Car ramming prompts Israeli clampdown on Palestinian areas of Jerusalem and West Bank

Netanyahu promises firm response to latest attack, which killed three Israelis in Jerusalem on Friday

Israel is preparing a security clampdown in Palestinian neighbourhoods of Jerusalem and the West Bank while simultaneously expanding Jewish settlements.

The measures were being discussed at a security cabinet meeting on Sunday night in response to a car ramming on Friday in Jerusalem that left three Israelis dead, including two brothers aged 6 and 8. The Palestinian car driver, who was released from a psychiatric hospital the day before the incident, was shot and killed at the site.

The car ramming followed two other attacks in Jerusalem a fortnight ago, also carried out by East Jerusalem Palestinians, which left seven Israelis dead.

According to Israeli media reports, plans were under discussion to advance about 5,000 new settler homes in the West Bank and to legalise a number of illegal hilltop outposts, which would enable them to be hooked up to Israeli utilities such as water, electricity and sewerage.


Speaking at the start of Sunday’s weekly cabinet meeting, prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu, who recently formed the most right-wing government in Israel’s history, vowed a firm response.

“The appropriate response to terrorism is to strike it forcefully and deepen even more our roots in our country,” he said, adding that his government planned to pass a Bill that would allow it to revoke the citizenship of anyone charged with terrorism and deport them.

Far-right national security minister Itamar Ben-Gvir had already called before the meeting for the police to embark on a mission in Jerusalem against Palestinian militants similar to operation Defensive Shield held in the West Bank in 2002 during the second Palestinian Intifada uprising.

However, all the recent attacks were carried out by individuals without links to militant groups. Most Palestinian residents of Jerusalem hold Israeli ID cards and there are no physical barriers between the Jewish and Arab neighbourhoods.

“The truth must be told: for many years there is a lack of governance in East Jerusalem and lack of deterrence. There is no plan to go in with tanks,” Mr Ben-Gvir said but he didn’t rule out “going into homes.”

Senior Israeli security officials warned that acts of collective punishment would only lead to further deterioration.

A 14-year-old Palestinian boy was killed by army fire in the West Bank city of Jenin on Sunday during a raid to detain suspected militants. At least 40 West Bank Palestinians have been killed by army fire so far this year.

Dozens of leaders and senior officials from Arab and Islamic countries on Sunday condemned recent Israeli measures in Jerusalem and the West Bank, where violence has surged. The meeting in Cairo, hosted by the Arab League, condemned Israel’s “unilateral measures” including home demolitions, expanding settlements and visits by Israeli officials to the Haram al-Sharif noble sanctuary holy site in Jerusalem’s Old City, revered by Jews as the Temple Mount.

Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas told the gathering that the Palestinian Authority would ask the United Nations this week to grant Palestinians full membership.

Mark Weiss

Mark Weiss

Mark Weiss is a contributor to The Irish Times based in Jerusalem