that was delayed for a day and tight security conditions imposed.
Relatives of Abdel Rahman al-Shaludi, a Hamas activist from Silwan, who plowed into a Jerusalem crowd on Wednesday, killing a 3-month old baby and injuring eight others, were told to be ready to bury him at an undisclosed time Sunday, their lawyer said.
Security forces were on high alert Saturday ahead of the expected funeral, as several riots broke out across East Jerusalem neighborhoods.
Late Saturday night, Border Policemen arrested a masked Palestinian in Silwan as he threw rocks at security forces.
In At-Tur on the Mount of Olives, masked Palestinians blocked the road with garbage bins, and threw stones and firebombs, a police statement said. One person was injured in the incident.
Near the Shuafat refugee camp, stones were thrown at the Jerusalem light rail, a frequent target. Police said a carriage window was damaged but no one was hurt.
The riots were taking place for the third consecutive day Saturday.
Earlier in the day, protesters in Silwan hurled stones and firecrackers at a municipal tractor sent in to clear the roads of stones and debris thrown at police a day earlier. Security forces used riot dispersal means to clear the small-scale riot.
Police said Saturday they had arrested four suspects in East Jerusalem who were believed to have taken part in riots in Jerusalem’s Old City. The four were taken for questioning.
Hamas official Mahmoud Al-Zahar urged Palestinians in East Jerusalem on Saturday to rise up against Israel and continue “resisting.”
“The escalation [of violence] in the city is the solution to ‘Israeli aggression,'” he said, according to a report on Channel 10.
Al-Zahar added that the security coordination between Israel and the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank was “quelling the intifada against the [Israeli] ‘aggression.'”
Services for a Palestinian teenager, a US citizen, who was shot and killed by IDF troops Friday in the West Bank village of Silwad is set for Sunday, 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 Abd El-Wahab Hammad, who was shot by IDF troops after he attempted to hurl a Molotov cocktail at traffic on Highway 60, in the West Bank, according to the IDF.
“The forces fired immediately to neutralize the danger… and confirmed a hit,” an IDF spokeswoman told AFP.
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.
Tensions flared in the capital Thursday in the wake of a Wednesday terrorist attack on a Jerusalem light rail station in which three-month-old Chaya Zissel Braun was killed and eight others were injured.
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.
AP, AFP, and Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.