As the death toll from the Palestinian attacks continues to rise, top Israeli officials gave advice to ordinary citizens: Carry a gun.
Meanwhile, Israel’s military deployed hundreds of troops to help police quell a wave of deadly shooting and stabbing attacks that have sparked panic across the country.
At least 8 Israelis and 30 Palestinians, including 13 identified by Israel as assailants, died in the past month of unrest. Israel has not been able to stop the violence thus far.
On Wednesday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office released a statement, saying the Security Cabinet authorized the Israel Police “to impose a closure on, or to surround, centers of friction and incitement in Jerusalem.”
The Israeli military also began the deployment of hundreds of troops in cities across the country on Wednesday, marking the first implementation of measures by the Cabinet to counter the terrorist attacks. Israeli Police said 300 soldiers had been added into their deployment in Israeli cities.
In fresh violence Wednesday, Israeli police said an Arab attacker stabbed a 70-year-old woman as she tried to board a bus near Jerusalem’s main bus terminal. The attack comes after a particularly bloody day on Tuesday when two Palestinian men killed two men on a bus in the Armon Hanatziv neighborhood in Jerusalem, according to the Israeli Government Press Office.
Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan on Wednesday posted a photo of a pistol on the office’s Facebook page along with a lengthy message saying that Israeli citizens’ access to guns will be eased in light of the attacks. He described the move as a “force multiplier” in the fight against terrorism.
“In light of the security situation, I have decided to make it easier to obtain a gun permit,” he wrote, according to a Hebrew translation. “In recent weeks, many citizens helped the Israel Police neutralize terrorists carrying out attacks. Citizens trained in the use of firearms are a force multiplier in the struggle against terror.”
He did not detail how the rules on gun ownership would be adjusted. According to Israel’s Firearm Licensing Department, hundreds of thousands of Israelis carry guns, but the civilian gun ownership rate is much lower than in the United States.
The Cabinet also ordered the demolition of the Palestinian attackers’ homes, adding that “no new construction will be permitted at the site where a terrorist’s home has been demolished,” and the property of the attackers will be confiscated by the government. The permanent residency rights of the terrorists will also be revoked.
The terrorists, according to a statement from Netanyahu, weren’t successful in uprooting Israelis “from our land, to destroy our country.”
“The mendacious incitement against us continues. An Arab boy fatally wounds a Jewish child, and after that the security forces stop him and prevent him from continuing on a stabbing spree, and he becomes a martyr supposedly executed unjustly,” Netanyahu explained. “So first of all, he is not dead, he is alive. Secondly, he was not executed; he was attempting to execute others.”
Israel previously said the violence has been fueled by rampant incitement against Jews and Israelis via social media websites spread by Islamic groups and the Palestinian leadership.
Speaking to Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas, Netanyahu stressed that the Palestinian assailants should not be turned “into heroes,” or he “will be held responsible.”
“I would like to add a word to the Arabs of Israel: Do not be misled by agitators who want to engulf the country in flames. We live together. We believe in coexistence. It is very easy to unravel the threads that bind us to one another,” he continued.
The Palestinian envoy to the United Nations, Riyad Mansour, called on the U.N. Security Council to take action to defuse the situation on the ground.
“The international community cannot remain paralyzed while this critical situation continues to escalate and threatens to plunge the region into another cycle of violence that will only bring more bloodshed and suffering and loss of all hope for a better future,” he said in letters to the council, published by pro-Palestinian website Mission of Palestine.