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Latest Israel News – 24th July

Terror at Halamish: When a family’s Shabbat celebration turned into a bloody massacre

The victims were celebrating the birth of a grandson when the Palestinian terrorist entered their home armed with a large knife and stabbed to death a father and his two adult children

The family had gathered for a Friday night Shabbat dinner to celebrate the birth that morning of a grandchild.

The Shabbat table was covered with a bright white tablecloth, laden with snacks, bottles of cola and an unopened bottle of whiskey.

They were waiting for other guests to arrive, the door of their home at the settlement of Halamish apparently open.

Instead, a 19-year old Palestinian, Omar al-Abed, from a nearby village, burst in armed with a large knife and began stabbing the members of the family. There were apparently 10 people in the house when he entered.

He killed the grandfather of the family, Yosef Salomon, 70, his daughter Chaya Salomon, 46, and son Elad Salomon, 36.

Halamish

His wife Tova, 68, was seriously wounded and taken to the Shaare Zedek Medical Center in Jerusalem where she underwent surgery on Saturday morning. When she came out, she was given the bitter news — her husband and two of their children were dead.

The couple are survived by three other children; it was the youngest who wife had given birth to the new grandchild that morning.

As Abed continued to stab the victims, the slain son’s wife managed to rush several small children to a nearby room and lock the door. She called the police and screamed for help.

The scene of a deadly terrorist attack in the West Bank settlement of Halamish on July 21, 2017. (IDF Spokesperson)

A neighbor, who serves in an elite IDF unit, heard the cries and rushed over, shooting the terrorist through the window of the house.

Identified only as Sgt. A., from the IDF’s elite canine special forces unit, the soldier said he heard the screams of the victims, ran to the window of the house and shot and wounded the killer.

Sgt. A., who shot and injured a terrorist who killed three Israelis at the Halamish settlement on July 21 (IDF)

“I understood immediately what was happening — I saw the terrorist and shot him through the window,” he said, according to Channel 2 news.

“I understood the situation thoroughly,” he repeated. “I shot into [the house] from outside. I didn’t think a lot. I acted immediately.”

The terrorist was wounded by the shooting. Some reports said that as medics tried to save the victims, he jumped up and tried to attack them, before being subdued again.

On Saturday afternoon Abed was released from hospital and handed over to the security services for questioning.

Photographs released by the army showed the extent of the savage attack. Blood covered the entire floor of the living room and kitchen, staining one corner of the Shabbat tablecloth. Bloody footsteps led up the stairs and stained the walls. A couch and blanket were covered in blood.

Ze’ev Schneider, who was visiting Halamish for the weekend, told Israel Radio that his father was on his way to the family to join the celebrations when the community’s alarm system sounded. Local security told every one to lock their doors and windows as the army carried out searches for any further attackers.

Soldiers later went house to house in Halamish making sure that no one was missing.

An initial investigation after the incident showed that Abed had triggered an earlier alarm when he climbed over the fence of the settlement, but the alarm only went off in the community security control center. He managed to make into the house of his victims, some 150 meters from where he breached the fence, without being challenged.

The IDF was investigating how he managed to walk the three kilometers (2 miles) from his village to Halamish without being detected, and why the first alarm, when he breached the fence, was not conveyed to the local security unit.

The army said it appeared Abed had posted a Facebook post detailing his intention as he walked toward the community. He reportedly had a Quran with him. Before crossing the fence, he apparently performed some type of purification ritual, anticipating he would be killed. Empty water bottles were found at the site.

In initial questioning, Abed said he bought the knife two days ago, wanting to commit a terror attack because of events surrounding the Temple Mount in Jerusalem.

Meanwhile IDF forces early Saturday morning raided the home of Abed and arrested his brother.

Troops were searching the village of Kaubar for weaponry and suspects. They also mapped the Abed’s family home in preparation for its likely demolition. An army official told Ynet the 19-year-old terrorist’s parents were known to be affiliated with the Hamas terror group. Hamas hailed the attack late Friday as “heroic.”

Security forces have imposed a closure on Abed’s village, and only humanitarian cases were being allowed through as the operations inside continued.

Abed’s brother Monir, 21, was arrested. Officials said they suspected Monir aided his brother in carrying out the attack. Security forces said they were looking for any additional suspects in the Halamish attack.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Saturday night expressed his “deep sorrow” over the killings. “This was an act of terror perpetrated by a human animal, infused with abhorrent hatred,” the prime minister said in a statement, released minutes after the end of the Sabbath.

Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman on Saturday visited the site of the terror attack and said Israel was demanding that Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas promptly condemn the attack.

Abbas, he said, must issue “a clear condemnation of the massacre committed yesterday against an innocent family that posed a danger to no one, a terrible slaughter carried out during the family’s Shabbat dinner.”

Liberman was joined on his visit by IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkot, and the two were briefed on recent events by local military commanders.

After consulting with senior West Bank commanders, Liberman said the terrorist’s home would be demolished swiftly.

The attack came after a day of heavy clashes between Palestinian protesters and Israeli police in and around Jerusalem over new security measures at the sensitive site.

