Netanyahu Orders Security Heads to Take Extra Steps in Wake of Deadly Terror Attacks

PM convenes top security officials after two separate terror attacks Monday, in Tel Aviv and in West Bank, left two dead.

Magen David Adom

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu convened Israel's top security officials late Monday at his residence in Jerusalem and ordered them to take a number of steps to combat terrorist activities across the country.

Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon, Israel Defense Forces Chief of Staff Benny Gantz, Shin Bet chief Yoram Cohen, Public Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovich, Police Commissioner Yohanan Danino and Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein participated in the meeting.

Netanyahu's instructions to the official included increasing the number of security forces in the field and destroying the homes of terrorists.

A 26-year-old woman and an Israel Defense Forces soldier were killed in two separate stabbing attacks earlier Monday, one in Tel Aviv and the other near the same West Bank junction where three teenagers were kidnapped in the June run-up to this summer’s war with Hamas.

At least two others were wounded in the stabbings, which are the fourth and fifth attacks on Israelis over the past three weeks that resulted in deaths or serious casualties.

The woman, Dalia Lemkus from the West Bank settlement of Tekoa, was killed yesterday evening in a terror attack at a popular hitchhiking post near Alon Shvut in the Gush Etzion settlement bloc. She is survived by her parents, immigrants from South Africa, and her five younger siblings.

Other casualties in the crowd waiting at the junction included a 26-year-old man who sustained light to moderate abdominal wounds and was taken to Jerusalem’s Hadassah University Hospital, Ein Karem, and a 50-year-old man who suffered light wounds to the face and was treated at the capital’s Shaare Zedek Medical Center.

A guard at the entrance to Alon Shvut shot and wounded the assailant, identified by the Shin Bet security service as Maher Hamdi al-Shalmon, a 30-year-old Hebron resident affiliated with Islamic Jihad. Shalmon was imprisoned in Israel from 2000 to 2005 after throwing a firebomb at Israeli troops.

Shortly after the Gush Etzion incident, a man was wounded by stones thrown at a bus near the town of Hura in the south.

Those attacks came hours after Almog Shilony, a 20-year-old soldier from Modi’in, was stabbed by a Palestinian man at midday near the Haganah train station in south Tel Aviv. He underwent surgery at Sheba Medical Center, Tel Hashomer, but died of his wounds later in the day.

The assailant, identified in the Palestinian media as Nur al-Din Hashiya from the Askar refugee camp near Nablus, was captured by police, who found him hiding in a building on an adjacent street. He had entered Israel illegally, police said.

Tel Aviv police chief Bentzi Sau said the police had not received any specific intelligence regarding the attack but had been on alert for some time due to recent attacks in Jerusalem.

There has been heightened tension in Jerusalem in recent weeks, fueled by three recent terror attacks, frequent clashes between police and residents in the Arab neighborhoods of East Jerusalem, and visits by MKs to the Temple Mount.

A woman and a three-month-old baby were killed on October 23, when a Palestinian man drove his car into a light rail train station near Ammunition Hill in Jerusalem, running over passersby. The attacker in that case, a resident of Silwan, was killed when he tried to flee.

That was followed by an assassination attempt on Temple Mount activist Yehuda Glick on October 30, which left Glick seriously wounded. His attacker, a resident of East Jerusalem, was shot and killed the next day during a shootout with police trying to arrest him.

On November 5, a Border Policeman and a yeshiva student were killed and several people seriously wounded when a Palestinian man drove his van into pedestrians near a light rail station in East Jerusalem. The attacker was shot and killed by police.

Later that day, a Palestinian driver ran down three soldiers in Gush Etzion, but police say that incident was most likely an accident. The driver handed himself in to police.

Government and defense officials have held several meetings to discuss the escalating violence in Jerusalem. The IDF, Shin Bet and Israel Police fear the violence in Jerusalem is liable to spread to Israeli Arab areas and the West Bank, and that various Islamic organizations, chiefly Hamas, are trying to spark a wave of popular violence by accusing Israel of trying to change the status quo regarding prayer arrangements on the Temple Mount.

Last year several attacks were committed by Palestinians living in Israel illegally, including the abduction and murder of soldier Tomer Hazan in September 2013 and the stabbing of another soldier, Eden Attias, two months later, the Shin Bet said. It said an illegal Palestinian resident was also responsible for planting a bomb on a bus from Bat Yam to Tel Aviv last year.