Lapid meets top security officials as police gird for further East Jerusalem unrest
PM says Israel ‘determined’ to let Sukkot festivities go ahead while acting with a ‘strong and uncompromising hand against terror and violent disturbances’
Emanuel (Mannie) Fabian is The Times of Israel's military correspondent.
Prime Minister Yair Lapid on Thursday held a security consultation with senior law enforcement officials following fierce clashes in East Jerusalem the previous night, as police braced for further violence.
Earlier Thursday, Public Security Minister Omer Barlev ordered an immediate call-up of four police reserve companies, which were to be deployed to the Jerusalem area on Friday morning.
Following Lapid’s meeting with Barlev, Shin Bet chief Ronen Bar, police chief Kobi Shabtai and other law enforcement officials, the prime minister said Israel was “determined” to let festivities during the Jewish holiday of Sukkot go ahead in Jerusalem while acting with a “strong and uncompromising hand against terror and violent disturbances.”
“Security forces are deployed throughout the country and are making possible all the holiday events in Jerusalem and in general,” Lapid said in remarks provided by his office.
“Security forces will not stop until they catch the terrorists and their dispatchers,” he added, referring to two Palestinian gunmen still on the lam following separate deadly shooting attacks earlier this week.
Palestinian protesters hurled rocks and Molotov cocktails, launched fireworks and set tires and garbage dumpsters on fire in several neighborhoods through Wednesday night and into the early hours of Thursday, as riots over police operations in the Shuafat refugee camp spread to other areas of the city, sparking some of the heaviest fighting seen there in over a year.
The refugee camp has seen closures and heavy police activity in recent days, as forces search for a Palestinian gunman who killed an Israeli soldier at a nearby checkpoint on Saturday.
Opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu on Thursday blamed the unrest in Jerusalem on Israel agreeing to a US-brokered deal with Lebanon on a maritime border between the countries.
Netanyahu denounced the agreement as a “surrender to terror” that emboldens Israel’s enemies, including the Lebanese Hezbollah terror group.
“When you surrender to terror, you get terror,” he said, charging that “when you surrender to Nasrallah in Lebanon, you get riots in Jerusalem,” referring to Hezbollah’s leader.
Barlev, who oversees the police, said the incidents were under control. “Contrary to various publications, the events were under the control of the police, the riots did not endanger the rest of the city and did not trickle out beyond East Jerusalem,” he said in remarks provided by his office.
Barlev also noted that restrictions on the Shuafat refugee camp would be eased as much as possible.
Officials said Thursday morning that 23 people had been detained in connection with the rioting in Jerusalem over the previous days.
Police were bracing for further violence on Thursday evening and over the weekend.
Lapid and Defense Minister Benny Gantz also instructed law enforcement to focus efforts on preventing the spread of fake news on social media that could incite further violence, their offices said.
Police have been searching Shuafat for Udai Tamimi, who allegedly committed the shooting attack that left Sgt. Noa Lazar dead, and another guard, David Morel, hospitalized in serious condition.
The rioting came as Jewish Israelis were celebrating the Sukkot holiday, which generally draws thousands of visitors to Jerusalem and its Old City, often raising tensions with Palestinian residents.
The violence in Jerusalem also came amid rising unrest in the West Bank, where sporadic clashes were reported on Thursday.
A seven-year-old Israeli boy was lightly hurt when Palestinians hurled stones at Israeli vehicles in the Huwara area in the northern West Bank, medics said.
According to Palestinian media reports and footage published online, dozens of settlers from the nearby settlement of Yitzhar, some armed with batons, arrived at the scene and clashed with Palestinians in response.
Watch: Israeli settlers, backed by the army, attack Palestinians in Hawara #westbank pic.twitter.com/2Rj9I5a8Bk
— Oren Ziv (@OrenZiv_) October 13, 2022
Footage showed Israeli soldiers alongside the settlers as they attacked Palestinians in Huwara, with one firing into the air.
Reports in Palestinian media said settlers set fire to a park and three trucks in the Huwara area. Several Palestinians were reportedly hurt in the clash.
Huwara has long been a flashpoint in the West Bank as it is just about the only Palestinian town through which Israelis regularly travel in order to reach settlements in the northern West Bank.
There was no immediate comment from the military on the clashes.
On Wednesday, a Palestinian teenager was shot dead by Israeli forces after allegedly hurling stones at Israeli cars near Hebron, and on Tuesday, an Israeli soldier was killed in a shooting near Nablus while securing a settler march.
Carrie Keller-Lynn and Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.