Shin Bet: Temple Mount crisis sparked huge increase in terrorist activity
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Shin Bet: Temple Mount crisis sparked huge increase in terrorist activity

Nadav Argaman says security service received three times more warnings of attacks in July than in June, warns West Bank still 'fragile'

Judah Ari Gross is The Times of Israel's military correspondent.

Israeli police clash with Palestinian protesters during a protest against metal detectors that were placed at gates to the Temple Mount, in the West Bank city of Bethlehem on July 19, 2017 (Wisam Hashlamoun/Flash90)
Israeli police clash with Palestinian protesters during a protest against metal detectors that were placed at gates to the Temple Mount, in the West Bank city of Bethlehem on July 19, 2017 (Wisam Hashlamoun/Flash90)

The Shin Bet security service has noted a significant increase — a threefold rise, by one metric — in terrorist activities in the wake of July’s Temple Mount crisis, the agency’s chief said Sunday.

Addressing ministers at the weekly cabinet meeting, Nadav Argaman said that July and August, the Shin Bet prevented approximately 70 terror attacks. He added that since the beginning of the year, his agency has thwarted some 200 terror attacks, including suicide bombings, shootings and kidnappings.

According to Argaman, following a July 14 attack in which three Arab Israelis shot and killed two Israeli policemen outside the Temple Mount in Jerusalem with guns they had smuggled into the holy site, the Shin Bet saw a threefold increase in the number of times it received advance warnings of attack as compared to the number in June.

Head of Shin Bet security service Nadav Argaman attends a Foreign Affairs and Defense committee meeting at the Knesset on March 20, 2017. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

“This increase is proof in action of the motivation to carry out serious terror attacks, along with a significant increase in the furious and inciting conversation happening on social media, which calls for individuals to carry out attacks,” Argaman told the politicians.

He attributed the rise in terrorist activities during those months to the tension surrounding the Temple Mount.

Following the July 14 attack, Israel set up metal detectors at the entrances to the holy site, which Muslim leaders condemned as a violation of the status quo, sparking a series of violent protests in Jerusalem and the West Bank.

A terrorist who stabbed to death three members of an Israeli family and seriously wounded a fourth in the Halamish settlement also cited the situation on the Temple Mount as his motivation for carrying out the attack.

A second Palestinian terrorist, who stabbed and seriously injured an Arab Israeli man in Petah Tikva after mistaking him for a Jewish Israeli, credited the Temple Mount crisis as his motivation.

Israel subsequently removed all the new security precautions.

While the situation appears to have settled down in the West Bank and Jerusalem following the resolution of the Temple Mount crisis, Argaman warned that the situation is “fragile and characterized by high sensitivity to events that have a religious character.”

The Shin Bet chief warned that the upcoming Jewish high holidays, which are regularly a period of increased tension in Israel and the West Bank, is “again expected to see an increase in efforts by terrorist groups and individuals to carry out attacks.”

Argaman said that “the Shin Bet security service, along with our partners, the IDF and Israel Police, are prepared to provide the citizens of Israel with a secure high holiday period.”

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