Netanyahu Orders Crackdown on East Jerusalem Riots

Prime minister asks security forces to stem violence 'in fundamental manner.'

Nir Hasson
Nir Hasson
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Nir Hasson
Nir Hasson

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Tuesday ordered security forces to crack down on riots in East Jerusalem in the wake of continued violence in the area.

Netanyahu convened relevant officials on Tuesday morning and asked for reinforced deployment in areas of unrest.

Among the officials at the meeting were Public Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch, Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat, Police Commissioner Yohanan Danino, Shin Bet security service director Yoram Cohen and Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein.

Netanyahu called on security officials to stem the violence "not just ahead of the holidays, but in a fundamental manner." The purpose of the meeting, he said, was to "see which forces, which capabilities and which steps we must employ to ensure the safety of Jerusalem."

In July, as the conflict in Gaza intensified, some 360 violent incidents were reported in Jerusalem's Old City and the adjacent neighborhoods – a significant rise compared to the same period last year, when less than 200 such incidents were reported.

Last month, Haaretz reported that more minors than ever before have been involved in recent violent incidents in East Jerusalem. Of the 760 suspects who were arrested during violent protests over the summer, 260 were under the age of 18. Dozens were under the age of 12, the age of criminal responsibility.

According to the police, the incidence and severity of violence dropped in September. Last month, seven or eight daily incidents in which rocks were thrown at police and Jewish residents of East Jerusalem were reported, compared to double the number in July and August. Nevertheless, minors continued to be involved.

Over the past week, Barkat and Aharonovitch traded barbs over attempts to quell the violence in East Jerusalem, after the Jerusalem mayor sent a letter to Netanyahu blasting the public security minister's management of the crisis.

"The minister and his office are not providing the solutions that are up to the challenge, and do not take significant steps to bolster security and restore order and quiet in Jerusalem," Barkat wrote. "Jerusalem's police command and residents remain helpless."

Aharonovitch's office rejected the mayor's claims.

"The minister's zero tolerance policy toward the rioters is clear to all the forces on the ground," the response said. " in recent weeks, hundreds of arrests have been made against rioters, and the number of disturbances has dropped drastically."    

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