The day after an East Jerusalem man with ties to Hamas drove his car onto a light rail platform, killing a three-month-old baby and wounding eight, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu lashed out at the international community for failing to criticize Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.
The Palestinian leader “both glorifies the murderers and also embraces the organization to which the terrorists belong, Hamas,” Netanyahu said during a briefing with security officials in Jerusalem’s national police headquarters. “And faced with these actions of the Authority chairman, we find only a flaccid [response] internationally. [World leaders] are unwilling to say two words, even one word of criticism of him [Abbas]. We do not share this weakness. We will stand firmly for our rights and obligations to defend our capital.”
“The attack in Jerusalem is supported by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas,” Netanyahu said, in an apparent reference to the praise that the terrorist, Abdel Rahman Al-Shaludi, received Thursday from a Jerusalem branch of Abbas’s Fatah organization.
It was the second time since the Wednesday terror attack that Netanyahu charged Abbas was supporting or inciting attacks on Jews in the capital.
Apparently referring to an attack Wednesday on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, Canada, by a man who had converted to Islam, Netanyahu noted Jerusalem was not the only city or capital to face terror threats, adding that Israel would not allow such attacks to become the norm.
During the Thursday security briefing, which was attended by Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat, Public Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonvitch, Israel Police chief Yohanan Danino and Shin Bet head Yoram Cohen, the prime minister said Jerusalem’s police force would be massively reinforced to combat the rise in East Jerusalem violence in recent weeks.
“I trust the people sitting here,” Netanyahu said at the meeting. “We support the Israeli police. We will give them all the reinforcements they need, all the capabilities, in order to realize this mission” of bringing an end to violent attacks in the city.
Later Thursday, during a ceremony commemorating slain Israeli tourism minister Rehavam Ze’evi, who was assassinated by a Palestinian terror cell 13 years ago in Jerusalem, Netanyahu linked assaults carried out by Islamist-inspired terrorists around the world to Wednesday’s attack, and said Israel was determined to eradicate terrorism activity within its border.
“Like other campaigns against terror, we will win here too,” Netanyahu said.
“Today’s world is learning to recognize this terror, because a lot of the principles of the terror that strikes us are shared by extremist Islamic terrorists who attack other capitals. The difference is that we are not bowing our heads in the face of terror, and we fight it with force, again and again.”
Earlier Thursday, Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon said the Wednesday attack was “clearly the outcome of those in the Palestinian Authority who educate the younger generation to hate Jews and expel them from their homeland.”
The Palestinian Authority “does not, and never did, have a culture of peace, but rather a culture of incitement and jihad against Jews. It starts with Abbas’s lying statements against Israel from the UN podium, continues with persistent Palestinian attempts to delegitimize us in the international arena and ends with incitement in the Palestinian education system. These are the harsh consequences,” he charged.
“This is why we say time and again that the roots of the conflict are not territorial, but rather the fact that the Palestinians refuse to accept our right to exist as a Jewish state within any borders at all,” the defense minister concluded.
Abbas’s Fatah movement published a poster Thursday celebrating the rail station attacker, calling Shaludi a “heroic martyr” who “executed the Jerusalem operation which led to the running over of settlers in the occupied city of Jerusalem.”
Shaludi, a nephew of slain Hamas explosives expert Mohiyedine Sharif, is believed to have been a Hamas supporter, based on the radicalism in his Facebook posts, but the new Fatah poster may indicate an organizational affiliation with the rival Palestinian organization.
The Palestinian Authority issued no official comment on the incident, but Fatah Central Committee member Sultan Abu-Aynayn dubbed Shaludi “a hero” in Facebook comments posted Thursday, citing his time spent in Israeli prisons, according to Palestinian Media Watch.
Barkat called Wednesday for a bolstered police presence in neighborhoods that have seen violent riots in recent months, as stone-throwing protests broke out across East Jerusalem Wednesday night.
“We must restore peace and security in Jerusalem,” Barkat said in a statement. “As I have said for months, the situation in Jerusalem is intolerable and we must act unequivocally against all violence taking place in the city. Today, more than ever, it is clear that we must send police forces into neighborhoods where there are disturbances, placing them strategically and widely in significant numbers.
“Following my request, the prime minister has given instructions to reinforce the police forces in order for us to implement an operational action plan formulated to deal with riots, including the addition of personnel and special units, the use of technological means, and increased intelligence.”
Ilan Ben Zion, Adiv Sterman and Elhanan Miller contributed to this report.