Tensions have risen throughout the past week because of the new Israeli measures, which were introduced following an attack at the Temple Mount in which three Arab Israelis shot dead two policemen on July 14 with guns they had smuggled into the holy site.

The measures have included the installation of metal detectors at entrances to the site, which Palestinians reject since they view the move as Israel asserting further control over it. Israel insists, by contrast, that the security measures were necessitated by the July 14 terror attack.

Israel’s Ambassador to the United Nations Danny Danon on Friday called on the Security Council to condemn the terror attack in Halamish.

“The Security Council must immediately condemn this despicable terror attack,” Danon said in a statement.

He also called for international condemnation of the Palestinian Authority’s “hateful incitement” against Israel, saying the West Bank-based government was directly responsible for the deaths of the Israelis.

In a statement, Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said he “deeply deplores” the death of Palestinian protesters, and called on all political, religious and community leaders “to help reduce tension.”

UN deputy spokesman Farhan Haq said Guterres also called for the killings of the Palestinians “to be fully investigated.”

Several hours later Guterres’s office released an additional statement in which the secretary-general “strongly condemned” the terror attack in Halamish.  (the Times of Israel)

Earlier reports:

Israeli father, son and daughter stabbed to death in West Bank home

Three Israelis were killed and another was seriously wounded in a stabbing attack in the West Bank settlement of Halamish on Friday night when a terrorist broke into their home and began stabbing the family as they ate their Shabbat dinner.

The IDF said a Palestinian assailant killed a man and two of his children, while his wife was badly wounded and taken to hospital. The man’s grandchildren were present but not harmed, the army said.

According to a preliminary investigation, the terrorist, a Palestinian in his late teens from a nearby village, arrived in the settlement on foot armed with a knife, climbed a fence and chose the last house on a street near it.

The perpetrator broke a window and entered the home, surprising a family of about 10 inside as they were finishing their dinner, and launched his stabbing spree.

During the attack, another daughter hid several of the grandchildren in one of the rooms, where she called police and began shouting that a terrorist was inside the home.

Paramedics said the the victims, a father in his 60s, his son in his 40s, and his daughter in her 40s, died of their wounds.

The mother, in her 60s, was taken to Shaare Zedek Medical Center in Jerusalem in serious condition.

Palestinian media identified the terrorist as Omar al-Abed, 19, from the village of Kaubar, near Ramallah.

An IDF soldier on leave in a nearby home responded to the screams and shot and wounded Abed through his window, according to Magen David Adom rescue service officials. An MDA paramedic at the scene told The Times of Israel the attacker was wounded by the shooting and was evacuated to hospital in moderate condition.

In initial questioning, Abed said he bought the knife two days ago, wanting to commit a terror attack because of events surrounding the Temple Mount in Jerusalem.

The attack came after a day of heavy clashes between Palestinian protesters and Israeli police in and around Jerusalem over new security measures at the sensitive site, following a terror attack last Friday in which three Israeli Arabs killed two Israeli police officers at the site.

Hebrew media, citing Palestinian sources, reported that two hours before the attack in Halamish on Friday, the terrorist published a post on Facebook calling for the need to defend the Al-Aqsa Mosque, which sits on the Temple Mount alongside the Dome of the Rock sanctuary.

The IDF released a photo of the post in which he wrote, according to a translation: “I have many dreams and aspirations. I know that with Allah my dreams will come true. I loved life, making people smile, but what kind of life is this? They kill our women and youth, defile our Aqsa while we sleep.”

“Take your weapons and resist… I only have a knife and it will answer the call of Al-Aqsa. You start a war amongst us and Allah will judge you for it,” he wrote.

“I hope that after me there will come men who beat you with an iron fist. I know I am going and will not return,” he wrote bidding farewell to his family.

A senior IDF official said that the terrorist was affiliated with Hamas but was not an activist.

Hamas praised the attack as “heroic,” and said it came after “Israel’s attacks on the rights of our people in Jerusalem and at Al-Aqsa Mosque.”

Security forces said they were looking for any additional suspects in the Halamish attack.

MDA paramedics described a “very difficult” scene in the house in the settlement, also known as Neve Tsuf.

“When we went into the house we saw four casualties lying [on the floor] with stab wounds. Three of them were unconscious, with no pulse and [were] not breathing,” said Ohad Amitoun with Magen David Adom.

“Another 60-year-old woman was conscious and suffered stab wounds to her upper body. She was treated at the scene and was evacuated by an MDA intensive care ambulance. She was in moderate-serious condition,” he added  (the Times of Israel)

IDF raids Halamish terrorist’s home, arrests his brother

IDF forces on Saturday morning raided the home of the Palestinian terrorist who murdered three members of an Israeli family the previous evening and arrested his brother, the Ynet news website reported.

Following Friday’s terror attack, IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkot had held an emergency meeting of top army brass to discuss events.

Military leadership decided to temporarily enact a closure on terrorist Omar al-Abed’s hometown of Kaubar, north of Ramallah, and to conduct searches in his family’s home.

An army official told Ynet the 19-year-old assailant’s parents were known to be affiliated with the Hamas terror group.

Ibrahim al-Abed, an uncle, said troops searched the family home and arrested Omar’s brother Monir, 21.

