JERUSALEM, Israel – Israel's Security Cabinet met Saturday night and announced a series of tough new measures against Palestinian terrorists and their supporters. The move follows the worst weekend of terrorist violence in Jerusalem in the past decade.
Seven people were killed and three others wounded in the ultra-Orthodox suburb of Neve Yaakov Friday, as the world was marking International Holocaust Remembrance Day, and two more Israelis were shot by a teenager near the City of David on Saturday.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the new anti-terror measures include sealing terrorists' homes so the families can no longer live in them and expelling family members who clearly support the acts of violence.
"Whoever tries to harm us, we will harm him, and those who assist him," Netanyahu warned. "Our response will be strong, swift and precise. "We have already carried out widespread arrests of those who support, assist and incite terrorism."
Meanwhile, family and friends mourned and buried their loved ones. One newly-married couple, Eliyahu and Natalie Ziskin-Mizrahi, were having a Sabbath dinner with their family, when they heard gunshots ring out. They ran out to the street to help the victims and were themselves shot and killed by the terrorist, identified as 21-year-old Alqam Khayri. Police later shot and killed Khayri.
Shimon Mizrahi, Eliyahu's father, told N12 News, "Apparently, at some point, they spotted the terrorist and exchanged a few words with him. And then he just pulled out a gun and shot them both."
Some families are angry about what they believe was a slow police response in an area of eastern Jerusalem where ultra-Orthodox and Arab neighborhoods are side by side.
As a result of the Security Cabinet meeting, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) will assist the police in areas considered to be high-risk. Defense Minister Yoav Gallant and Police Commissioner Kobi Shabtai have agreed on increasing the assistance of IDF forces to increase protection around the city.
"I have instructed the security establishment to increase defense efforts with an emphasis on the area around Jerusalem and to increase deterrence and preventative actions against anyone who is involved in or plans to harm civilians," Gallant said.
Israel will also cancel insurance benefits for terrorist families and revoke their citizenship in an effort to make it more painful for terrorist supporters benefitting from the "pay to slay" system instituted by the Palestinian Authority, which makes ongoing payments to families of "martyrs."
The Security Cabinet also approved a process of to expedite the issuing of gun permits for Israeli citizens who qualify, and will strengthen security protection for Jewish communities in biblical Judea and Samaria (the West Bank), targeted by terror cells in Palestinian cities and villages.
The IDF raided a suspected terrorist hideout in the northern Israeli city of Jenin Thursday, killing 9 Palestinians, seven of whom were members of Hamas or Islamic Jihad.
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken arrives in Israel Monday, in hopes of defusing tensions. Meanwhile, 87-year-old Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas continues what Arab journalist Khaled Abu Toameh called a "diplomatic Intifada" or war of diplomacy against Israel.
Polls show Abbas to be unpopular among Palestinians, and social media sites have been filled with demands for revenge against Israel for the Jenin raid. With Abbas at the center of a growing Palestinian power struggle and Netanyahu moving quickly to bolster defenses against the terrorist threat in Jerusalem and elsewhere, Blinken will have his work cut out for him.
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