Israel’s political echelon called for a tougher response to Palestinian terrorism on Thursday, after two attacks in which five people were killed — the deadliest day so far in the latest wave of violence.
Two Israelis were killed and at least two others wounded in a stabbing attack in southern Tel Aviv Thursday afternoon. Hours later, three people were killed and four injured in a shooting attack near the West Bank settlement of Alon Shvut, just south of Jerusalem.
The perpetrators of both attacks were caught by security forces and were being held in police custody.
Referring to a series of government measures passed in recent weeks, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that Israel would exact a harsh punishment on those who carry out attacks against it’s citizens.
“There is no immunity for terrorists: We will hold them to account, we will exact a price from their families, we will destroy their homes, and we will cancel their citizenship.”
Netanyahu connected the attacks to last week’s brutal terror attacks in Paris, saying they were both motivated by fundamentalist Islam.
“Behind these terrorist attacks stands radical Islam, which seeks to destroy us, the same radical Islam that struck in Paris and threatens all of Europe.” he said. “Whoever condemned the attacks in France needs to condemn the attacks in Israel. It’s the same terror. Whoever does not do this is a hypocrite and blind.”
President Ruven Rivlin also compared Thursday’s attacks to Paris and described the loss felt as “the same pain.”
“Fundamentalist Islamism is a danger to all free nations everywhere, and we must fight against it unequivocally,” he said.
Netanyahu held an emergency security consultation in the evening with IDF, Israel Police and Shin Bet security service officials. The meeting discussed “action in the Hebron area, from which most terrorists have set out recently, as well as steps against Israelis who employ or aid people in Israel illegally,” the Prime Minister’s Office said in a statement.
Police identified the Tel Aviv attacker as Raid Halil bin Mahmoud, a 36-year-old father of five from the West Bank village of Dura, near Hebron.
While initial reports suggested he was in Israel illegally, police said he did possess a permit to work in the country and was employed by a restaurant in the city.
Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon said security forces were “working day and night in order to foil terror networks and arrest the attackers and those who send them, and in the vast majority of cases, they prevent attacks against Israeli citizens.” He described the current security situation as “complex” and said the government was using all of the means at its disposal to prevent further attacks.
Former foreign minister Avigdor Liberman, who heads the right-wing opposition Yisrael Beytenu party, criticized the government for what he termed its “lackluster” response to recent attacks. Speaking to Channel 2, he called on the government to institute a lockdown on the Palestinian Authority-controlled part of Hebron to prevent more attackers coming into Israel from the area.
Education Minister Naftali Bennett, who chairs the pro-settler Jewish Home party, went a step further than Lieberman, advocating an extensive military operation in Hebron “to snatch the terrorists at 3 a.m. while they are sleeping in their beds.”
He said the government must continue to take decisive action against terrorists and not “wait for them to reach us in Tel Aviv.”