Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu held a top-level discussion in his offices Wednesday, to discuss the deteriorating security situation in Jerusalem and on Highway 443.
In attendance were the Ministers of Defense, Internal Security, Intelligence and Transportation, and Justice, as well as the head of the Israel Security Agency (ISA, or Shin Bet), and others.
Netanyahu said that he will not accept a situation in which rocks and firebombs are thrown at vehicles on a major thoroughfare to Jerusalem and inside the capital. “The policy is zero tolerance for rock throwing and zero tolerance for terror,” he stated.
He instructed that forces on Highway 443 and in Judea and Samaria be reinforced, and that observation and intelligence be beefed up.
In addition, cameras and lighting may be placed all along highway 443. Two Border Police battalions will be added to the forces in Jerusalem, as will about 400 police officers.
A change in the instructions for opening fire against rock and firebomb throwers will be considered, as well as minimum sentences for people convicted of these crimes. The participants were told that judges currently have a problem in meting out harsh punishment against minor, who are often the ones throwing the rocks.
The talk of laxer open fire instructions contradicts recent reports that the IDF has changed its open-fire instructions for warriors serving in Judea and Samaria, making it even more difficult for them to fire at terrorists.
The new instructions determine that only in cases of real danger to life may the soldier fire at the terrorist's lower limbs.
This is a radical change in the longstanding open-fire instructions that call for a soldier to call out warnings to terrorists, then fire in the air several times. If a terrorist ignores these warnings, the soldier was instructed to fire at the terrorist's lower extremities.
The new instructions appear to mean that terrorists can escape the IDF without fear of being shot, after mounting attacks. They also appear to mean that soldiers may not even fire at suspicious approaching figures, even if they continue to approach after having been warned.
The IDF said that “in view of the situation assessment, a temporary order has been disseminated, clarifying the way the forces are to confront threats that do not constitute actual and immediate threat to life.”
In May, it was reported that IDF soldiers have been instructed by their commanders to avoid killing terrorists, even if they spot them as they are about to throw a firebomb or rock at a car. The only time soldiers may shoot to kill are when there is “real danger of loss of life” – but the parameters of this situation were not clearly defined.
Jerusalem is under a full-blown massive terror onslaught – or "intifada," as Arabs call it, according to statistics compiled by the Ministry of Construction and Housing, which operates a security service in the area known as the “Old City Basin.” The area includes the Old City quarters inside the city's ancient walls, as well as the Mount of Olives, the Silwan (Shiloah) neigborhood and the City of David.
The numbers for June and July indicate an average of close to ten terror attacks per day in this part of the city.
In June and July, a total of 580 terror attacks were documented, against both civilians and security forces. These included 477 rock attacks, as well as 28 firebomb attacks against vehicles and homes in which Jews reside. Additional incidents involved throwing empty glass bottles, firing fireworks and damaging property.
The statistics do not include terror attacks in the city's eastern villages and neighborhoods, and this means that the full numbers for Jerusalem are much worse.
The Jerusalem Police said in response that its “resolute” actions against terrorism led to a decline in terror attacks in the last few months, noting that most of the attacks are carried out against security forces, because of the ongoing friction between them and lawbreakers in eastern Jerusalem.