Thousands of Israeli soldiers and border police fanned out across major cities and security forces began to erect checkpoints to close off Arab neighborhoods in Yerushalayim Wednesday to stem a wave of Palestinian attacks against Israelis.
Military officials say the use of hundreds of Israeli soldiers along highways and in residential areas is the first such deployment in more than a decade, since the second Palestinian intifada in the early 2000s.
Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu and his security cabinet said the closures were part of a tough new strategy designed to counter a wave of Palestinian attacks that have left the country deeply shaken.
Israel’s security cabinet on Wednesday announced that it would demolish the homes of some of the attackers and strip them of Yerushalayim residency rights or Israeli citizenship, transferring them to the Palestinian Authority, which controls the West Bank.
Netanyahu visited a Border Police base in Yerushalayim on Wednesday night. Speaking about the knife assaults, which he compared to suicide attacks, the prime minister told the troops: “I cannot tell you how long this will continue. There are people here who are willing to die.”
“We do not know how many will commit suicide,” he said, “but the number is not infinite, far from it.” Netanyahu called the police “human shields” protecting Israelis.
The cabinet also approved a recommendation by Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan not to return the bodies of Palestinian attackers, preventing families from burying them in accordance with Muslim traditions.
“The families of these terrorists have turned the funerals into further demonstrations of terror and incitement that allows for further violence,” Erdan said in a statement Wednesday. He also said he would widen the criteria for more Israelis to obtain gun licenses. Read more.