PM blames Abbas for inciting shooting of Jewish activist
Police Commissioner Yohanan Danino tells officers that ‘long arm’ of law will reach all terrorists
Lazar Berman is The Times of Israel's diplomatic reporter
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Thursday that incitement by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas was partly to blame for the shooting of a Temple Mount activist a night earlier.
Netanyahu convened a meeting of top security officials Thursday morning, a day after Rabbi Yehudah Glick, a prominent activist for Jewish rights on the Temple Mount, was shot in an apparent assassination attempt.
“I said only days ago that we are facing a wave of incitement by radical Islamic elements and by Palestinian Authority head Abu Mazen [Mahmoud Abbas], who said that the ascent of Jews to the Temple Mount needs to be prevented by every means,” Netanyahu said.
Netanyahu held the meeting with Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon, Public Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch, Shin Bet security service head Yoram Cohen, Israel Police commissioner Yohanan Danino, Jerusalem Police commissioner Moshe Edri, Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat, and representatives of the IDF and Justice Ministry, according to a statement from the Prime Minister’s Office.
“I still have not heard one word of condemnation from the international community against this incitement. The international community needs to stop its hypocrisy and act against the inciters, those who are trying to change the status quo,” Netanyahu said.
Police on Thursday said they killed the suspected shooter in a raid in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Abu Tor.
The Shin Bet confirmed that the suspected shooter, a 32-year-old Palestinian who had previously served time in Israeli prison, was killed after he opened fire. Unconfirmed reports identified the man as Mu’taz Hijazi, an Islamic Jihad activist.
The shooting came amid an uptick in violence in Jerusalem and a bolstered police effort to crack down on near daily incidents of rock throwing and Molotov cocktail attacks.
Netanyahu said that he ordered a further reinforcement of security forces in Jerusalem, and that the effort would take significant time.
“No one needs to take the law into their own hands,” he cautioned.
Earlier in the day, Danino said that the “long arm” of security forces would reach terrorists wherever they are, Israel National News reported.
Speaking to members of the special Yamam police unit Thursday after they killed the suspected shooter, Danino praised the work of the police and Shin Bet forces involved in the search, saying that “the cooperation between different organizations is maximal and vital, in a way that produces results, if not immediately then in the long-term.”
He also praised the police reinforcements brought into the capital over the last week, saying that they would “continue to do meaningful and important work to protect the security of Jerusalem’s residents, and residents of the country in general.”
Aharonovitch, writing on his Facebook page, promised that “we will not allow terror to raise its head in Jerusalem. Let every terrorist know that Israel Police and the security establishment will reach every scoundrel.”
Right-wing lawmakers called on Netanyahu to act late Wednesday night, following the suspected assassination attempt on Glick, an activist with the Temple Mount Faithful which seeks to “liberate” the site from “Islamic occupation.”
Glick was shot three times outside the Jerusalem’s Begin Center following a conference about the Jewish presence on the Temple Mount. Eyewitnesses said the gunman had a clear Arabic accent and spoke briefly to Glick, telling him “you’ve made me angry,” before firing his weapon.
Police were on high alert in the city, bracing for violence and revenge attacks and closing down the Temple Mount for the first time in over a decade.
Glick remains in serious, but stable, condition at Shaare Tzedek Medical Center.
Economy Minister Naftali Bennett, from the Jewish Home party, demanded that Netanyahu return “Israeli sovereignty to Jerusalem.”
“Security is delivered through actions, not talk. An attack in the heart of Jerusalem is a red line.” he said.
Housing Minister Uri Ariel (Jewish Home), a proponent of a Jewish presence in east Jerusalem, said that the bullets fired at Glick “were aimed at all Jews who wish to pray on the Temple Mount.”
Ariel also called on Netanyahu to open the site to Jewish worshipers, as did MK Ayelet Shaked.
Likud MK Moshe Feiglin, who was at the event, said the incident was “terrible but quite expected.”
“Yehudah Glick was threatened all the time. The fact that permanent security was not assigned to him is a fiasco,” he said.
“The flaccidity of the defense mechanism and Minister for Internal Security [Yitzhak] Aharonovitch in the face of the Arab violence constantly perpetrated against Jews on the Temple Mount encourages further violence and has brought about this attempted murder,” he wrote on Facebook.
Despite the announcement by Israel Police that the Temple Mount would be closed to both Muslim and Jewish worshipers and visitors until further notice, Feiglin showed up at the site Thursday morning, but was not allowed up.
The shooting came amid weeks of rising tensions between Israelis and Palestinians in Jerusalem. Last week a Palestinian man drove a car into a crowded train platform located along the seam separating East and West Jerusalem, killing two. In the days following, Palestinians have clashed continuously with Israeli police in Arab neighborhoods of the capital. Israel responded to the rise in violence by increasing its police presence, deploying an additional 1,000 officers to the city.
Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.