Israel takes hard line after killings

Palestinians gathering near a burning barricade during clashes with Israeli security forces in the East Jerusalem neighbourhood of Issawiya on Sunday.
Palestinians gathering near a burning barricade during clashes with Israeli security forces in the East Jerusalem neighbourhood of Issawiya on Sunday.PHOTO: REUTERS

Netanyahu orders Palestinian home demolitions, extra troops in Jerusalem and more detentions without trial

JERUSALEM • Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has ordered security forces to accelerate the demolition of homes of Palestinians who attack Israelis, deploy more forces in Jerusalem and the West Bank and use detention without trial more widely after four Israelis were killed in two separate assaults.

"We are fighting a fight until the end against Palestinian terror," Mr Netanyahu said in televised comments on Sunday following a meeting with top security officials.

The Minister for Intelligence and Atomic Energy, Mr Yisrael Katz, told Army Radio that Israel might have to consider a military operation to counter rising violence after Palestinians' entry to Jerusalem's Old City, where violence has been rising in recent weeks, was restricted. Israel's top ministers were expected to meet late yesterday to discuss further steps.

Two Israelis were stabbed to death in the Old City on Saturday. Last week, gunmen fired on a car in the West Bank, killing a Jewish settler and his wife.

Israeli-Palestinian violence has been on the rise since mid-September amid clashes at an Old City shrine holy to both Jews and Muslims. The site is in east Jerusalem, an area captured by Israel in the 1967 Six-Day War and later annexed in a move never internationally recognised.

Palestinians seek the territory as the capital of a future state.

The neighbourhood remained mainly quiet early yesterday, with hundreds of police on patrol. The Old City restrictions were in place throughout yesterday while Jews wrapped up celebrations of the eight-day Sukkot holiday.

Only Israelis, tourists, residents of the area, business owners and students were allowed in. Worship at the sensitive Al-Aqsa mosque compound was limited to men aged 50 or above. There were no age restrictions on women.

Closing the Old City to Palestinians "could lead to an escalation of the situation", Mr Mohamed Hawash, a political analyst who teaches at Birzeit University near Ramallah, said by phone.

Late on Sunday, a rocket fired from Gaza landed in an open area in Israel, prompting the army to target Hamas facilities in the northern part of the strip, a military spokesman said by phone.

In the West Bank, a Palestinian was killed yesterday morning in clashes with Israeli soldiers.

The Palestinian Authority has blamed the escalation on continued Israeli occupation of territories that Palestinians want as part of a future state. The armed wing of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad group released by e-mail and on YouTube a one-minute video that showed a member building an explosive belt and preparing to carry out a suicide bombing.

"A new intifada has started against the Israeli occupation, and all attempts to stop it will fail," senior leader Mohammed al-Hindi said in an e-mailed statement, using the word for Palestinian uprising.

Ms Hanan Ashrawi, of the Palestine Liberation Organisation's executive committee, called on the United Nations to offer Palestinians international protection amid the escalating violence.

BLOOMBERG, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 06, 2015, with the headline 'Israel takes hard line after killings'. Print Edition | Subscribe