Following several murderous attacks by Palestinian terrorists and a string of riots, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed on Sunday to conduct a “fight to the death against Palestinian terror.”
Although it is not as widely discussed as the later attacks, the current round of Palestinian terrorist violence began on September 14 with the murder of 64-year-old Alexander Levlovich, who was killed while driving home from a Rosh Hashanah dinner in East Jerusalem when thrown objects struck his car and caused it to crash.
The New York Times reported this event as “Jewish Man Dies as Rocks Pelt His Car in East Jerusalem,” as if the rocks threw themselves, or perhaps fell from the sky at random, but it was an outgrowth of Palestinian riots in Jerusalem. The Israeli government began discussing sterner measures against rock-throwers.
On October 1, Eitam and Naama Henkin were shot dead in front of their four children in a drive-by attack by Palestinian gunmen. Eitam Henkin survived long enough to get his children out of the car and urge them to run for safety, before the Palestinians circled back to ensure their victims were dead. The Hamas terrorist organization claimed responsibility for the attack, describing it as “heroic” and calling for more such “high-quality” attacks against Israelis.
Israeli security forces have been conducting raids in the West Bank in a search for the killers, resulting in clashes with Palestinian mobs. During one such street battle, Israeli troops shot and killed an 18-year-old Palestinian named Huzeifa Othman Suleiman.
Two Israeli men, 41-year-old Nehemia Levi and 21-year-old Aharon Banito, died of their wounds on Saturday after a Palestinian terrorist went on a knife rampage in Jerusalem. Banito’s wife and two-year-old child were also injured. A second Palestinian stabbed an Israeli teenager in a separate attack. Police shot and killed both terrorists at the scene.
Muhannad Shafeq Halabi, the 19-year-old terrorist who carried out the knife murders of Levi and Banito, is reportedly a member of Islamic Jihad, which claimed responsibility for the attack. Hamas also issued a statement praising the “heroic operation.”
After a few days of uneasy silence, the “moderate” Palestinian Authority sprang into action after this attack … and condemned the Israelis for taking down the two knife-wielding thugs.
The Times of Israel reports:
In a written communique published on the official news agency Wafa, PA government spokesman Ihab Bseiso called on the international community to intervene following “the killing of two young men in occupied Jerusalem and the series of incursions into cities and villages in the West Bank.”
“The statement made no mention of the fact that the two dead Palestinians had been killed while carrying out stabbing attacks against Israeli civilians.”
“The only solution is the end of the Israeli occupation of our occupied Palestinian land and the establishment of our independent state on the 1967 borders with Jerusalem as its capital,” said the PA statement, which did not condemn any of the recent Palestinian terrorist actions.
On Sunday, two rockets were fired at Israel from the Gaza Strip, prompting an Israeli airstrike on Monday morning. The Jerusalem Post reports that a Salafist organization linked to ISIS, the “Sheikh Omar Hadid Brigade,” claimed responsibility for the attack. This group also claimed responsibility for rocket attacks last month, and is apparently engaged in a struggle with Hamas for control of Gaza.
The Israeli military, however, released a statement “saying that it held Hamas responsible for the earlier rocket attacks on Israel” and struck what it described as “Hamas terror infrastructure in the Gaza Strip,” according to The Jerusalem Post.
The Times of Israel reports security measures in Jerusalem, including temporarily limiting access to the Old City and Temple Mount to “Israeli citizens, local residents, students, employees who work in the area and tourists.”
A statement from the police said that Muslim worshipers would only be allowed into the Old City through the Lions’ Gate, and specified that “Muslim prayer will be limited to males aged 50 and above while there will be no age limitation on female Muslim worshipers,” in an effort to cut down the size of the rock-and firebomb-throwing mobs.
Additional measures announced by the Israeli government include “swifter demolition of the homes of those accused of attacks, broader use of detention without trial for suspects,” and the use of restraining orders to “keep ‘inciters’ away from the flashpoint al-Aqsa mosque compound,” according to an AFP report.
Prime Minister Netanyahu, freshly returned from addressing the United Nations in New York, held an emergency meeting with Israeli defense ministers and police officials on Sunday. “I’d like to send condolences to the families of those murdered and to wish a speedy recovery to the wounded,” Netanyahu said after the meeting, as quoted by The Jerusalem Post. “We are in the midst of a bitter war to the end against Palestinian terrorism.”