Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has given the green light to security forces to unleash fury on terrorists who are striking at Israelis.
Rabbi Eitam Henkin and his wife Naama, both in their 30s, were driving with their family in the West Bank last week when a car containing at least two Palestinian gunmen pulled up and shot the couple to death. Their children, ranging from 4 months to 9 years old, were in the backseat, uninjured, perhaps because one of the gunmen accidentally shot another gunman and they fled the scene after that.
A five-member cell consisting of Hamas members from Nablus was arrested in the attack. Shin Bet said they admitted their involvement in the murders.
The cell leader, Ragheb Ahmad Muhammad Aliwi, is a Hamas fighter who had served time behind bars and recruited and trained the other members. Zir Ziad Jamal Amar cleared the path for the Hamas car to get next to the Jewish couple and start firing. Yahia Muhammad Naif Abdullah Hajj Hamad reportedly shot the couple and accidentally hit the other gunman, Karem Lufti Fatahi Razek (who was arrested at a hospital when he sought treatment for that bullet wound). Samir Zahir Ibrahim Kusah was driving the car.
Netanyahu this evening commended those who worked quickly to solve the “terrible murder” of the couple.
“We are acting with a strong hand against terrorism and against inciters. We are operating on all fronts. We have brought an additional four IDF battalions into Judea and Samaria, and thousands of police into Jerusalem,” Netanyahu said. “The police are going deeply into the Arab neighborhoods, which has not been done in the past. We will demolish terrorists’ homes. We are allowing our forces to take strong action against those who throw rocks and firebombs.”
The prime minister stressed that these moves are “necessary in order to safeguard the security of Israeli citizens on the roads and everywhere.”
“We are not prepared to give immunity to any rioter, inciter or terrorist anywhere; therefore, there are no restrictions on the action of our security forces,” he said. “We will also lift restrictions regarding action against inciters. We will act against the Islamic Movement which, together with Hamas and the Palestinian Authority, is the main source of incitement.”
Netanyahu reiterated that security forces have “full backing from me and from the government.”
“We are in a difficult struggle but one thing should be clear – we will win,” he added. “Just as we defeated previous waves of terrorism, we will defeat this one as well.”
On Saturday, State Department press secretary John Kirby said in a statement, “We are very concerned about mounting tensions in the West Bank and Jerusalem, including the Haram al Sharif/Temple Mount, and call on all sides to take affirmative steps to restore calm and avoid escalating the situation.”
Standing next to Netanyahu the day after the West Bank couple was murdered, Secretary of State John Kerry suggested that the peace process being pushed by the administration could end all of these slayings. “I hope we can share also the efforts going forward that can reduce and maybe ultimately one day even eliminate any families having to go through these kinds of losses,” Kerry said.
Netanayhu then jumped back in, stressing that “any path forward requires one thing: you have to fight terror.”
“And the terrorists are there; the fanaticism, the zealotry is there; and we have no choice but to fight them,” the prime minister said. “But when we hear incitement that — worse, when we hear praise for the terrorists from our supposed peace partners, we say cut that out, start fighting terrorism. If you won’t, we will.