Just hours after its previous meeting ended at 3 a.m. Sunday, Israel’s security cabinet convened for another urgent meeting. The total of six-plus hours of meetings featured briefings by top security officers, leading to a ministerial debate as to how best to stop the latest wave of Palestinian terrorism throughout Yehudah and Shomron. Also discussed was how to tackle the ongoing incitement and illegal construction in the Palestinian Authority.
At the behest of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman, the ministers approved the construction of 800 housing units in Yerushalayim – mainly in Ramot, Har Homa and Pisgat Ze’ev – and in Maaleh Adumim. At the same time, 600 units were approved for Arabs in the Yerushalayim neighborhood of Beit Tsafafa, near Talpiyot.
The military representatives at the meeting reported that numerous attacks have occurred since the deadly attack on Friday in which Rabbi Michael Mark, Hy”D, was killed and his wife and two children injured. An attempt to run over Jews thankfully ended with no injuries, while nearly 100 cases of rock-throwings and Molotov firebombs have been reported.
The meeting was, at times, quite stormy. It reached a head when Defense Minister Liberman ordered the IDF officers there not to answer questions posed by Education Minister Naftali Bennett. He accused Bennett of attempting to “interrogate the generals” too aggressively; Bennett responded that he was simply trying to understand the situation in depth.
Various ideas and proposals were raised, but, ultimately, no significant new decisions were made. An exception was the majority vote to “deal with” the improved prison conditions of the incarcerated terrorists, and to find ways to stop the ever-increasing illegal Arab construction in Yehudah and Shomron. Over 150,000 such houses have been built, and one despairing minister said he is doubtful that even 1 percent of that number will be razed.
The IDF officers suggested several ideas to intensify activity against terrorist elements and infrastructures, which were accepted. Some ministers proposed that social-network operators be contacted and urged to ban incitement against Israel via their media. Cyber and legal experts, however, expressed skepticism that the legal and practical obstacles to such a course could be overcome.
During the course of the meeting, it was learned that a Hamas rocket had been fired into the city of Sderot. The ministers responded by arguing as to how best to respond, until Defense Minister Lieberman declared, “If the conflict expands and there is an escalation in the south, we will have no choice but to act to defeat Hamas.”