Knesset to convene for emergency session next week on terror attacks

Gantz vows to ‘flood the streets’ with thousands of IDF reservists if needed; Netanyahu suggests government can’t fight terror because of coalition’s Ra’am party

Illustrative: Ministers and MKs attend a plenum session in the assembly hall of the Knesset in Jerusalem, January 5, 2022.(Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Illustrative: Ministers and MKs attend a plenum session in the assembly hall of the Knesset in Jerusalem, January 5, 2022.(Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Knesset Speaker Mickey Levy has announced that the Knesset plenum will hold an emergency meeting next Wednesday to address the current wave of deadly terror attacks.

The past week was the most deadly Israel has seen in many years, with four people killed in a stabbing and ramming attack in Beersheba, two killed in a shooting in Hadera, and five in a shooting in Bnei Brak.

Levy said Wednesday that he had ordered the convening of the chamber following a request from the opposition Likud and Shas parties.

Because parliament is currently in its spring recess, such a session is highly unusual.

In their request, the two parties demanded the Knesset plenum be convened “in light of the difficult security situation and the damage to personal security felt by Israeli citizens.”

At a press conference at the IDF’s Central Command base on Wednesday, Defense Minister Benny Gantz said Israel is under a “murderous terror onslaught.”

Defense Minister Benny Gantz gives a press conference at IDF Central Command headquarters on March 30, 2022. (Screen capture: GPO)

“We are taking offensive and defensive actions,” Gantz said, explaining orders he had given that include bolstering Israel Police with 1,000 soldiers.

He said the defense establishment was leading intelligence efforts to make preventive arrests against potential attackers.

“If necessary, we will recruit thousands of reservists who will flood the streets and carry out wherever operational activity is required,” he said.

The first two attacks in the recent spree, in Beersheba and Hadera, were carried out by Arab Israelis, while Tuesday’s shooting in Bnei Brak was committed by a Palestinian who was in Israel illegally.

They marked the highest number of terror fatalities in the space of a single week in Israel since 2006, when a suicide bus bombing killed 11 people in Tel Aviv. The assaults have exacerbated concerns about an escalating wave of violence ahead of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, which begins at the end of the week.

Last May, tensions around Ramadan and an 11-day conflict with the Gaza Strip escalated into the worst rioting in decades between the Jewish and Arab communities. Arab Israeli leaders have condemned the recent terror attacks.

Opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu paid condolence calls Wednesday to the families of two victims in the shooting attack in Bnei Brak, calling for the government to act with a “strong hand” against terror.

In comments to reporters, Netanyahu hailed the “heroism” of the police and said Israel is “under a murderous terror assault.”

“We must restore peace and security to Israeli citizens,” he said.

“Unfortunately everyone sees a government dependent on the Islamic Movement isn’t doing this and probably isn’t capable of doing this,” Netanyahu added, referring to the coalition’s Ra’am, an Islamist party.

Ra’am chief Mansour Abbas hit back at Netanyahu soon after.

“Last year during [Operation] Guardian of the Walls we sat three times [with Netanyahu], we held negotiations about a partnership between Likud and Ra’am and a coalition agreement,” Abbas was quoted as saying by Channel 12 news, using Israel’s official name for the May 2021 Gaza war. Netanyahu was prime minister at the time, and seeking another term.

“Then we weren’t the Islamic Movement?” he said.

Netanyahu’s Likud party responded by claiming it had never held coalition talks with Ra’am. “A government that is dependent on the Islamist Movement can’t really fight terror,” it said in a statement.

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