The government has decided to take off its gloves, judging by the decisions senior cabinet officials made after more than seven hours of deliberations last night over the security situation and discussions on ways to stem the tide of terror.
All proposals to impose a siege or closure on the neighborhoods of eastern Yerushalayim were taken off the table; instead, the method adopted will be “breathing checkpoints.” Residents of eastern Yerushalayim going out to work or shop in western Yerushalayim have to pass through checkpoints where they will undergo inspection. Concurrently, the security agencies will augment aerial and ground lookout points in order to track any attempts to bypass the checkpoints.
A significant portion of the long cabinet meeting was on the question of how exactly the closures or curfews on these areas will be implemented in Palestinian towns from which most of the murderers have come. The checkpoints will remain open to people coming in and out throughout Israel, and in Yerushalayim in particular, but inspections at those points will prevent the entry of wanted persons, and clothes and packages will be examined to make sure they do not contain weapons or knives. Concurrently, every car passing through the checkpoints will be inspected.
The neighborhoods from which Palestinians will not be allowed to enter freely will span the entire Yerushalayim area, with the intention that terrorists who try to enter will encounter soldiers and defense forces before coming into contact with civilians, and the soldiers will better be able to take them on. Terrorists who do succeed in bypassing the checkpoint and carrying out an attack will lose their benefits as Israeli ID card holders, and in some cases their families will also lose their benefits and privileges.
Justice officials were also present at the meeting, and they gave a clear outline of what will be permitted and not permitted for now on. The attorney general lifted the bans on rapid demolition of the homes of terrorist attackers.
Prime Minister Netanyahu declared the decisions “harsh steps in our war against incitement and terror. They will be implemented as quickly as possible. Israel will settle accounts with the murderers and those who try to murder, and anyone who helps them. Not only will the terrorists who carry out attacks no longer enjoy any benefits — we will exact a heavy price. Anyone who raises a hand to harm us — will have his hand cut off. We will use, and not hesitate to use, all the resources at our disposal to restore quiet to Israeli cities.”
Israel will deploy thousands more police officers and IDF soldiers into cities. “This is a battle of the entire nation and we will stand up to it. We have overcome waves of terror before. The terrorists have never achieved their goals. They won’t do so this time either. We are focused on our mission to fight the murderers and inciters and I am sure that the steps we will take will bring about recognition on the other side that terror doesn’t pay. Those who execute it will pay the full price.”
Already last night the IDF began deploying forces in Yehudah and Shomron, the seam line areas and near the Gaza Strip. They will reinforce those already working to quash riots and demonstrations from Gazans, who come each day to the border and shoot or throw stones as they try to destroy the fence.
Netanyahu said that inciters would be dealt with harshly, and personally addressed Palestinian Authority Chairman Abu Mazen: “Stop lying, stop inciting. If you want to be a real leader, display responsibility. Stop the incitement in all areas and deny the lies that you and your people have been spreading for several months against Israel, as though it is trying to alter the status quo on Har Habyis. It is a delusion. And you know it better than anyone else.”
Netanyahu also stated that a range of decisions about Israeli Arabs were made, including outlawing Israeli Arab organizations that incite regularly and arresting their leaders. The prime minister then addressed Israeli Arabs and their leaders: “Don’t follow the inciters who want to fire up the country. We want coexistence. If you want to unravel the strings that tie us one to another, do so, but you will not gain anything from it. On the contrary.”
Another decision was made regarding infiltrators. The Israel Police have said that 20 percent of its forces will be focused on fighting infiltrators. There will be raids on workplaces and illegals will be imprisoned and deported. Heavy punishments will be imposed on Israeli employers who provide cover and employment without permits.
Will these steps stem the Arab uprising? It’s not certain. It’s another Israeli attempt to convey a message to the world that Yerushalayim has tried all the interim steps before moving onto military operations, which will probably be the next step in the event that the rioting and killing continue.