Binyamin Netanyahu is determined to implement harsher penalties against rock throwers and “neighborhood terrorists,” sources close to the Prime Minister said Sunday. Speaking to confidantes, Netanyahu made it clear that he would ensure that the harsher measures, which include opening fire on rock-throwers, would be implemented, despite the opposition of figures in the judiciary.
Netanyahu wants to impose a five-year minimum sentence on rock throwers. Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein thinks the punishment should be 2.5 years, reported Channel 2 Sunday evening. The prime minister made clear that this is not enough, in the top-level discussion held earlier in the day. In addition, the Prime Minister wants to loosen restrictions on security forces to open fire on rock throwers if they are caught in the act.
Standing in his way is Weinstein, who according to reports opposes both plans. Earlier, Weinstein authorized use of non-lethal fire, generally used by the IDF to disperse riots, against rock-throwers. Netanyahu wants forces to be able to use stronger methods against rock-throwers, but Weinstein is said to have expressed his opinion that the steps already authorized are sufficient.
An earlier report on Channel 2 said that police had come to an agreement with Weinstein on the use of lethal bullets on rock-throwers if it was determined that the lives of Israeli civilians was in danger. That has not been confirmed by any other source.
At a meeting with top security officials Sunday night, Netanyahu reportedly discussed both the lethal force issue, as well as the minimum sentence, and said that he would seek legislation to implement both. Weinstein is opposed to any such legislation, preferring that any changes in practices be implemented as a temporary emergency measure. Weinstein has yet to make a public statement on either matter, and Netanyahu, according to reports, has been leaning on the Attorney General to follow through on the Prime Minister's plans, regardless of his personal preferences.
'With all due respect to the court…'
Speaking earlier at Sunday's cabinet meeting, Netanyahu said that "rocks and Molotov cocktails are lethal weapons, they kill and have killed, so the last few days we have changed the rules of engagement for policemen in Jerusalem. At the end of last week they used the new measures under the new directives, and struck the rock throwers and Molotov cocktail throwers."
"We will also reinforce our forces against terrorists, under the simple principle that we apply around our borders and within our territory: anyone who tries to harm us – we hurt them," he added.
Netanyahu also addressed the legislative side of the issue.
"We also began promoting rapid legislation imposing fines on parents of minors throwing rocks and Molotov cocktails," he said, referring to legislation promoted by Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked and Social Affairs Minister Haim Katz late last week. "Of no less importance to me is promoting legislation for determining the minimum sentence for rock throwers, Molotov cocktails and fireworks."
"We cannot accept the principle that in Jerusalem, our capital, or any part of the State Israel, the Galilee or the Negev, people organize mass terror and start throwing bottles at passing cars – or [throw] rocks, killing people," Netanyahu added, referring to the death of Jerusalemite Alexander Levlovitz on Rosh Hashanah Eve.
"This norm will not stay here, it will become the opposite: we will catch you in the act, we will punish you to the full extent of the law," Netanyahu warned. "This is the norm that we seek to instill in all citizens of Israel, all residents of Israel and all the judges of Israel."
"With all due respect to the court, we have the right and obligation to determine this norm, as we have done in relation to sexual offenses, and we will set a minimum sentences rock throwers and throwing Motolov cocktails."