No details were immediately available on the reason for the brother’s arrest. Security forces said they were looking for any additional suspects in the Halamish attack.

The army also said it would further boost forces in the West Bank, in addition the the reinforcements already provided due to tensions surrounding new Temple Mount security checks.

Three family members were killed in the Friday night attack in the settlement of Halamish, just a few kilometers northwest of Kobar.

According to a preliminary investigation, Abed arrived in the settlement on foot armed with a knife, climbed a fence and chose the last house on a street near it. He broke a window and entered the home, surprising a family of about 10 inside as they were finishing their dinner.

He then lunged at family members with his knife and began stabbing them. A father in his 60s and his two children — a son and a daughter in their 40s — were badly injured. All three alter died of their wounds.

During the attack, another daughter hid several of the grandchildren in one of the rooms, where she called police and began shouting that a terrorist was inside the home.

An IDF soldier on leave in a nearby home responded to the screams and shot and wounded Abed through his window, according to Magen David Adom rescue service officials. An MDA paramedic at the scene told The Times of Israel the attacker was wounded by the shooting and was evacuated to hospital in moderate condition.

The family mother, in her 60s, was taken to Shaare Zedek Medical Center in Jerusalem in serious condition.

In initial questioning, Abed said he bought the knife two days ago, wanting to commit a terror attack because of events surrounding the Temple Mount in Jerusalem.

The attack came after a day of heavy clashes between Palestinian protesters and Israeli police in and around Jerusalem over new security measures at the sensitive site, following a terror attack last Friday in which three Israeli Arabs killed two Israeli police officers at the site.

Three Palestinians were killed by Israeli security forces during those protests.

Hebrew media, citing Palestinian sources, reported that two hours before the attack in Halamish on Friday, the terrorist published a post on Facebook calling for the need to defend the Al-Aqsa Mosque, which sits on the Temple Mount alongside the Dome of the Rock sanctuary.

The IDF released a photo of the post in which he wrote, according to a translation: “I have many dreams and aspirations. I know that with Allah my dreams will come true. I loved life, making people smile, but what kind of life is this? They kill our women and youth, defile our Aqsa while we sleep.”

“Take your weapons and resist… I only have a knife and it will answer the call of Al-Aqsa. You start a war amongst us and Allah will judge you for it,” he wrote.

“I hope that after me there will come men who beat you with an iron fist. I know I am going and will not return,” he wrote bidding farewell to his family.

A senior IDF official said that the terrorist was affiliated with Hamas but was not an activist.

Hamas praised the attack as “heroic,” and said it came after “Israel’s attacks on the rights of our people in Jerusalem and at Al-Aqsa Mosque.”

MDA paramedics described a “very difficult” scene in the house in the settlement, also known as Neve Tsuf.

“When we went into the house we saw four casualties lying [on the floor] with stab wounds. Three of them were unconscious, with no pulse and [were] not breathing,” said Ohad Amitoun with Magen David Adom.

“Another 60-year-old woman was conscious and suffered stab wounds to her upper body. She was treated at the scene and was evacuated by an MDA intensive care ambulance. She was in moderate-serious condition,” he added.

Medics

Medics wheel a woman who was injured during a stabbing attack in the West Bank settlement of Halamish into the emergency room of the Shaare Zedek Medical Center in Jerusalem

Israel’s Ambassador to the United Nations Danny Danon on Friday called on the Security Council to condemn the terror attack in Halamish.

“The Security Council must immediately condemn this despicable terror attack,” Danon said in a statement.

He also called for international condemnation of the Palestinian Authority’s “hateful incitement” against Israel, saying the West Bank-based government was directly responsible for the deaths of the Israelis.

In a statement, Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said he “deeply deplores” the death of Palestinian protesters, and called on all political, religious and community leaders “to help reduce tension.”

UN deputy spokesman Farhan Haq said Guterres also called for the killings of the Palestinians “to be fully investigated.”

Several hours later Guterres’s office released an additional statement in which the secretary-general “strongly condemned” the terror attack in Halamish.  (the Times of Israel)

Netanyahu calls Halamish terrorist ‘beast incited by unfathomable hatred’

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is expected to convene the security cabinet on Sunday to discuss the volatile security situation, amid signals Israel is weighing alternatives to the positioning of metal detectors at entrances to the Temple Mount.

Maj.-Gen. Yoav Mordechai, the coordinator of government activities in the territories, said in an interview on BBC Arabic Saturday that Israel has no interest in changing the status quo on the Temple Mount and only wants to ensure that visitors to the site do not bring in weapons that are then used for terrorist attacks, as was done a week ago.

“We have some ideas, including removing the metal detectors that are solely a security solution. We will see what existing alternatives there are,” he said.

The options being considered “will ensure security… so that there will not be another attack,” Mordechai stated, adding that Israel was willing to consider other suggestions from Arab countries.

“We are ready for another solution if the security will return,” he said. “We do not want to change the status quo, but I want to say clearly – we want to prevent another attack at this holy site. Why are the Arab leaders not saying this? Is it permitted for Muslims to bring weapons to the third-holiest site for Muslims, and to open fire?” He pointed out that metal detectors were set up at mosques in Dubai, Kuwait, Egypt and India after attacks there.

Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan is expected to talk to Netanyahu regarding alternatives, including the use of full body scanners, but without conducting invasive inspections of visitors to the site, Channel 10 reported on Saturday night.

The expected security cabinet meeting on Sunday would be the second in four days.

It met late on Thursday night, and decided to leave the decision regarding the metal detectors in the hands of the police. It authorized the police to take any decision necessary to ensure free access to the holy sites, while providing security and ensuring public order. Although the police had recommended installation of the metal detectors, the IDF and the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) argued for their removal, concerned that their use would ignite a new round of Arab violence.

Following that meeting, the Prime Minister’s Office put out a statement saying Israel was committed to retaining the status quo at the Temple Mount and free access to the holy sites. The statement said Israel was also committed to providing security for the worshipers and visitors on the Temple Mount.

The prime minister was briefed throughout the day on Saturday about the security situation throughout Jerusalem and the territories, following Friday night’s terrorist attack in Neveh Tzur (Halamish) where three Israelis were killed.

Netanyahu issued a statement expressing “deep sorrow” at the attack, saying it was carried out by a “beast incited by unfathomable hatred.”

Security forces, he said, were “doing their utmost to maintain security and, to this end, will take all necessary measures.”

A day after violent altercations between security forces and Palestinian rioters saw three Palestinians killed in Jerusalem and the West Bank, clashes between security forces and rioters resumed on Saturday evening around the greater Jerusalem area.

Several masked perpetrators threw rocks at policemen in the Arab-majority neighborhood of A-Tur on Mount Scopus in east Jerusalem. Israeli forces fended off the attack using riot-dispersal methods.

Near the Mount of Olives, rioters hurled rocks and glass bottles at security personnel and were dispersed, as well.

Police also said masked rioters threw rocks and rolled a burning tire down a road in the east Jerusalem neighborhood of Isawiya, while in Shuafat protesters hurled rocks at security personnel.

Police said they managed to contain most of the protests, and no injuries were reported. (Jerusalem Post)

UN chief condemns West Bank terror attack

Secretary-General of the United Nations Antonio Guterres released a statement on Friday condemning Friday’s stabbing attack in the town of Halamish.

A Palestinian assailant entered a home in Halamish, also known as Neve Tsuf, and stabbed four Israelis, killing three and severely wounding the fourth. The wounded is being treated at Sha’are Tzedek Medical Center.

Palestinian media have identified the attacker as Omar al Abed, age 20, from the West Bank village of Khobar, near Ramallah. He was shot by a neighbor.

The Secretary-General reiterated his call “to refrain from any actions or words that could further escalate an already volatile situation.”

Earlier on Friday, Guterres had expressed concern over violence in the Old City of Jerusalem. Palestinians have rioted every day since Israeli security installed metal detectors at the entrance to the Temple Mount compound earlier this week in response to last week’s terror attack.

“The Secretary-General reiterates that the sanctity of religious sites should be respected as places for reflection, not violence,” his spokesman said in a statement.

Israel’s Ambassador to the United Nations, Danny Danon, also reacted to Friday’s attack.

“The hateful incitement and glorification of violence by the Palestinian Authority has led to the murder of innocent Israelis, stabbed to death in their home,” he said.

Danon also called on the UN Security Council to “immediately condemn this despicable terror attack”

“The international community must demand that Mahmoud Abbas and the PA put an end to these heinous attacks and stop their ongoing encouragement of violence,” he added.

For several months now Danon has been urging the UN to “take action” against the Palestinian Authority for paying terrorists who kill Israelis.

Back in May, the ambassador sent a letter to the council pointing out that in 2016 alone, the PA had dedicated “almost 130 million dollars of its budget to paying imprisoned terrorists.”

“They spent another 175 million dollars in allowances to the families of so-called martyrs,” he wrote. “Altogether, the PA paid more than 300 million dollars directly in support of terrorist every single year.”

This amount, Danon said, comes up to about seven percent of the Palestinian Authority’s yearly budget, and almost 30 percent of the foreign aid donated by member states of the UN.

“It is absurd to condemn terror, while at the same time paying terrorists,” he said. “It’s time for the UN, the Security Council, and the entire international community, to finally tell Abbas that enough is enough.”

Danon is expected to raise the issue again at a Security Council debate on the Middle East scheduled next week. He will also hold a press briefing on the topic shortly after the meeting, with the participation of Israeli terror victims.   (Jerusalem Post)

At least three Palestinians shot dead amid Jerusalem clashes

Two Palestinian men were reportedly shot dead amid clashes between rioters and Israeli security forces in the area of east Jerusalem and throughout the West Bank.

According to Palestinian medical sources, Mohammad Mahmoud Sharef, 17, was shot in the neck in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Ras Al-Amoud. Sharef reportedly and died of his wounds shortly afterwards. The Palestinian reports claimed that the gunfire came from a nearby east Jerusalem Jewish neighborhood called Maala Hazeitim.

Palestinian sources also reported a second man killed, Mohammad Hassan Abu Ghanem, 19, from A-Tour. Ghanem was reportedly shot in A-Tour, and died of his wounds in Mokassed Hospital.

