East Jerusalem shootings Netanyahu calls for strong rapid and precise

East Jerusalem shootings: Netanyahu calls for ‘strong, rapid and precise’ response

Israeli security forces and rescue workers in the Silwan neighborhood of Jerusalem where an attacker shot dead two people on Saturday January 28, 2023. AHMAD GHARABLI / AFP

On Friday and Saturday, the Arab part of the city was the scene of two attacks on Jews. One that killed seven people is the deadliest in Israel since 2014.

On Saturday night, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called for a “strong, swift and precise” response during an emergency security cabinet meeting. Among the measures the Security Cabinet would consider are sealing off the homes of the attackers’ families, arresting their relatives, passing a law allowing their families to be deported and making it easier for Israelis to carry guns.

According to a well-informed local source, the Israeli Security Cabinet has even decided to take action to “strengthen” Jewish settlements in the West Bank. Prime Minister Netanyahu is expected to hold a meeting in the coming days to finalize the details of this strong response.

These measures follow the events of the past two days: Jerusalem was hit by two attacks in quick succession, one of which killed seven people and is the deadliest in Israel since 2014. It took place on Friday evening, after Shabbat prayers, in front of the Ateret Avraham Synagogue in Neeve Yaakov, an Israeli-settled area in eastern Jerusalem occupied by Israel since 1967.

The attacker, Khayir Alqam, was a 21-year-old man from Ras El Amoud, a Palestinian neighborhood in East Jerusalem. The night from Friday to Saturday was marked by riots near the old city of Jerusalem. The next morning, Silouan, another Palestinian neighborhood in East Jerusalem, was the scene of a second attack. It took place near the City of David, an Israeli archaeological site at the foot of the walls, near the esplanade of the mosques. A 13-year-old Palestinian boy, a resident of the neighborhood, shot at Israeli passers-by, gunmen who returned fire. The attack left two injured, the attacker was also injured.

At the end of the day on Saturday, a new attack took place near Jericho in the occupied West Bank, in which a Palestinian shot at a restaurant near an Israeli settlement. His gun jammed and he fled without inflicting casualties. He was wanted by the Israeli army.

Still tense atmosphere in Jerusalem

The two attacks in Jerusalem have in common that they were carried out by young Palestinians, residents of East Jerusalem. Both unknown to the Israeli police, they chose targets of strong political significance: a settlement area inhabited by ultra-Orthodox Jews and an archaeological site believed by Israelis to be the origin of the royal city of David. Israeli security forces are concerned about new similar counterfeit attacks, while so far the violence has been mostly contained within the West Bank.

At the end of Saturday day, the atmosphere in Jerusalem, where additional police forces were deployed, was still tense. Three battalions of the Israeli army were also sent to the West Bank as reinforcements. On Saturday evening, the Israeli police chief invited Israeli gun owners to keep them and use them if necessary. ยป

“The language between us and the occupier is that of arms!”

The Palestinian Authority has suspended its security cooperation with Israel since an operation by the Israeli army on Thursday morning in Jenin that killed nine Palestinians. In a statement released on Saturday after a meeting chaired by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, she maintained that stance, saying without mentioning the attacks in Jerusalem, “the Israeli occupation government is responsible for the dangerous escalation.” caused by its crimes (…) , its policy of colonization (…) and desecration of holy places, Muslims and Christians. A video on Instagram on Saturday showed the secretary of Fatah – Mahmoud Abbas’ party – in Jenin. With the M16 rifle in hand, he admonished the crowd by firing: “The language between us and the occupier (Israel, editor’s note) is that of weapons! On Friday evening, the announcement of the attack on the synagogue sparked jubilation throughout the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

There are growing calls for restraint from both the European Union and Russia. According to the Palestinian Authority, 31 Palestinians have been killed since early January. In 2022, the death toll stands at 144, making this the bloodiest year since the end of the second intifada.

As of Saturday night, we knew the identities of four of the victims of Friday’s attack: a married couple in their 40s, Eli and Natalie Mizrah, a 50-year-old, Rafael Ben-Eliyahu, and a 14-year-old teenager, Asher Natan.