IDF to bolster troop presence in West Bank; defense minister visits site of Tel Aviv shooting, which has returned to life hours after gunmen killed 4
(SOURCE) Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman vowed Israel would respond to a deadly terror attack in Tel Aviv a day earlier, as the IDF announced it would send two additional battalions to shore up its forces in the West Bank.
Liberman visited the Max Brenner restaurant at the upscale Sarona Market shopping complex in central Tel Aviv, which returned to life with diners and politicians making solidarity visits Thursday morning, just hours after two Palestinian gunmen opened fire Wednesday night, killing four people and injuring 16.
“I came here first and foremost to salute Tel Aviv residents who have again had to suffer a terrible event like this, a serious terror attack, and despite this they are able to return to everyday life and prove that life is stronger than terror,” Liberman said.
“Additionally, I do not plan to speak about and detail the moves we plan to make but, I am certain that I will not suffice with just words.”
The attack is being seen as the first major test for Liberman, who was sworn in as defense minister just a week ago.
Hours after announcing it had clamped down on measures meant to ease Palestinian freedom of movement during the Ramadan holiday, the IDF said it would ramp up its forces in the West Bank with two additional battalions to support the Judea and Samaria Division operating in the area.
The two gunmen hailed from the southern West Bank town of Yatta and were in Israel illegally. On Wednesday night, IDF forces placed a closure on the town and raided the home of one of the terrorists.
The army said in a statement it was reinforcing its troop presence “in accordance with situation assessments.”
The army declined to provide details on numbers of troops, but battalions are usually made up of several hundred soldiers.
Both gunmen were reported to have entered Israel illegally and carried out the attack with makeshift guns that have become the hallmark of a wave of Palestinian attacks.
The Hamas terror group said in a message Thursday morning that the two men were members of the organization.
The head of a regional council in the northern Negev whose jurisdiction lies in part along the border with the southern West Bank said she had been reassured by a Defense Ministry official Thursday that breaks in the security barrier between Israel and the West Bank would be repaired in the coming weeks.
Bnei Shimon Regional Council Sigal Moran said in a statement the council had for years been warning about gaps in the fence through which Palestinians slip into Israel illegally.
Moran noted she had sent a message on Thursday to Liberman highlighting problem in the wake of the terror attack.
“I want to bring to your attention that for many years we have been running a campaign to close the fence in the eastern seam line which is completely broken,” she wrote. “Of all the things involved in preventing an attacks, this can be done and quickly.”
Moran said an aide to Liberman called her in response and told her that work to plug the gaps would begin in a month.
AFP contributed to this report.