The Palestinian Maan agency reported that the bodies of both Palestinians were quickly buried on Friday afternoon, out of concern that Israeli authorities would seize them. Maan also reported that Israeli forces raided Makassed Hospital, although the purpose of the raid has not yet been established.

On social media, it was theorized that Ghanem’s body was ‘smuggled’ out of reach of Israeli forces and buried quickly so as not to be seized by police. WARNING: The following video, posted on Twitter, contains graphic imagery.

Palestinian media later reported a third Palestinian, 17-year-old Mohammad Laffi, was also killed in Abu Dis.

Israel’s Channel 10 reported that a child of eight had died from tear gas inhalation, but that could not be confirmed.

Israeli police also reported disturbances in Ras Al-Amoud, A-Tur, and Wadi Joz, including stone throwing and Molotov cocktails, which resulted in the injury of four police officers.

According to the army, the West Bank checkpoint of Qalandiya as well as Hebron saw the largest riots, with an estimated 600 Palestinians throwing stones at troops at the Qalandiya checkpoint near Jerusalem and hundreds more in Hebron. Troops responded with tear gas and stun grenades in both cases.

At least 200 Palestinians threw stones at security forces at Rachel’s Tomb in Bethlehem, while more demonstrated in the West Bank town of Jericho. A reported 100 others threw stones at Israeli vehicles near the settlement of Tekoa and some 200 others clashed with troops in Qaddum, west of Nablus, and Na’alin, west of Ramallah. Another 100 Palestinians clashes with troops in Beit Ummar, northwest of Hebron.

According to the Palestinian Red Crescent, at least 190 Palestinians were wounded in the clashes with Israeli troops across Jerusalem and the West Bank, including 34 in Bethlehem and six in Hebron.             (Jerusalem Post)

Abbas: Palestinians to suspend official contacts with Israel

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on Friday ordered the suspension of all official contact with Israel until it removed new security measures at a Jerusalem holy site.

Palestinians have clashed with Israeli security forces outside the shrine for days and on Friday three were killed when fighting broke out as people protested against the installation of metal detectors at entrances to the Temple Mount compound that is holy to Muslims and Jews.

“I declare the suspension of all contacts with the Israeli side on all levels until it cancels its measures at Al-Aksa mosque and preserves the status quo,” Abbas said in a brief televised speech after meeting his aides, referring to a mosque forming part of the holy site.

Hours after the announcement, three Israelis were killed and one severely wounded in a stabbing attack in the West Bank town of Halamish on Friday evening.

The Israel Defense Forces reported that an assailant infiltrated a private home in the community of Halamish, also known as Neve Tsuf, north west of Ramallah, and stabbed four Israeli civilians. Three of the victims died as a result of their wounds, and one was evacuated to Shaare Tzedek hospital.

The assailant, whom Channel 2 identified as Palestinian, was shot by a neighbor. Palestinian media have identified  the attacker as Omar al Abed, age 20, from the West Bank village of Khobar, near Ramallah. He left an online manifesto before the attack in which he stated that he felt obligated to act in light of recent events           (Jerusalem Post)

Bennett on BBC: Read my lips – Temple Mount is open

Jewish Home chairman and Education Minister Naftali Bennett explained in an interview with the BBC on Friday that the decision to leave the metal detectors at the entrance to the Temple Mount was made in order “to defend everyone who wants to worship on the Temple Mount.”

The interview was conducted hours before Friday’s deadly stabbing attack in the Samaria community of Halamish.

“The only way that we can defend ourselves is by placing those metal detectors and I think that you’ll realize that there are metal detectors in the Vatican, there are metal detectors in the Western Wall, at Westminster, in Mecca…there’s no reason that we can’t maintain the metal detectors at the entrance to the Temple Mount,” he added.

“The Temple Mount is open to everyone,” Bennett stressed. “The metal detectors are vital for everyone’s security.”

The interviewer pressed Bennett on the issue of the metal detectors, pointing out that the Israel Security Agency had recommended that the detectors be removed, to which Bennett replied, “I suggest that you let us run our country and you run your TV show, because we need to provide security to our citizens, and to the millions of Muslims, Jews and Christians who worship in the holiest area of the world which is the ancient city.”

The police, Bennett pointed out, clearly said that the metal detectors are required and that there are no alternatives.

Asked about the “anxiety” among Arabs that the status quo on the Temple Mount is being changed, the Jewish Home leader said, “Read my lips: The Temple Mount is open. It’s open for prayers. It’s open for any Muslim who wants to worship. Yes, because of the ‘Day of Rage’ today there’s a temporary dilution of the number of people, but that will be removed the moment we see things are quiet.” (Arutz Sheva)

Watch the interview:

White House in Talks With Israel, Jordan and the Palestinians to De-escalate Temple Mount Crisis

The White House is holding talks with Israel, Jordan, the Palestinians and other entities in the Arab world in an effort to find a solution to the Temple Mount crisis and stop the violence from escalating further, according to Israeli officials and Arab diplomats who asked to remain anonymous due to the sensitivity of the matter.

Meanwhile, Egypt, France and Sweden released a statement on Saturday calling for an urgent UN Security Council meeting to discuss the Temple Mount crisis.

