Minister Calls for Inspection of Palestinians Entering Jerusalem's Old City

Following another stabbing attack on Sunday, Communications Minister Yoaz Hendel said that Israel should create 'sterile areas' to prevent Palestinians from entering Jerusalem's Old City with weapons

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Hendel is on his way to a cabinet meeting in November.
Hendel is on his way to a cabinet meeting in November.Credit: Marc Israel Sellem
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Haaretz

Communications Minister Yoaz Hendel said Sunday that Israel should ramp up efforts to search Palestinians entering the Old City of Jerusalem amid a spike in violence in the area.

"We need to rethink the Damascus Gate and the Old City. It makes so sense that they will walk around there without inspection," Hendel said in an interview with Army Radio.

"If there are a lot of terrorist attacks at the Damascus Gate, then we should check that Palestinians do not enter there with weapons," he added.

The Old City is home to about 35,000 people, and apart from them there are tens of thousands of people visiting it every day to pray, work or study.

Hendel, from the New Hope party, stated that he "does not want to ignite the area," but clarified that he believes the correct response to the situation at the Damascus Gate is the creation of "sterile areas where Palestinian militants do not enter."

The minister also gave his full backing to the Border Police officers, who shot the assailant even after lying on the ground.

"To me, it's very simple: a terrorist should be neutralized when he goes out to attack, the security forces did an excellent job, working professionally," Hendel said.

"After all, he can lie down with a bomb or a weapon in his hands and that is clear to anyone who has been in combat service," he added.

Footage from the scene, near the Damascus Gate, shows forces shooting at the Palestinian suspect at least twice after he was already lying on the ground, seconds after the stabbing. Israel has launched a probe into the fatal shooting and the officers involved were questioned.

Emergency services said the Israeli victim, an ultra-Orthodox man in his 20s, was taken to Shaare Zedek Medical Center in the city in moderate condition. The hospital said his situation is stable.

Police sources said the assailant was identified as 23-year-old Mohammed Shawkat Salameh from Salfit, in the central West Bank.

On Sunday, Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said he "fully backs" the officers who shot the Palestinian assailant, saying in a statement they "operated as expected of Israeli officers."

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas condemned the killing, saying in a statement: "This is a continuation of the Israeli escalation against the Palestinian people." He called the shooting "a war crime."

Last week, Eliyahu Kay, a 25-year-old Jewish immigrant from South Africa was killed by a gunman who opened fire with an automatic weapon in Jerusalem's Old City. The shooter, later said to be tied to Hamas, was shot dead by security forces.

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