Pre-Pesach Incitement Threatens Renewal of Violence

YERUSHALAYIM -

With Pesach little more than a week away, concern has grown acute that the current downturn in violence will come to an end as incitement persists and Palestinian terrorist organizations attempt to strike during the chag, when large numbers of Jews travel to Yerushalayim and Har HaBayis.

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu told a gathering of the Federation of Local Authorities on Thursday that extremists are “spreading lies” about Har HaBayis to foment riots, The Jerusalem Post reported.

The Shin Bet briefed the Cabinet earlier this week confirming a significant drop in the six-month wave of terror, but the security agency said it could give no assurance that the trend would continue.

“We need patience,” Netanyahu said. “We know that there are attempts, even now, to change the downward trend in the number of attacks. There are attempts, even now, to try to renew the agitation and violence, especially around Pesach and Har HaBayis, as we experienced earlier [in October] during the Yamim Nora’im.”

Netanyahu called on the local authorities, both Arabs and Jews, to calm the situation and “not let an extreme minority” change the current downward trend in terror.

“There is no change in our policy regarding the status quo on the Har HaBayis” he said. “Don’t believe the lies, even those being spread unfortunately by some Knesset members.”

Netanyahu said he has sent messages to Jordan, the Palestinian Authority and the Arab world that it has no intention of changing the status quo.

A leading source of incitement is Arab MK Jamal Zahalka (Joint List), who called for keeping Jews off Har HaBayis “in any way possible.”

Zahalka threatened that an increase in Jewish visitors to the site would ignite a third intifada.