Israeli police move to seal off Jerusalem
Published 15/10/2015 | 02:30
Israel's security cabinet gave authority for the police to seal off parts of predominantly Palestinian East Jerusalem as one of the measures taken in the wake of yesterday's attacks, which killed three Israelis and injured more than 18 others.
"The Israel Police is authorised to impose a closure on, or to surround, centres of friction and incitement in Jerusalem, in accordance with security considerations," a statement from the prime minister's office noted.
The Israeli military also began deploying hundreds of troops in Israeli cities, with 300 soldiers from six companies already boosting police street patrols.
In addition, the security cabinet stated that no further construction will be permitted on the site of the demolished homes of Palestinian attackers. The perpetrators will also lose their permanent residency rights in Jerusalem.
In an emergency cabinet meeting which concluded in the early hours of yesterday morning, Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu approved the measures which are intended "to deal with the wave of terrorism", a statement from his office noted.
Mr Netanyahu also urged the completion of the country's controversial security barrier in the southern Hebron Hills area of the West Bank.
The moves come as the Palestinian leadership announced its intention to refer Israel's killing of Palestinians to the International Criminal Court in the Hague.
"From one side we are going to contact within the next 24 hours the High Commissioner for Human Rights and ask the Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial Summary or Arbitrary Executions, Mr Chrystof Heyns, to apply his mandate, applicable to all countries, and conduct a thorough investigation into Israel's summary executions and murders of the Palestinian people," said Saeb Erekat, Secretary General of the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO).
"At the same time we are preparing files with information on the latest executions to be sent to the International Criminal Court."
Last week, the human rights group B'tselem released a series of videos filmed by volunteers in the West Bank on October 3, two days after an Israeli couple was shot to death on a nearby road.
One video shows an armed IDF soldier standing with a group of Israelis from the settlement of Yitzhar, known for the radical extremist reputation of its inhabitants. The settlers are seen hurling rocks in slingshots towards Palestinians while the soldier does nothing to prevent the attacks. At one point, he is even helped by a masked settler who is seen carrying his military backpack. The settler is then seen loading tear gas canisters into what appears to be the soldier's six shot launcher.
The IDF said that the soldiers "were given directive to disperse a conflict that had broken out between Israelis and Palestinians" but conceded that "during the conflict a portion of the soldiers acted in a way not compatible with the values expected of IDF soldiers".
"The IDF expects its forces to actively intervene in order to prevent confrontations and vandalism. Both incidences in the videos will be thoroughly investigated."
But this is not the first time IDF soldiers stood by while Yitzhar settlers attacked Palestinians - in 2012, in a similar incident caught on camera, the IDF soldiers were positioned near the settlers when they opened live fire on the Palestinians.
On Monday, a bill calling for tougher punitive measures for rock throwers passed its first readings in the Knesset, Israel's parliament.
One of the measures under consideration is a four-year prison term as a minimum sentence. The bill needs to pass two further readings before becoming law.