Defense minister says efforts to stem the violence are not certain to work, warns conflict could worsen
(SOURCE) Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon said Friday that the wave of Palestinian terror attacks, which has killed more than 20 Israelis and wounded dozens more over the past two months, is not likely to end soon.
“This wave will accompany us in the coming days, coming weeks, and maybe more than that,” Ya’alon was quoted as saying by Army Radio.
Speaking to the Industrialists’ Union at a conference in Eilat, the defense minister said, “We don’t know if the terror will end soon, or when it might do so. So we must prepare for every eventuality.”
Israel’s efforts to stem the violence are not certain to work and could actually have the opposite effect, he warned. “We cannot promise that things will calm down. They may escalate.”
Ya’alon’s comments came on a day in which eight soldiers were wounded in two separate car-ramming attacks in the West Bank. In an incident north of Hebron, six troops were hurt during an altercation between IDF forces and Palestinian demonstrators at the entrance to the village of Beit Ummar. Five of the soldiers sustained light injuries and the sixth was moderately hurt. Hours earlier, two soldiers were lightly to moderately wounded in an attack at the Kfar Adumim Junction, north of Ma’ale Adumim.
A senior IDF officer said Wednesday that the army was considering recommending a series of steps to ease the violence, including allowing the PA to acquire more arms, releasing prisoners, granting more work permits to Palestinians and alleviating the passage of commercial goods between the PA and Israel.
The officer said the army sees moves aimed at easing Palestinians’ lives in the West Bank as key to stemming the violence, which has seen near daily attacks in the West Bank, Jerusalem and elsewhere for two months.
The IDF recognized Palestinian efforts to quash the violence, the officer said, and also predicted that if left unchecked, the wave of attacks could last several more months and even worsen.
The remarks were carried by several Hebrew-language news outlets.
However, an army source later told The Times of Israel that no such measures have been taken but are only being “considered, and will be made if the security situation returns to calm.”
A senior Israeli official on Wednesday night rebuffed the reported IDF proposal, saying the government would not approve the transfer of more arms to the Palestinians or approve the release of more security prisoners.
The unnamed source in the Prime Minister’s Office, who is close to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, said the government would not okay the moves, but did not elaborate, Hebrew-language news site Ynet reported.
The official added that lawmakers would make the granting of building permits to the Palestinians dependent on international recognition for Israeli construction in settlement blocs, heavily-built areas Israel wants to retain in any future peace deal.
Netanyahu made a similar statement to US Secretary of State John Kerry during a meeting on Tuesday, saying that Israel would not make any gestures until Palestinian terror attacks on Israelis ended, according to a senior Israeli official.
This is not the first time the defense community and government have butt heads over how to deal with violence. Earlier this month, the cabinet voted to outlaw the Northern Branch of the Islamic Movement, a hard-line Islamist group, despite officials from the Shin Bet security service saying the move was unnecessary.
Judah Ari Gross contributed to this report