Palestinians have been rioting in Jerusalem for three consecutive days, and an Israeli victim of rock-throwing succumbed to his wounds. Prime Minister Netanyahu vowed stronger punitive measures for acts of violence.
Rosh Hashana, the Jewish New Year, which this year was celebrated from Sunday evening through Tuesday evening, was marred by a wave of Palestinian terror that swept through the Israeli capital.
Palestinian terrorists threw rocks and firebombs at security forces and civilians at various locations in the city. Several rioters were arrested.
The most severe incident occurred Sunday night when terrorists threw rocks at the car driven by Alexander Levlovitz, 64, who was returning from a holiday meal. He apparently suffered a heart attack before driving into a street pole. Medics rushed the victim to Hadassah Ein Kerem hospital while attempting to resuscitate him. He died on Monday morning and will be buried Wednesday evening.
His two daughters, both in their 20s, were lightly wounded in the attack.
Police noted that there were several reports of rock-throwing in the area where Levlovitz was hit. Police spokesman Mickey Rosenfeld stated that security forces have launched a major investigation and were actively searching for the suspects.
Palestinians rioted for three consecutive days on the Temple Mount, clashing with security forces and then retreating to their mosques, from where they threw rocks, debris, firecrackers and other weapons they had stockpiled, indicating that the incidents were not an instantaneous outburst of fervor, but a well-planned acts of violence.
Police sources said that several Palestinian subversive elements in the capital, including the Hamas terror organization, were operating to destabilize the already fragile situation.
Palestinians also rioted at several locations throughout Judea and Samaria, supposedly in solidarity with those on the Temple Mount.
Netanyahu Examines More Stringent Measures
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu convened an emergency meeting after the holiday ended to discuss methods of contending with the recent wave of terror.
Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon, Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan, Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked, Jerusalem Affairs Minister Ze’ev Elkin, Transportation and Road Safety Minister Yisrael Katz, Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat, Acting Police Commissioner Bentzi Sau, Shen Bit (Israel’s Security Agency) Director Yoram Cohen, Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein, National Security Adviser Yossi Cohen, Foreign Ministry Director General Dr. Dore Gold, attorney Isaac Molcho and other senior officials attended the session.
“We will use all necessary measures to fight against those who throw stones, firebombs, pipe bombs and fireworks in order to attack civilians and police,” declared Netanyahu. “On the eve of the holiday it was again proven that throwing stones can kill,” he said, referring to the Levlovitz tragedy.”Such actions will be met with very sharp punitive and preventive responses. We will lead systemic changes and will set a new standard of deterrence and prevention.”
The actions decided on were mostly administrative, such as changing the open-fire policies, setting minimum sentences for rock-throwing and similar offenses, and imposing heavy fines on minors – and their parents – who commit these offenses.
Netanyahu emphasized that Israel is committed to maintaining the status quo on the Temple Mount and that rioters will not be allowed to prevent Jews from visiting the holy site. Further discussion will be held next week in order to advance these steps, he said.
Netanyahu has made similar statements at a meeting held at the beginning of the month, during which he had declared that he would show zero tolerance for terror.
Police announced the deployment of more forces in the capital to prevent a further escalation.
“On the evening of Rosh Hashana, Alexander Levlovitz – a family man and a Jerusalemite – was murdered. This bloody incident is further evidence that terror is terror – whether with stones or other weapons – and that we must act firmly and appropriately against terrorism,” President Reuven Rivlin said in a statement of condolence Tuesday evening to the family. Rivlin, who was updated by acting police inspector-general Bentzi Sau, thanked police for their efforts in restoring order to Jerusalem while calling for stronger action against terror.
By: Max Gelber, United with Israel
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