Jerusalem Mayor wants police to go on offensive, says prime minister ‘banged angrily on the table’ during security meeting over violence.
Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat has spelled out his plan for restoring order to neighborhoods in Jerusalem where Arab attacks on Jews have become daily occurrences, and said that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu also forcefully demanded action by the security forces in a recent high-level discussion.
Barkat enumerated the neighborhoods currently under attack – from Armon Hanatziv, Har Homa, and Gilo in southern Jerusalem, through the Mount of Olives area, Issawiya and Silwan, northward to Shuafat and Beit Hanina, where the Light Rail has repeatedly come under brutal attack.
He commended Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, who he said took very seriously the letter Barkat sent him earlier this month, demanding action against the riots in Jerusalem. Netanyahu gathered the Public Security Minister and top police commanders, he said, for a discussion immediately after Yom Kippur. “I have to tell you,” Barkat said, “that I saw the prime minister banging angrily on the table, and committed to make the necessary change, so that the residents of Jerusalem and visitors to Jerusalem, in the seam line neighborhoods, including the Arab neighborhoods, will feel safer than they do at the moment.”
In an interview on Galei Yisrael Radio, Barkat said police special forces units in Jerusalem need to be “doubled” in size – at one point, he said 100 Yassam policemen need to be added to the force – and to adopt a more aggressive posture. Instead of waiting inside the Jewish neighborhoods for Arabs to attack – the forces should enter the Arab neighborhoods and use their intelligence gathering abilities to nip attacks in the bud, he explained.
Barkat denies cover-up
Drones and balloons will start to be used by police in Jerusalem for intelligence gathering against the rioters in the coming days, he revealed.
In order for the steps to be effective, however, punishment also needs to be made more severe, according to the mayor.
Barkat admitted in an interview with Kalman Libeskind that municipal vehicles no longer enter certain neighborhoods because doing so requires a police escort and such escorts are not available.
He denied that the Jerusalem Municipality is trying to cover up the seriousness of the attacks on the Light Rail, and the security situation in Jerusalem in general. However, the mayor appears to have made an about face on this matter from his earlier position, which blamed the Light Rail for reporting attacksagainst it to the press, and preferred to hush-up the “silent intifada” becausethe reports about it were bad for business.
Barkat accused Minister of Public Security Yitzhak Aharonovich of laxness in the face of the challenge in Jerusalem. “Unfortunately,” Barkat wrote in his letter to Netanyahu, “the Public Security Minister isn’t providing Jerusalem police with the needed means so that it can defeat the rioters.”
Barkat said he had seen a video shot recently by residents of Armon Hanatziv, showing them being attacked brazenly by Arab youths who appeared to control the streets, and who were hurling rocks at the residents’ homes:
In his letter to Netanyahu, Barkat noted that since Operation Protective Edge and just before it, “we are witnesses to a significant rise in breaches of public order in Jerusalem and an ongoing harming of the feeling of security among residents of the capital of Israel.”
The so-called “silent intifada” has included several incidents of live gunfire by Fatah terrorists in Jerusalem, at least two near-fatal lynch-mob attempts against Jews, and countless rock and firebomb attacks including on an infant day care center.
“If this continued slipping of the personal security in the capital of Israel is not stopped, we are likely to experience an expansion of the phenomenon into a general threat on all of the state of Israel,” warned Barkat in his letter.