Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu swore not to “barter” over Jerusalem and blamed Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and Hamas for Wednesday’s terrorist attack in Jerusalem as he spoke at two memorial ceremonies for slain prime minister Yitzhak Rabin.
“Peace will come when Abu Mazen stops calling Jews ‘defilers’ and he stops embracing murderers,” Netanyahu said at Jerusalem’s Mount Herzl cemetery, referring to Abbas by his nom de guerre. “Genuine peace will come when the squares in Ramallah and Gaza named after terrorists and those considered martyrs will be filled with protesters calling for the abandonment of terrorism.”
The vehicular attack, he said, was the direct result of incitement by Abbas, including his decision to send a condolence letter to the Israeli-Arab family of the man who attempted to assassinate right-wing activist Yehudah Glick last week in the capital.
“Today’s terrorist attack in Jerusalem is the direct result of the incitement by Abu Mazen and his Hamas partners,” Netanyahu said.
“We are in the midst of a prolonged campaign for Jerusalem.
I have no doubt we will win it. We are utilizing all the forces needed to restore quiet and security to all parts of the city, but it could certainly be a prolonged fight and we must join together all the powers in our country for the fight,” he said.
During the special Knesset ceremony for Rabin, the prime minister said: “Hamas terrorists carry out terrorist attacks and Abu Mazen sends them condolence letters.”
At both ceremonies, Netanyahu spoke of Israel’s physical battle to maintain calm in Jerusalem and its diplomatic struggle for the city to remain the country’s united capital, as he explained that Rabin had also spoken out strongly about its religious and historical significance. Rabin, he said, did not hesitate to build anywhere there.
“We are in a battle for Jerusalem,” Netanyahu said. “It might be a prolonged battle. I am certain we will be victorious.”
When it came to the street violence, he swore he would respond with an “iron fist.” When it came to pressure from the Palestinians and the international community to divide the city, he said Jerusalem would remain united.
“No country in the world is willing to barter over its capital,” he said, adding that this was even more true with Jerusalem, which has been the soul of the Jewish people for more than 3,000 years.
Netanyahu recalled how, 10 days before he was killed, Rabin spoke at an event that marked Jerusalem’s 3,000 years of Jewish history. He quoted the slain prime minister’s words: “In Israel there is one subject on which we do not disagree – the wholeness of Jerusalem and its continued existence and strengthening as the capital of Israel. There are not two Jerusalems; there is only one Jerusalem.
As far as we are concerned, Jerusalem is not a subject for compromise and there is no peace without Jerusalem.”
He added that Rabin later emphasized that “Jerusalem was ours, it is ours and it will remain so forever.”
Netanyahu also recalled how important Israel’s security was to Rabin, noting that as prime minister he would not do anything to harm it.
Security is necessary for Israel’s continued existence, he said, and has to be the basis of any peace deal.
“It can only be thus in our region because any agreement that is not based on security will not last. Paper alone does not keep the peace,” he said.
Hamas and its armed wing, Izzadin Kassam, described Wednesday’s attack in the capital as a “quality operation” that was carried out against “settlers.”
Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said it was a “natural response to crimes, violations, and continued Zionist incursions of settlers into the Aksa Mosque and assaults on worshipers.”
Abu Zuhri called on all Palestinians, especially those living in Jerusalem, to launch “more of these resistance operations” against Israelis as a way of defending the mosque and Palestinian rights.
Another senior Hamas official, Fathi Hammad, also hailed the attack, saying it was a “grave warning to the Israeli occupation against harming Islamic holy sites.”
Hammad said the time had come for Palestinians to launch a “mass revolution” against Israeli “occupation and security coordination [between the Palestinian Authority and Israel] in order to support Jerusalem and the Aksa Mosque.”
Abu Obaida, spokesman for Izzadin Kassam, praised the “warriors” of Hamas in Jerusalem who were defending the Aksa Mosque and paying with their lives. He added that Jerusalem would be the “spark for the battle of the liberation of Palestine.”
The Islamic Jihad organization in the Gaza Strip called the terrorist attack a “natural response to Israeli aggression on the Aksa Mosque and the desecration of our holy sites.” The organization said the fight against Israel is open ended.
Another terrorist group in the Gaza Strip, the Popular Resistance Committees, said Israel is paying a price for “assaulting” the Aksa Mosque. It, too called for more “heroic operations” against Israel.
The Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (DFLP) said the attack came in response to “settler incursions” into the Aksa Mosque.
“The battle with the Zionist enemy will continue for as long as occupation exists,”
the DFLP said in a statement that praised the perpetrator of the
Jerusalem vehicular attack as a “hero.”
Weekend rocket fire from Gaza was response to Temple Mount tension.
Army Radio reports that defense establishment believes Salafi terror groups growing stronger in Gaza and challenging Hamas, likely to launch occasional « jihadi rocket fire. »
The rocket from Gaza which targeted Israel over the weekend was likely launched by an extremist Salafi terror group in response to the recent tensions at the Temple Mount, Army Radio reported on Tuesday, citing defense establishment estimates.
The rocket strike on the Eshkol Regional Council on Friday was just the second such attack since Operation Protective Edge came to an end on August 26.
The defense establishment has noted a strengthening of extremist Salafi Islam in Gaza, challenging Hamas in the Strip, according to the report.
Israeli security sources said Sunday that Hamas has arrested five suspects in the firing of the rocket. It is believed that Salafists fired the rocket against Hamas’s wishes as part of its inner power struggle with Gaza’s rulers.
The assessment in the defense establishment, according to Army Radio, is that sporadic « jihadi rocket fire, » in response to events on the ground such as the Temple Mount tensions, are expected to continue to take place from time to time.
Israel believes that Hamas has deployed forces near the border fence to prevent rocket fire and maintain quiet. However, Hamas is continuing to launch test rockets into the sea and is also acting to renew weapons smuggling into Gaza.
According to the report, Hamas is smuggling in dual-use products that can be used both for rehabilitating the Strip’s rockets and tunnels, as well as for civilian rebuilding purposes.
Hamas is working to rehabilitate its military capabilities, while telling the public in Gaza that its focus is on civilian rehabilitation, according to Army Radio.
Border Police officer Jidan Assad, 38, from the Druze village of Beit Jaan died of injuries.