Members of the Middle East Quartet – Russia, the U.S., the EU and the UN – published a joint statement Saturday voicing deep concerned at the “escalating tensions and violent clashes” and urged Jerusalem and Jordan to “work together to uphold the status quo.| The statement also condemned the terror attack in the West Bank settlement of Halamish as well as the death of three Palestinians in clashes in Jerusalem Friday.

Israel’s security cabinet is expected to convene on Sunday to discuss the crisis and reconsider whether the controversial metal detectors installed outside the Temple Mount should be removed. The metal detectors, which were put in place after two police officers were shot to death in an attack at the holy site a week ago, have exacerbated tensions.

The White House has been seriously concerned about the escalation over the last few days, but so far has been approaching the issue through quiet diplomatic channels and avoiding public statements. Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser, is handling the talks. Kushner is working on a solution to the crisis alongside the U.S. envoy to the peace process, Jason Greenblatt, the U.S. ambassador in Tel Aviv, David Friedman, and the U.S. consul-general in Jerusalem, Donald Blome.

Over the past week, the Trump administration has been trying to prevent escalation. On Wednesday night, when  Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who was in Hungary at the time, returned to his hotel in Budapest from a Jewish community event, he held a 30-minute conference call with Kushner, Greenblatt and Friedman, during which the four tried to come up with a plan that would reduce tensions.  A source familiar with the contents of the talk who asked to remain anonymous said the White House officials didn’t demand that Netanyahu remove the Temple Mount metal detectors, but discussed security arrangements on Temple Mount and how to implement them in effectively.

A similar conversation was held on Thursday between Kushner and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. Kushner urged Abbas to take action toward calming down the situation ahead of the Friday prayers on Temple Mount and discussed ways to prevent escalation. For his part, Abbas told Kushner that the Trump administration must intervene and demand that Israel remove the metal detectors from the entrances to the Temple Mount. The situation is very dangerous and could spin out of control if Israel doesn’t reconsider the steps that it has taken at the holy site, the Palestinian president told Kushner.

The disturbances in which three Palestinians were killed by Israeli security forces following Friday prayers and Friday evening’s attack in the settlement of Halamish in which three Israeli civilians were killed have made efforts by the White House to calm the situation that much more urgent. Abbas’ announcement that he was suspending ties with Israel has made these efforts much more complicated.

In a speech that he delivered Friday night after a meeting of the Palestinian leadership, Abbas announced that all ties with Israel would be suspended “until it cancels all of the steps that it has taken against the Al-Aqsa Mosque.” Nevertheless, a Palestinian security official has told Haaretz that coordination at the military level with Israel will continue, a statement that Israeli security sources have confirmed.

Alongside the White House efforts, intensive contacts have taken place between Jordan, the Palestinian Authority and the rest of the Arab states to coordinate positions on the Temple Mount. Over the weekend, Abbas called the leaders of Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and Morocco. Meanwhile, Jordanian Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi spoke with his counterparts in Egypt, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Kuwait, Lebanon, Tunisia and Algeria, as well as PLO Executive Committee Secretary-General Saeb Erekat and Arab League Secretary-General Ahmed Aboul-Gheit in an effort to convene an emergency meeting of the League to discuss the Temple Mount.

A number of Arab and Muslim countries released statements of condemnation over the weekend. The Egyptian Foreign Ministry called on Israel to respect sites that are holy to Muslims and to halt the violence and what it said was the excessive use of force against Palestinians in Jerusalem and the West Bank.  The Jordanian Foreign Ministry released two statements in which it called on Israel to remove the metal detectors and refrain from violating the status quo at the Temple Mount. Similar statements were made by Kuwait, Algeria and even Indonesia.

The most explicit condemnation came on Saturday from Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who is the current rotating chairman of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation. Erdogan condemned Israel’s failure to remove the metal detectors, which he said led to Friday’s Muslim prayers not being held on the Temple Mount for the first time in decades. He accused Israel of using excessive force against Palestinians who came to the Temple Mount on Friday and called for the metal detectors to be removed and for the status quo to be restored.    (Ha’aretz)

Metal Detectors and Palestinian Lies

by Bassam Tawil   The Gatestone Institute

https://www.gatestoneinstitute.org/10718/temple-mount-metal-detectors

The slain police officers were stationed there to ensure the safety of Muslim worshippers. The Palestinian spin doctors are attempting to divert attention from the terror attack by making it look as if the crisis began when Israel installed the metal detectors and not when two police officers were murdered.

First, the security measures, including the placement of the metal detectors, was not an Israeli initiative but came as a direct and necessary response to a specific terror attack. The Israeli government did not convene and take a decision to install the metal detectors in order to alter the status quo or stop Muslims from praying.

Second, it was the Palestinians who took the decision not to enter into the Temple Mount unless the metal detectors are removed. The Palestinians and the Waqf are lying to the world by telling it that Israel is denying Muslims access to their holy sites.

The Palestinian opposition to the metal detectors at the Temple Mount means one thing only: that the Palestinians are determined to turn the holy site into a weapons cache and use it as a launching pad to carry out terror attacks against Israelis. If the mosque were then actually destroyed in the process, guess who would be blamed? Possibly that is even the real agenda.

