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Israel to ‘strengthen’ settlements after shooting attacks in a move that could further raise tensions

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Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has announced a series of punitive steps against Palestinians, including plans to beef up Jewish settlements in the occupied West Bank, in response to a pair of shooting attacks that killed seven Israelis and wounded five others.

The announcement has threatened to further raise tensions, following one of the bloodiest months in the West Bank and East Jerusalem in several years.

Mr Netanyahu’s Security Cabinet, which is filled by hardline politicians who support further Israeli settlements in the West Bank, approved the measures after a pair of shootings that included an attack outside an east Jerusalem synagogue on Friday night (local time), in which seven people were killed.

Mr Netanyahu’s office said the Security Cabinet had agreed to seal off the attacker’s home immediately ahead of its demolition.

It also plans to cancel social security benefits for the families of attackers, make it easier for Israelis to get gun licences and step-up efforts to collect illegal weapons.

The announcement said that in response to public Palestinian celebrations over the attack, Israel would take new steps to “strengthen the settlements” this week.

It gave no further details.

Further violence after shootings

It remains unclear whether the Israeli measures will be effective.

In addition, Mr Netanyahu could come under pressure from members of his government, a collection of religious and ultranationalist politicians, to take even tougher action.

Such steps could risk triggering more violence and potentially drag in the Hamas militant group in Gaza.

The weekend shootings followed a deadly Israeli raid in the West Bank on Thursday that killed nine Palestinians, most of them militants according to Israel.

In response, Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip fired a barrage of rockets into Israel, triggering a series of Israeli air strikes in response.

In all, 32 Palestinians have been killed in fighting this month.

Early on Sunday (local time), the Israeli military said security guards in the West Bank settlement of Kedumim had shot a Palestinian who was armed with a handgun, and released a photo of what it said was the weapon.

There were no further details on the incident or the alleged attacker’s condition.

Friday’s deadly shooting, outside a synagogue in East Jerusalem on the Jewish Sabbath, was the deadliest attack on Israelis in 15 years.

Funerals for some victims were scheduled on Saturday night.

Mourners lit memorial candles near the synagogue on Saturday evening, and in a sign of the charged atmosphere, a crowd assaulted an Israeli TV crew that came to the area, chanting “leftists go home”.

Boy shoots man and son

The attackers in the weekend shootings, including a 13-year-old boy, both appear to have acted alone and were not part of organised militant groups.

Two heavily armed and armoured police officers walk under orange police tape near a car.

Before police could arrive at the scene of a shooting of a man and his son, two armed bystanders shot and overpowered the 13-year-old attacker.(AP: Mahmoud Illean)

In response to the synagogue attack, Israeli police beefed up activities throughout East Jerusalem and said they had arrested 42 people, including family members, who were connected to the gunman.

But later on Saturday, a 13-year-old Palestinian boy opened fire elsewhere in East Jerusalem, wounding an Israeli man and his son, ages 47 and 23, paramedics said.

Both were fully conscious and in moderate-to-serious condition in hospital, the medics added.

As police rushed to the scene, two passers-by with licensed weapons shot and overpowered the 13-year-old, police said.

Police confiscated his handgun and took the wounded teen to a hospital.

The attacks pose a pivotal test for Israel’s new far-right government.

Palestinian leadership halts security cooperation

Both Palestinian attackers behind the shootings on Friday and Saturday came from East Jerusalem.

Palestinian residents of East Jerusalem hold permanent residency status, allowing them to work and move freely throughout Israel, but they suffer from sub par public services and are not allowed to vote in national elections.

Residency rights can be stripped if a Palestinian is found to live outside the city for an extended period or in certain security cases.

Israel captured East Jerusalem, along with the West Bank and Gaza Strip, in 1967.

The Palestinians seek all three areas for a future independent state.

Israel has annexed East Jerusalem in a step that is not internationally recognised and considers the entire city to be its undivided capital.

Israel’s new firebrand minister of national security Itamar Ben-Gvir has presented himself as an enforcer of law and order, and grabbed headlines for his promises to take even stronger action against the Palestinians.

Speaking to reporters at a hospital where victims were being treated, Mr Ben-Gvir said he wanted the home of the gunman in Friday’s attack to be sealed off immediately as a punitive measure and lashed out at Israel’s attorney-general for delaying his order.

The Palestinian leadership in the West Bank, meanwhile, upheld its decision to halt security coordination with Israel to protest the deadly raid in Jenin.

After a meeting headed by President Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah, the Palestinian Authority called on the international community and the US administration to force Israel to halt its West Bank raids.

Article link:
Article source: ABC / AP |Sun 29 Jan 2023

2023-10-24 01:28:30.000000

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