A number of lawmakers on Saturday called for calm and a prevention of further violence after tensions surrounding new security measures adopted by Israel at the Temple Mount in the wake of a terror attack at the holy site prompted a day of violent protests on Friday, in which three Palestinians were killed, followed by a fatal stabbing attack by a Palestinian terrorist who killed three relatives having Shabbat dinner at a West Bank settlement.
Deputy Minister for Public Diplomacy Michael Oren (Kulanu) urged the Palestinian leadership to work for calm, and said that the PA, the Hamas terror organization and other groups were exploiting the tensions surrounding the Temple Mount to incite to violence. He said their claims that Israel is changing the delicate arrangements at the site, holy to both Muslims and Jews, are “emphatically untrue.”
Responding to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’s announcement Friday that he was freezing ties with Israel until the newly installed metal detectors were removed, Oren said Abbas’s declaration may serve a political need but it “cuts off the limb on which he sits.”
The dramatic statement from the PA president came after a day of riots around the Old City and the Jerusalem area. Three Palestinians were reported killed and some 200 others were wounded, marking the worst outbreak of violence during protests against the metal detectors since they were put in place after three Arab Israelis shot dead two police officers at the Temple Mount with weapons they smuggled into the Al-Aqsa Mosque.
Late Friday, a Palestinian terrorist, Omar al-Abed, broke into a home in the West Bank settlement of Halamish, where he stabbed to death a father, son and daughter. Some two hours before carrying out the terror attack, the killer published a post on Facebook calling to defend Al-Aqsa Mosque, which sits on the Temple Mount alongside the Dome of the Rock sanctuary.
Opposition leader Isaac Herzog (Zionist Union) condemned the terror attack, while also saying that Israel must work to prevent further bloodshed. “We must use all means — diplomatic and security — to quell the violence before it spreads to further locations and sweeps us all into another cycle of bloodshed,” Herzog tweeted.
Fellow Zionist Union MK Tzipi Livni also denounced the deadly stabbing in Halamish, describing it as “brutal and shocking terror.”
“We are in an accelerated deterioration [into violence]. We need to shift from minor tactics to strategy,” the Walla news site quoted her as saying. “Immediate cooperation is required from the leadership of the United States alongside Jordan, Israel and the Palestinians in order to move on from the finger-pointing on both sides to calming the tensions.”
Meretz leader Zehava Galon called the stabbing “hideous” and “abominable” in a Twitter post while also urging Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu “to stop the escalation” of violence.
On Saturday morning IDF forces raided the home of al-Abed, and arrested his brother.
Troops were searching the village for weaponry and suspects. They also mapped the family home of the 19-year-old killer in preparation for its likely demolition.
Following Friday’s terror attack, IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkot held an emergency meeting of top army brass to discuss events.
Security chiefs decided to temporarily enact a closure on al-Abed’s hometown of Kobar, north of Ramallah, and to conduct searches in his family’s home.
On Saturday morning Eisenkot and Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman visited the site of the attack in Halamish and were briefed by local military commanders.
An army official told the Ynet news site that the 19-year-old assailant’s parents were known to be affiliated with the Hamas terror group. Hamas hailed the attack late Friday as “heroic.”
The army also said it would further boost forces in the West Bank, in addition to the reinforcements already provided due to tensions surrounding the new Temple Mount security checks.
Also on Saturday, IDF troops carried out searches near Avnei Hefetz after receiving reports of gunshots near the northern West Bank settlement on Friday.
The army said that a bullet was found at a synagogue in the settlement and that no one was injured.
AP contributed to this report.