Thousands of right-wing Israelis protested Monday night outside the Prime Minister’s Residence in Jerusalem over what they said was Benjamin Netanyahu’s insufficiently tough response to the recent terrorist attacks that have left four people dead.
More than 10,000 people were in attendance, Channel 2 television said, while Israeli daily Haaretz said that the demonstration was a combination of protest and events to mark the end of the Jewish holiday of Sukkot.
The protesters included Likud ministers Yariv Levin and Haim Katz, and MK Oren Hazan, as well as the head of Samaria Regional Council Yossi Dagan, who has been protesting at the site since Friday.
Speaking to the crowd, Tourism Minister Levin branded Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas a terrorist who had no desire for peace.
“Those who think that terror can defeat the spirit of the nation of Israel and can stop us implementing our historical rights in every part of the land of Israel, should see us here today and understand that we will not be beaten,” he said, according to the Ynet news website.
“I say in the clearest way possible – we are here to strengthen the government to do the things that we all believe in. I think that there is a clear connection between the recent terrorist incidents and the speech of that terrorist who calls himself the head of the Palestinian Authority, Abu Mazen [Abbas]. The time has come to state clearly: The PA and he who stands at the head of it not only have no solution, they are the heart of the problem,” Levin said.
“He who teaches his children terror, he who names streets after terrorists, he who pays money to those same terrorists who sit in our prisons, he who does all of this is no partner for anything. He wants many things — peace is clearly not one of them.”
Social Affairs Minister Katz, meanwhile, saved the bulk of his remarks to calls for an accelerated rate of settlement construction, which he said was the best way to send a message to Israel’s enemies.
“We have to expand [construction] across Israel, to Judea, Samaria, Binyamin, Jerusalem,” Katz said. “A construction freeze bolsters the wrong-doers. Freezing construction is perceived as weakness and therefore we need to build more vigorously — kindergartens, schools — to expand the existing communities, to build and set up new communities. The prime minister is the only one who can defeat terrorism and build the land of Israel, and we expect him to do so.”
Katz also called for tougher penalties for the parents of Palestinian children caught throwing stones. “We have to dramatically intensify the punishment and place responsibility for [the actions of] children on their parents,” he said.
“Children have died,” he added, in possible reference to the three young Palestinians killed in clashes with Israeli security in the 24 hours leading up to the protest.
“I have seen things that council leaders in Israel should not have to see,” Dagan said Monday. “We have one word to say: Enough. We have come with our demands to the person who was elected by the people, by us.”
Dagan has been “on strike” outside the official residence since Friday, and has vowed to remain there until Netanyahu “recognizes the rights” of Israelis living in the West Bank.
He arrived at the residence on Balfour Street after attending the funeral of Eitam and Naama Henkin, the Israeli couple shot dead in the West Bank on Thursday in front of their four small children. He pledged to remain there until significant steps are taken to strengthen security for Israelis in Judea and Samaria.
“I will not return home after the murder,” Dagan said. “Yesterday, as far as we’re concerned, as far as the entire people of Israel are concerned, a red line was crossed. We will not remain quiet and not return to our daily routines. A happy family became, with the decision of one murderer, a family that will never be what it was meant to be.”
“I will set up camp here in Jerusalem outside the prime minister’s residence,” Dagan said. “Here we buried our dead and here we will stay, as long as necessary, until the prime minister recognizes the rights of the residents of Judea and Samaria to live and grow, and until he adopts an adequate Zionist response to this horrible murder: [namely] security and construction.”