Responding to critics, PM says army given full support to quell terror

Netanyahu says cameras will be installed across West Bank, day after ministers attend rally critical of government response to wave of violence

Benjamin Netanyahu with army officials at the site of a terror attack in the West Bank on October 6, 2015. Amos Ben Gershom/GPO)
Benjamin Netanyahu with army officials at the site of a terror attack in the West Bank on October 6, 2015. Amos Ben Gershom/GPO)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Tuesday responded to calls from the right flank of his party, including several of his ministers, urging him to toughen measures against Palestinian violence, saying he has given the army full support to crack down on terror.

The comments by Netanyahu came a day after thousands of people rallied outside his official residence and criticized the government’s handling of a recent surge in Palestinian terror attacks. Among the attendees were a number of politicians who are part of Netanyahu’s coalition, including some cabinet members.

“We will break this wave of terror as we have broken previous waves of terror,” he said during a tour in the West Bank to visit the site of a fatal shooting last Thursday in which Eitam Henkin and his wife Naama were shot dead in front of their children by Palestinian terrorists. “There is no doubt here about giving the army wide support and everyone knows that, including those who claim the opposite.”

Netanyahu noted that security plans would see cameras installed along highways throughout the West Bank, backed up by aerial surveillance monitored by command centers.

He told reporters the country’s top security echelon had decided to “significantly increase active protection” on Israel’s streets.

“The intention is to use all means available to the State of Israel — it’s a very powerful nation in terms of its army, its security forces and its technology — to significantly increase its security on the streets.”

While he declared safety on Israel’s road the “main problem,” he also vowed to drastically reduce terror attacks carried out against pedestrians.

Netanyahu has made several statements in the last several days vowing to quell Palestinian violence amid a string of terror attacks and daily clashes in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, in what some have begun to term a Third Intifada.

Demonstrators outside Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's official residence in Jerusalem, October 05, 2015. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)
Demonstrators outside Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s official residence in Jerusalem, October 05, 2015. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)

Social Affairs Minister Haim Katz and Absorption Minister Ze’ev Elkin, both from Netanyahu’s Likud faction, denied they were protesting against the prime minister and explained the gathering as a show of support for sterner security measures by the government rather than an expression of dissatisfaction, Channel 2 reported.

During the event, the crowds demanded that Netanyahu do more to counter the rising Palestinian violence.

Haim Katz, the Likud's social affairs minister, speaks at an anti-terror demonstration outside the Prime Minister's Residence in Jerusalem on October 5, 2015 (Ynet screenshot)
Haim Katz, the Likud’s social affairs minister, speaks at an anti-terror demonstration outside the Prime Minister’s Residence in Jerusalem on October 5, 2015 (Ynet screenshot)

Katz, who had addressed the crowd of thousands, said the gathering was “not a demonstration at all” and explained he had been invited to take part in closing celebrations for the week-long Sukkot festival that ended that evening and which were also part of the event.

“He [Netanyahu] is the only leader in the Israeli Knesset at the moment who can provide an answer to the security and settlement needs of Israel,” he said. “The things that I said I didn’t say personally to the prime minister, because I haven’t met with him recently.”

Elkin said he was only there to hear what the public had to say.

“His role as a public representative is to listen to the public, that is what the Minister Elkin did,” an unnamed source told Channel 2.

Other politicians also attended the rally, which drew an estimated 10,000 people.

Likud Minister Yariv Levin addresses right-wing protesters at a demonstration outside the Prime Minister's Residence in Jerusalem on October 5, 2015.  (screen capture)
Likud Minister Yariv Levin addresses right-wing protesters at a demonstration outside the Prime Minister’s Residence in Jerusalem on October 5, 2015. (screen capture)

Tourism Minister Yariv Levin also spoke to the crowds, and branded Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas a terrorist who had no desire for peace.

The gathering came after a spate of Palestinian stabbing and shooting attacks that left four Israelis dead since last Thursday. Violent protests by Palestinians in East Jerusalem and the West Bank have increased over the past few weeks focusing on tensions at the Temple Mount complex in the Old City of Jerusalem.

Netanyahu convened his security cabinet Monday night to discuss measures to counter the escalation of the Palestinian conflict, and said he was sending thousands of additional police and soldiers into Jerusalem and West Bank areas in order to restore security for Israel.

He said Tuesday he had asked the government’s legal adviser to find ways to punish people who incite against Israel on social media.

“I am not willing to accept that Israeli citizens join in this incitement,” he said. “I can’t accept that in Israeli soccer stadiums the state of Israel the flags of the PLO and even Hamas are being waved, and that people spit on policemen. I don’t accept this from Jews, not from Israeli Arabs – from nobody.”

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