Netanyahu launches major crackdown to combat Palestinian terror attacks

Netanyahu consulted with security officials on Thursday and announced a number of steps to staunch the wave of terror attacks Palestinians mounted this week.

By Associated Press and World Israel News

Israel’s military launched a manhunt in Samaria on Thursday, setting up checkpoints and blocking roads, after a Palestinian gunman killed two Israeli soldiers at a bus stop outside an Israeli community and sped away.

The IDF named the two soldiers on Thursday as Sgt. Yovel Mor Yosef, 20, and Cpl. Yosef Cohen, 19. Another soldier was critically wounded.

The shooting added to a deadly week in which another Palestinian terrorist committed a drive-by shooting that wounded seven Israelis outside Ofra on Sunday night and led to the death of a baby boy who was delivered prematurely after his mother was critically hurt in the attack.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he would “settle accounts” with Thursday’s attackers, while Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas blamed Israel for what he characterized as a violent environment.

After consulting with top security officials for several hours, Netanyahu announced that Israel would take following security measures moving forward:

  • Accelerate demolition of terrorists’ homes (within 48 hours);
  • Ramp up efforts to apprehend the terrorists responsible for this week’s attacks;
  • Increase administrative detention of Hamas operatives in Judea and Samaria;
  • Reinforce IDF units in Judea and Samaria;
  • Protect roads in Judea and Samaria with checkpoints;
  • Place a cordon around El-Bireh; and
  • Revoke permits of terrorist family members and accomplices.

Netanyahu also decided on Thursday to legalize thousands of homes in Judea and Samaria that were built in good faith but have yet to be granted formal legal status, extending to thousands of residents the right to erect public, educational and religious structures.

Netanyahu also requested that Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit take legal steps to facilitate construction of 82 new residential units in Ofra and two new industrial zones, near Avnei Hefetz and Betar Ilit.

“They think they can uproot us from our land. They will not succeed.”

“Our guiding principle is that whoever attacks us and whoever tries to attack us will pay with his life,” Netanyahu added.

Palestinians respond

In response, Abbas accused Israel of creating a climate conducive to violence and alleged it was inciting against him.

Late Wednesday, Israel killed Salah Barghouti, one of the terrorist suspects in Sunday’s Ofra shooting, and overnight its forces killed Ashraf Naalweh, who was the primary terror suspect in the execution-style killing of two Israeli civilians in Samaria’s Barkan industrial park two months ago.

Both men were said to have been armed.

In Jerusalem’s Old City, meanwhile, Israeli police killed a Palestinian attacker who stabbed two officers.

Late Thursday, the army shot and killed a Palestinian motorist in an attempted car ramming attack.

Israeli officials accuse the Hamas terror group of being behind the recent shootings. Hamas, which rules the Gaza Strip with an iron fist, said that Barghouti and Naalweh both were members.