Police set up checkpoints at East Jerusalem neighborhoods

Elite unit volunteers offer to bolster Civil Guard, as new efforts are made to secure city after Har Nof attack

Stuart Winer is a breaking news editor at The Times of Israel.

Israeli border police check the ID's of Arab-Israelis outside the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Jabel Mukaber on November 19, 2014. Photo credit: Nati Shohat/FLASH90)
Israeli border police check the ID's of Arab-Israelis outside the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Jabel Mukaber on November 19, 2014. Photo credit: Nati Shohat/FLASH90)

Police set up checkpoints around some Arab neighborhoods and beefed up their presence across Jerusalem Wednesday as the city boosted security efforts a day after a deadly attack on a synagogue that left five people dead.

In Jabel Mukaber and Sur Baher, border guards posted temporary checkpoints and began stopping residents leaving the Arab East Jerusalem neighborhoods for the western part of the city, in a bid to stem a wave of terror attacks that has wracked the capital.

The postings were part of a strategy to return calm to the city after Tuesday’s terror attack in the Har Nof neighborhood on the western edge of the city.

Four worshipers and a policeman responding to the scene were killed when two cousins from Jabel Mukaber, armed with a gun and knives, stormed into a synagogue in a brazen early morning attack.

Some questioned the effectiveness of the checkpoints. According to Channel 2 News, checks were made on only some of those who passed by the police positions, which could also be easily skirted.

Throughout the day there was an increased police presence in the city and education institutes increased their security measures in response to the attack, which came amid a wave of violence that some have called a “Third Intifada.” Synagogues were told Tuesday to post security guards.

Although schools usually have a security guard at the front gate, kindergartens do not. According to Ynet, security officials in the capital are considering stationing security guards at kindergartens as well. In the meantime security protocols have been clarified including measures such as locking entrance doors and installing emergency alert buttons.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu visited the Jerusalem municipality’s new monitoring center, which controls a series of unmanned observation balloons in the capital, and vowed to continue the policy of destroying the family homes of terrorists as a deterrent measure.

“We have nothing against the residents of East Jerusalem, but we will not tolerate attacks on our citizens and we will work against the people who carry out these things and against the inciters,” Netanyahu said. “With a firm and determined hand we will restore security to Jerusalem.”

Earlier in the day, Israeli forces destroyed the home of the family of Abdulrahman al-Shaloudi, who rammed his car into a group of pedestrians last month, killing a baby and a young woman.

Meanwhile, nearly two dozen reservist soldiers in the Navy’s elite Shayetet 13 commando unit, Israel’s SEAL unit, offered to join civil guards in Jerusalem, Channel 2 reported.

In an arrangement coordinated with police, some 23 commandos will join up with special patrol units to police the capital.

The volunteers, including five officers, are to begin a week-long exercise in the coming days to familiarize themselves with local police operations.

According to the report, police hope that the initiative taken by soldiers from one of the IDF’s most elite units will encourage members of the public to volunteer for the civil guard that carry out neighborhood patrols to bolster regular police enforcement.

The commandos’ time is to be voluntary and not considered part of their regular annual reservist duties.

Police inspector Ofer Shahar, an officer in the special units within the civil guard, said that news of the Shayetet soldiers’ planned contribution brought a number of follow-up inquiries from veterans of other elite IDF units who also volunteered their services for special civil guard duties.

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