Israel calls for halt to incitement amid feud escalation
The world must end its silence and condemn "Palestinian incitement" that fuels violence in Jerusalem, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Thursday, just hours after a Palestinian gunman shot and seriously wounded a far-right Israeli activist in Jerusalem, Xinhua reported.
Speaking at a meeting with high-ranking security and law enforcement officials who convened to assess the simmering tensions, Netanyahu said that Israel is facing "a wave of incitement by radical Islamic elements" and also by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, "who said that Jews must be prevented from entering the Temple Mount by all possible means," according to a statement by Netanyahu's office.
"I still haven't heard a single word from the international community condemning this incitement. The international community must stop its hypocrisy and act against the inciters, those who are trying to change the status quo," the premier added.
Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon, Shin Bet Director Yoram Cohen and Police Commissioner Yohanan Danino attended the discussion, as well as the mayor of Jerusalem, representatives of the Justice Ministry and the Attorney General's Office, and military officials.
Cautioning that the struggle over Jerusalem may be "long and drawn out," Netanyahu urged both Arabs and Jews not to take the law into their own hands.
"Like all other struggles, we have to first dim the flames and to act with composure, responsibility and determination," said Netanyahu, adding that he had ordered reinforcements of police and other measures in Jerusalem, in order to maintain security and the status quo at its holy sites.
Other senior Israeli officials echoed Netanyahu in blaming " Palestinian incitement" for the attempted killing of Rabbi Yehuda Glick, a leading right-wing figure who was shot near east Jerusalem Wednesday night, after lecturing at a conference entitled "Israel returns to the Temple Mount."
Eyewitnesses described the gunman as a Palestinian who approached Glick and his wife as they exited the event. The assailant had a heavy Arabic accent and shot his victim a number of times, before fleeing on a motorcycle, Moshe Feiglin, a hard- line Likud lawmaker who attended the conference, told reporters at the scene.
U.S.-born Glick, a spokesman for Israeli groups that vocally advocates lifting restrictions on Jewish access to the Temple Mount for worship, and had reportedly received numerous threats on his life over the years. He was rushed to a local hospital, where he was listed in severe but stable condition.
Israeli media identified the suspected assassin as Muatnaz Hijazi, 32, a member of Palestinian Islamic Jihad who spent 11 years in an Israeli jail for security-related offenses and worked in a restaurant at the Menachem Begin Heritage Centre, where the conference was held.
He was killed hours later in a brief shootout with members of a SWAT unit who came to arrest him at his home in the east Jerusalem neighborhood of Abu Tor, police and the Shin Bet security service said.
"The suspect fired a number of shots at the officers as they approached him. They returned fire and the killed the terrorist," police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld told Xinhua.
Israeli Defense Minister Ya'alon called the attempted assassination of Glick "another phase" of the ongoing incitement against Jews and the State of Israel, accusing Abbas of playing a leading role in the rising violence.
"When Abbas spreads lies about Jews' right to the land and their freedom of worship, the result is terror, like what happened to Glick. It is more proof of what we are constantly saying: the conflict isn't just about territory, rather about the Palestinian refusal to recognize our right to live here," Ya'alon said in a statement.
He called for restraint in Jerusalem, vowing that security forces will continue "to pursue terrorists and lay their hands on them."
Fearing an outburst of violence in wake of the attempted assassination, police on Wednesday night closed the Temple Mount, sealing off the compound until further notice for Muslim and Jewish visitors, for the first time since former Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, who passed away last year, visited the site in September 2000.
Police across Israel were put on high alert, as hundreds of officers were called in from the West Bank to aid already boosted security forces in containing the violence.