The issue is no longer east Yerushalayim. Now we are talking about the heart of the capital.
The shooting of Yehuda Glick occurred a mere 300 yards from the prime minister’s residence, less than half a mile from the president’s residence, one minute from the King David Hotel, and two minutes from the hotel and tourism center of the city.
In recent weeks, senior government officials and those outside it have rushed to accuse Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu for letting Yerushalayim go to ruin. The worst came this week, after the assassination attempt on Yehuda Glick.
This was the most egregious example yet that the security forces have lost control of the city. The attack this time targeted not a rail station or a cemetery, but a public figure in the Jewish community. If any proof was needed that those responsible for public security should step down and let someone else take over, this was it.
In what other country in the world would the minister for public security remain in his post after months of rioting and rampage in the nation’s capital? Within days of an unauthorized visitor gaining entry to the White House, the head of security was dismissed, whereas in Yerushalayim, they retain their jobs, making promises, manufacturing excuses, even as anarchy swallows up the citizenry. The time for discussion has passed. It is incumbent now upon Netanyahu to put new people in place who will make the determined effort necessary to restore order.
Yehuda Glick’s assailant, Mu’taz Hejazi, like 80 percent of the terrorists staging attacks in the country, in Yerushalayim in particular, have been perpetrated by Palestinians working in the city, for Jews. The kidnappers and murderers of the three Israeli teenagers in June bought the kippahs they had on their heads in the Yerushalayim neighborhood where they were employed. That’s where they got the sifrei kodesh which they put on the dashboard to make it look like they were Jews.
It was the same with Moataz Hejazi, who arrived at his workplace, a cafeteria in the Begin Center, with a concealed pistol. He wasn’t checked at the entrance because he was known to the security guards as an employee.
Nor did they bother to check into his past. Had they done so, they would have identified him right off as a dangerous terrorist. Hejazi had sat in an Israeli prison for six years for major acts of arson in the Yerushalayim Forest and elsewhere, and was classified as a dangerous prisoner, after he had tried to stab prison guards on at least two occasions.
Had he wanted to, Yehuda Glick’s assailant could have shot at the five members of Knesset who were also in attendance at the Begin Center on Wednesday night. Instead, he chose to aim his weapon at Yehuda Glick, who had become a symbol of Muslim.
In the final analysis, this is a struggle for sovereignty. The Arabs view themselves as having sovereignty in the capital, and the Israelis pretend that they do.
The addition of 1,000 Border Police and the launch of surveillance balloons are not the answer. They did not — and would not — prevent Wednesday night’s shooting. The government has to change its entire approach to the problem.
The conduct of the police in this case is unforgivable. Glick had complained repeatedly of death threats, which could be seen posted online by Arab terrorists. Yet the police failed to take the justified fears of one of its citizens seriously. They did nothing to protect him.
Three weeks ago, Yerushalayim mayor Nir Barkat sent a letter to Minister of Public Security Yitzchak Aharonowitch, in which he complained that the police were “not taking serious steps to strengthen security and restore order in the capital…”
What was Aharonowitch’s response? He brushed off Barkat’s appeal for help as “politically motivated.”
What is the answer? What can be done? The Israeli police have in the past closed off Har Habayis to the Arab and Jewish population altogether. They did so once for a full three years, and the tensions gradually disappeared, as the pretext for violence was sealed off. The same solution would work in the current situation.
But that takes firm decision-making…