The controversy surrounding the Israeli authorities’ decision to place metal detectors at the gates of the Temple Mount calls to mind the famous Arab saying, “he beat me and cried then came to me to complain.” This inversion of reality is a common among perpetrators who pretend to be victims.

The decision to install the metal detectors came after Arab terrorists murdered two Israeli police officers at the Temple Mount on July 14. The three terrorists — Israeli Arab citizens from the city of Umm al-Fahm — used a submachine gun and knives to carry out their attack. The weapons were easily smuggled into the Temple Mount thanks to Muslim worshippers not having been required to pass through metal detectors or undergo body searches by policemen stationed at the gates.

Incredibly, the Palestinians have since been waging daily protests against the new Israeli security measures, demanding that the metal detectors be removed from the entrances to the Temple Mount. As part of the protests, Palestinian leaders have urged Muslim worshippers not to enter the Temple Mount through the metal detectors and instead to pray at the entrances to the holy site.

The Palestinian Authority (PA), Jordan and other Arab and Islamic countries are accusing Israel of violating the status quo at the Temple Mount by installing the metal detectors.

One listens in vain for a denouncement of the terrorists who murdered the two Israeli police officers — these are the people responsible for defiling the sanctity of the holy site.

We also hear no condemnation of the murder of the officers, who belong to the Druze community in Israel and who were entrusted with preserving law and order at the Temple Mount. The slain officers were stationed there to ensure the safety of Muslim worshippers.

On the contrary — many Palestinians and Arabs have applauded the terror attack as a “heroic operation” against the “Zionist enemy.” The three terrorists, who were killed by Israeli policemen during the attack, are being hailed as “martyrs” and “heroes” who sacrificed their lives in defense of the Al-Aqsa Mosque.

Sadly, many Israeli Arab leaders have refused to condemn the terror attack carried out by three of their fellow citizens.

The metal detectors have one goal: to prevent terrorists from smuggling weapons into the Temple Mount. That is the act that should be viewed as a desecration of a holy site.

Yet, rather than supporting the Israelis’ attempt to thwart bloodshed on this sacred soil, the Palestinians and other Arabs blame Israel for seeking to safeguard the well-being of all people — not least of all Muslim worshipers — through basic security measures.

The Palestinian spin doctors are attempting to divert attention from the terror attack by making it look as if the crisis began when Israel installed the metal detectors and not when two police officers were murdered.

The Palestinians and other Arabs are now crying to the international community that Israel is seeking to change the status quo at the Temple Mount through a series of security measures. They are also trying to make it look as if Israel is preventing Muslim worshippers from entering and praying at the Al-Aqsa Mosque.

The facts, however, tell a rather different story.

First, the security measures, including the placement of the metal detectors, was not an Israeli initiative but came as a direct and necessary response to a specific terror attack. The Israeli government did not convene and take a decision to install the metal detectors in order to alter the status quo or stop Muslims from praying.

Second, it was the Palestinians who took the decision not to enter into the Temple Mount unless the metal detectors are removed. Palestinian leaders and officials the Waqf (a religious trust that manages the Temple Mount compound) were the ones who urged Muslim worshippers to stay away from the Temple Mount and hold prayers in the streets and public squares in protest against the metal detectors. The Muslim worshippers prefer to pray in the streets and public squares rather than enter the Temple Mount through metal detectors. But now the Palestinians and the Waqf are lying to the world by telling it that Israel is denying Muslims access to their holy sites.

The Palestinian propaganda machine is working overtime to market the false impression that the metal detectors are part of an Israeli scheme to spark a religious war with Muslims and destroy the Al-Aqsa Mosque. It appears, however, that quite the opposite is true. The incitement of Palestinian and Waqf officials suggests that it is they who are hell-bent on triggering a religious war with Israel and Jews.

This incitement began more than two years ago, when Palestinian and Waqf leaders started telling their people and the rest of the world that Israel was planning to destroy the Al-Aqsa Mosque and that Jews visiting the Temple Mount were “defiling with their filthy feet” an Islamic holy site. Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas was the first to pronounce this blood libel, which triggered a wave of knife and car-ramming attacks against Israelis that continues to this day.

The three terrorists who carried out the July 14 attack were acting precisely in accordance with the instructions of Abbas and other Palestinian and Muslim leaders: that it is the duty of Muslims to defend the Al-Aqsa Mosque from Jews. In that sense, this attack should be seen in the context of the ongoing wave of terror attacks against Israel that began in late 2015 and which is known as the “Knife Intifada.”

Since then, the Palestinians have been using visits by Jews to the Temple Mount as an excuse to launch terror attacks against Israel. Palestinian officials and media outlets continue to depict these peaceful visits as “violent raids by Jewish settler gangs into the Al-Aqsa Mosque.” The truth, however, is that no Jew has set foot inside the mosque. The visits are restricted to tours of the Temple Mount compound — something that non-Muslim tourists have been doing since 1968.

In reality, it is the Palestinians themselves who are desecrating the sanctity of the Temple Mount, using the site to launch violent attacks against Jews by hurling stones at Jews praying at the nearby Western Wall.

