Security cabinet decides to ‘strengthen settlements’ after Jerusalem terror attack
Netanyahu vows to ‘exact a price’ from terrorists and supporters, issue more civilian gun permits; Ben Gvir says he will introduce death penalty legislation
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the security cabinet had decided on a series of steps to “combat terror and exact a price from terrorists and their supporters” during a meeting held late Saturday night after the deadliest terror attack against Israelis in over a decade.
The high-level security cabinet convened after a terrorist killed seven and wounded three near a synagogue in Jerusalem’s Neve Ya’akov neighborhood on Friday evening. In a second attack, a 13-year-old Palestinian shot and wounded two people outside the capital’s Old City on Saturday.
Netanyahu said that in response to the attacks, and subsequent celebrations in Palestinian cities, officials decided on steps to “strengthen settlements” in the coming week, without providing further details.
The security cabinet also decided to immediately seal off the house of the terrorist who carried out Friday’s attack, Alqam Khayri, before the home in East Jerusalem’s A-Tur neighborhood is destroyed.
A few hours later, police announced that they had sealed the home. Security forces had already made the residents leave the home soon after the attack on Friday night.
The ministers elected to cancel National Insurance and other benefits for the families of terrorists who support their actions.
On Sunday, a law nullifying the national ID number of terrorists’ family members who support attacks will be debated in the meeting of the full cabinet.
Netanyahu also said “thousands of civilians” will be granted permits to carry firearms by expediting and expanding the licensing process.
Additional soldiers and police will be deployed, and security forces will embark on a series of operations to gather intelligence, confiscate illegal firearms and carry out arrests, Netanyahu said.
Far-right National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir, a member of the security cabinet, said after the meeting that he will soon propose a law allowing for the death penalty against terrorists.
“I hope it will pass with a big majority,” he said.
In his opening remarks at the security cabinet session, Netanyahu vowed a decisive response to the attacks.
“Our response will be strong, fast and accurate,” he said. “Whoever tries to hurt us — we will harm them, and anyone who helps them.”
“We are not looking for escalation, but we are prepared for any scenario,” Netanyahu added.
He urged Israelis to abide by the law following the attacks. Police have previously said they were concerned about potential “price tag” attacks taken in revenge against Palestinians.
“I call again to the citizens of Israel: Do not take the law into your hands. We are not in the days of the [Jewish] Underground. We have a sovereign country, with an excellent army, government, and security forces,” Netanyahu said. “Let them do their work.”
Also attending the security cabinet meeting was Shas leader Aryeh Deri, who has been disqualified as a minister due to his multiple past criminal convictions. He was able to attend the security council cabinet after Netanyahu invited him to take part as an observer.
Ahead of the meeting, Ben Gvir assailed Attorney General Gali Baharav-Miara, accusing her of not authorizing security forces to seal the home of the Palestinian terrorist who carried out Friday night’s shooting. Baharav-Miari, who was due to address the security cabinet on the issue, swiftly denied the claim.
Baharav-Miara has frequently found herself at odds with Netanyahu’s new government since it was sworn in last month, notably over its far-reaching plans to upend the judicial system and the appointment of Deri as a minister.
Sealing the homes of attackers is often a replacement for demolishing them. In general, the demolition process takes several months. The home needs to be mapped out, the High Court must deny appeals by the family, and security forces often wait for an optimal time to enter Palestinian cities for the operation.
Earlier Saturday, Defense Minister Yoav Gallant during an assessment with top military officials also called to sanction family members of terrorists.
“I instructed the security establishment to increase defensive efforts with an emphasis on the area surrounding Jerusalem and to increase deterrence and preventative actions against anyone who is involved or plans to harm civilians,” Gallant said in a statement.
“We will not allow a situation in which a person who receives rights from the State of Israel, murders Israeli citizens and remains a resident of the state,” he said.
With seven killed, the shooting in Jerusalem was the deadliest terror attack since 2011, when terrorists crossed into Israel from Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula, killing eight Israelis. It was the deadliest Palestinian terror attack since 2008, when a gunman from East Jerusalem killed eight Israeli students at the Mercaz Harav yeshiva in the capital.
The attack was followed by another shooting in Jerusalem on Saturday morning, in which two Israelis were seriously hurt. The assailant, a 13-year-old Palestinian from East Jerusalem, was shot and wounded before being taken into custody.
Also Saturday, a Palestinian gunman opened fire at a restaurant near the Almog Junction close to Jericho in the West Bank, causing no injuries. On Saturday night, a Palestinian man armed with a handgun was shot dead by a security guard near the northern West Bank settlement of Kedumim.
Friday’s deadly attack came following days of violence in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. Tensions have increased dramatically since Thursday morning, when an Israel Defense Forces raid in the West Bank against a terrorist cell left nine Palestinians dead — most of them gunmen and members of the cell, though at least one civilian was also killed.
The IDF said Thursday’s operation in the Jenin refugee camp was necessary to foil imminent attack plans by a local Islamic Jihad terror cell. The group had primed explosives and firearms, according to the IDF.
Hamas praised Friday’s attack as a response to Thursday’s IDF operation, but no terror group took responsibility for it.
Thursday overnight saw rocket fire from Palestinian terror groups in Gaza and Israeli retaliatory air strikes, though both sides appeared intent on avoiding an escalation into a full-scale war.