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Officials beef up police presence as terror wave, unrest persist

PM convenes emergency meeting on day that saw 2 killed in separate attacks; as a last resort, Israel may close off West Bank

Lazar Berman is The Times of Israel's diplomatic reporter

Israeli security forces outside the Alon Shvut settlement in the Etzion bloc after a terror attack. (photo credit: AFP/AHMAD GHARABLI)
Israeli security forces outside the Alon Shvut settlement in the Etzion bloc after a terror attack. (photo credit: AFP/AHMAD GHARABLI)

Israeli officials vowed to step up efforts against an ongoing wave of violence, and the prime minister convened an emergency meeting of security heads Monday night, after two stabbing attacks left two people dead and two more injured.

Meeting at his bureau in Jerusalem, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ordered officials to bolster security forces’s presence in the West Bank and called for terrorists’ homes to be torn down, in a bid to stem the wave of attacks.

At the meeting were Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon, Public Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch, Shin Bet security service head Yoram Cohen, police commissioner Yohanan Danino and Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein.

Rock-throwing attacks were reported throughout the country and in the West Bank, as unrest stemming from the police shooting of an Arab man early Saturday appeared to spread.

A passenger was lightly injured Monday evening when a stone struck his car on Route 31 on the way to the Dead Sea. Officers launched a search for the assailant, and police in the south were put on heightened alert.

Benjamin Netanyahu, center, meeting with security officials in Jerusalem on November 10, 2014. (photo credit: Haim Zach/GPO)
Benjamin Netanyahu, center, meeting with security officials in Jerusalem on November 10, 2014. (photo credit: Haim Zach/GPO)

In Kafr Kanna, the town where Kheir Hamdan was killed by police early Saturday after he ran at them with a knife, dozens of youths shot off firecrackers and burned tires in the street. A large police contingent was in the area.

Some 40 people have been arrested there over the past several days, including five on Monday, Israel Radio reported.

In the East Jerusalem Arab neighborhood of Wadi al-Joz, stones were thrown at cars and at nearby Jewish homes. No injuries or damage were reported.

On Route 446 in the northern West Bank, Palestinians threw rocks at a car, damaging it.

In Nazareth, stones were thrown at a bus and a police cruiser. The bus was slightly damaged.

Protesters throwing rocks towards Israeli Border Policemen at the entrance to Kafr Kanna on November 9, 2014. (photo credit: Flash90)
Protesters throwing rocks towards Israeli Border Policemen at the entrance to Kafr Kanna on November 9, 2014. (photo credit: Flash90)

Aharonovitch said he would look into the possibility of calling up reserves from the Border Police gendarme force to help quell the unrest, Channel 2 news reported.

As a last resort, officials may consider a closure on the West Bank if the situation deteriorates, the channel also reported.

Aharonovitch, who convened a security meeting Monday night, also decided to beef up police presence across the country and ordered stepped-up arrest operations against Hamas and Islamic Jihad operatives.

A statement from the police called on residents to remain alert and report suspicious activity.

The meeting came after two separate terror attacks by knife-wielding Palestinians during the day left a 26-year-old woman, Dalia Lemkus, and a 20-year-old soldier, Almog Shiloni, dead.

A senior security official told Israel’s Channel 10 news that officials expected the wave of attacks to continue and spread through the West Bank and Israel, amid an “atmosphere of terrorism.”

The official said police and security officials were stepping up efforts to stem the violence, including tearing down the homes of terrorists and taking legal steps against Palestinians entering Israel illegally.

Netanyahu said Monday that Israeli demonstrators agitating for a Palestinian state were welcome to move there, lashing out at the protesters who have demonstrated, sometimes violently, since Saturday.

“To all those who are shouting against Israel and demonstrating against it — you are welcome to move to the Palestinian Authority or to Gaza; Israel won’t stand in the way,” Netanyahu said at the beginning of the weekly Likud faction meeting.

“But whoever stays here must know — we will stand in the way of terrorists and attackers. I have given instructions to use all of the means at our disposal, including passing new laws, including destroying terrorists’ homes, and other measures.”

Protesters have waved Palestinian flags and called for Israel’s destruction in a number of Arab Israeli towns over the last three days, with some demonstrations turning violent.

Protests in northern Israel continued Monday morning, as 2,000 people, many waving Palestinian flags, gathered in the town of Sakhnin, just north of Kafr Kanna — the town where 22-year-old Kheir Hamdan was shot and killed by police Saturday — sparking demonstrations across the region.

In Nazareth, about 50 protesters gathered near Mary’s Well, waving Palestinian flags, Ynet reported.

Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.

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