They have also been smuggling various types of weapons into the Temple Mount in order to throw firebombs and stones at Jewish visitors and policemen. The Palestinian leadership and Waqf officials have also encouraged Muslims to harass Jewish visitors and police officers by hurling insults at them.

Last year, the Palestinians thwarted a plan by Jordan to install dozens of security cameras at the Temple Mount. The cameras were supposed to refute or confirm Palestinian allegations that Israel was plotting to destroy the Al-Aqsa Mosque. The Jordanians backed off from their plan after Palestinian intimidation, including the threat to destroy the cameras.

Why protest the plan? The Palestinians were afraid that their violence, harassment and amassing of weapons to attack Jewish visitors and police officers would be captured on camera.

Redux: Palestinian are twisting reality again, only this time with metal detectors. They are worried that the metal detectors will stop them from smuggling knives and firearms into the Temple Mount.

One wonders — if the draw of the Al-Aqsa Mosque is prayer, why worry about metal detectors? Thousands of Palestinians pass every day through metal detectors on their way into Israel, and all that happens is that they get to work. Similarly, Palestinians and Israelis alike pass every day through metal detectors at shopping malls and state institutions, such as the Post Office, the National Insurance Institute, hospitals and medical centers. Where is the outcry?

The Palestinian opposition to the metal detectors at the Temple Mount means one thing only: that the Palestinians are determined to turn the holy site into a weapons cache and use it as a launching pad to carry out terror attacks against Israelis. If the mosque were then actually destroyed in the process, guess who would be blamed? Possibly that is even the real agenda. Who among the international community would like to sign off on that?

The argument is about Jews, not metal detectors

by Jonathan S. Tobin                JNS

http://www.jns.org/latest-articles/2017/7/21/the-argument-is-about-jews-not-metal-detectors#.WXRhv–QzIU=

To an objective observer, the crisis that erupted in the aftermath of a bloody terror attack near Jerusalem’s Temple Mount makes no sense.

Three Arab terrorists used guns they had smuggled up to the compound July 14 to kill two Israeli policemen, both of whom happened to be Druze rather than Jewish. In response, Israeli authorities set up metal detectors to prevent a recurrence of the crime. The response to this from Palestinians was general outrage, violence and a promise of mass riots if the offending machines were not immediately removed. Upon Friday afternoon prayers July 21, with Israel facing the prospect of even more violence that might get out of control, the metal detectors remained in place.

How could putting metal detectors to protect a holy site be considered a casus belli for what might, if the conflict escalated in the way the Muslim rioters promised, lead to a new holy war?

The answer is that this isn’t about metal detectors. It’s about something much bigger: the right of Jews to be in Jerusalem.

This isn’t another variation on the usual theme sounded from Israel’s critics about the infringement of Palestinian rights. To the contrary, Israel didn’t change the status quo at the Temple Mount, which denies Jews the right to pray at the holiest place in Judaism. The Islamic Waqf was left in charge of Jerusalem’s mosques, including the Temple Mount’s Al-Aqsa, inviolate.

Nor was the new security measure discriminatory. Any Jew or non-Jew who wishes to enter the Western Wall plaza below the Temple Mount compound must also pass through security, including metal detectors. The same is true for Muslims who wish to enter the holy places in Mecca during their annual pilgrimages.

So what exactly is this all about?

For a century, Palestinian Arab leaders have been playing the “Al-Aqsa is in danger” card. The cries that Jews were seeking to destroy the mosques or in some way harm Muslim rights led to a series of pogroms against Jews, including the riots of 1929 in which Jews were massacred in Hebron. But the appeal to holy war isn’t only a vestige of the horrors of the distant past and the influence of the Nazi sympathizer Haj Amin al-Husseini, the mufti of Jerusalem who incited those riots.

It was the supposedly moderate Mahmoud Abbas, president of the Palestinian Authority (PA), whose inflammatory statements helped incite the so-called “stabbing intifada” in recent years by also claiming Jews were going to harm the mosques. It was Abbas, not just his Hamas rivals or other violent Islamists, who called on Palestinians to resist the Jewish presence in Jerusalem. It was Abbas who said “stinking Jewish feet” should not profane the holy places.

Abbas’s motives were cynical, since he was waving the bloody banner of holy war to compete with his political foes. But the impact of his statements gave the lie to the notion—so prevalent on the Jewish left—that a peace agreement could be easily reached if Israel had the will to try for one. His rhetoric sought to remind Palestinians that the conflict wasn’t over borders or settlements, but something far more basic: a religious war that mandates Arab opposition to the Jewish presence.

This is why the PA goes to such trouble to foment fights at United Nations agencies like UNESCO intended to deny Jewish ties or rights to holy places, even those that are self-evidently proof of Jewish history like the Temple Mount and the Western Wall.

This is also why the new security measures are merely the latest pretext for Arab violence intended to make the point that Jews should not merely have no say over the Temple Mount, but have no right to be there at all.

The demonstrations and threats of more violence are just one more power play intended to remind the world that the only solution Palestinians will ultimately accept is one in which the Jews are excluded. So long as this is their goal, it isn’t Al-Aqsa that is in danger, but any hope for peace.