The police and intelligence agencies have witnessed a slow but significant reduction in the clashes and terror attacks all over Israel including Jerusalem over the past 10 days, acting police chief Bentzi Sau said on Tuesday. Speaking at a press briefing in Jerusalem, Sau said however that over the next few days, the police expected to arrest hundreds of East Jerusalem youths suspected of throwing firebombs and stones.
As for events on the Temple Mount, which led to the spread of Palestinian violence around the country, Sau said that “in the past two weeks we have brought back calm and order on the Temple Mount; the visits by tourists and Jews are continuing as usual.”
The main reason for the quiet on the Mount was the removal of the Muslim groups that heckle Jewish visitors to area, Sau said.
“There has been a significant reduction in the throwing of stones and firebombs — not just in the Jerusalem area, but also on major roads in the north and south,” he said. “In some places there have been no exceptional incidents at all in the past 10 days.”
In addition to the police’s efforts, leaders in the Arab community have significantly helped lower the tension and decrease the number of clashes, Sau said.
“The quiet has returned to the Arab community and there is no disorder in the cities except for the Jerusalem area, but there too we’re seeing a very significant decrease,” he said.
“We also have to admit that the local leadership has a large stake in what’s happening; some have shown responsibility and done everything to reduce the tension and end the riots.”
The easing of the tension and decrease in the number of clashes will let the police reduce their forces, with hundreds more people, including Border Police reservists, added soon, Sau said. A decision was made Tuesday to add 900 more security guards on trains and buses, who will join the 300 police officers and soldiers now guarding public transportation, he said.
Canine units have now been deployed against stone throwers, and forces from the prison service have been trained by the police to provide additional security.
“We’re not yet in a position of a change in the trend,” Sau said. “There has been a drop, but this isn’t the time to say that this is a change in the trend that can lead to a different deployment.”
Sau also commented on the walls placed in the capital between the neighborhoods of Jabal Mukkaber and Armon Hanatziv, which raised concerns on the right that the city was being divided.
“In professional terms we’re operating in circles of security. We have one circle in the seam between the Arab neighborhoods and the Jewish neighborhoods,” Sau said.
“We’re creating security circles in order to reduce the risk of harming civilians. To do this we’ve placed protective walls in the places where the throwing of firebombs at houses could endanger the residents.”
He said the walls were based only on security considerations, as the police did not deal with political issues.