The Israeli security cabinet Wednesday authorized security forces to seal off “parts of Jerusalem” in response to escalating Israeli-Palestinian violence in the region. The move comes after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed to take “aggressive measures” to prevent further clashes.
“The security cabinet decided several measures to combat terrorism, notably authorizing police to seal off or impose a curfew on parts of Jerusalem in case of friction or incitement to violence,” the security cabinet reportedly said, in a statement released early Wednesday. Soldiers will also be deployed in some areas to assist police.
Clashes in and around Jerusalem have intensified over the past month -- killing at least seven Israelis and 11 Palestinians. Escalating tensions, worsened by Palestinian anger over perceived increase in Jewish presence in the Al-Aqsa and Temple Mount compound in East Jerusalem, have prompted calls for a “third intifada,” or an uprising, against Israel.
Israeli security forces have also been authorized to demolish the homes of Palestinians who attacked Israelis, leading to a further upsurge in violence.
Netanyahu said that the new security measures would be aimed against “those who try murder and with all those who assist them,” urging Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to “stop lying, and stop inciting.”
“We are focused on our mission to fight the murderers and inciters and I am confident that the actions we take will lead to the other side’s recognition that terrorism does not pay,” the Israeli prime minister reportedly said, during an emergency meeting of the security cabinet Wednesday.
Abbas, however, has blamed the rising violence on “acts of aggression” by Jewish settlers, and the use of excessive force by Israeli authorities.
On Tuesday, U.S Secretary of State John Kerry also reiterated international concerns over renewed violence in the region, and said that he would travel to the Middle East soon.
“I will go there soon, at some point appropriately, and try to work to reengage and see if we can't move that away from this precipice,” Kerry reportedly said, addressing an audience at the Kennedy School’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs in Massachusetts.