MKs on the right and left slammed each other during a Knesset discussion on the increasing violence in Jerusalem Monday, with each side calling the other epithets like “traitor” and “warmonger,” among other insults.
The discussion came in the wake of a wave of violence that began Sunday a week ago, the eve of Rosh Hashanah, Arabs began rioting and attack Jewish visitors and police officers to the Temple Mount. The attacks continued throughout the holiday, and expanded to other parts of the city. The rioting led to the death of Alexander Levlovitz (64), who was killed on the eve of Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, in an attack by Arab terrorists, after a rock slamming through his car's window made him lose control of the vehicle and crash.
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu calling an emergency meeting of the cabinet at the end of the holiday on Tuesday night to discuss plans to stem the unrest. On Sunday, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said that security forces would respond much more harshly to rock attacks than they have in the past.
“Rocks and firebombs are deadly weapons,” the Prime Minister said. “They kill and have killed, and so in recent days we have changed the rules for police officers opening fire in Jerusalem. Over the weekend they already used new means under the new regulations, and hit rock and firebomb terrorists. Today, we will allow a further expansion of the police officers’ abilities to thwart rock and firebomb terror, and we will continue to attack rioters… Whoever attacks us, we will attack you."
Later Sunday, Netanyahu met with top aides to discuss imposing stronger punishments on rock-throwers, and allowing security forces to use lethal force to stop them if they are endangering others. The Knesset initiated its own discussion of what to do on Monday, with left and right staking out expected positions on how to handle the violence.
Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan accused the opposition of “without willful intent of helping the enemies of Israel” with their declarations that Israel must hold back and not respond with full force against rock-throwers.
In response, MK Yoel Hasson (Zionist Camp) accused Erdan of “incitement, inviting violence against us.” Erdan is a strong supporter of Netanyanu's push to allow lethal force to be used against rock-throwers. Opposing that is Zionist Camp and other parties on the left. Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein is also said to be opposed to legislation Netanyahu wants to see passed into law that would codify how much force and in what situations defense forces can use lethal force.
In response to Hasson's accusation, Erdan asked rhetorically “how much of a hypocrite can you be? You on the left accuse Netanyahu that his policies are causing the death of innocent civilians, but I cannot say that you are helping our enemies? Do you really think that Israelis have such poor memories that they would believe your claim that the violence just started now – under Netanyahu's leadership? The public is not that stupid, it has not forgotten the truth.”