Israel responds with punitive measures to wave of stabbings

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Israel said Thursday that it would begin banishing from East Jerusalem Palestinians who stabbed Israelis, as well as family members who supported the attacks their relative carried out.

Attackers, and supportive family members, would also be stripped of their social security rights, Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked said. Their houses would be demolished and they would be dispossessed of their assets, she told Israel Radio.

The right-wing government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says the punitive measures will help deter parents from encouraging their teenage children to “defend” a disputed Jerusalem holy site by killing Israelis.

The last 11 days have seen 22 Palestinian stabbing attacks against Israelis. There has also been one stabbing attack by an Israeli of Palestinians.

Many of the stabbers and their supporters have charged that Israel wants to change the status quo observed for decades at the Temple Mount/Noble Sanctuary, which houses al-Aqsa Mosque and the Dome of the Rock shrine, but also the ruins of the Biblical Jewish Temple.

Israel vehemently denies the charge and Netanyahu has accused Muslim leaders of inflaming the region by spreading “wild lies.”

Netanyahu Thursday slammed Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas for stating in a televised address the previous night that Israel had executed “in cold blood” 13-year-old Ahmed Manasra from East Jerusalem.

“The youth he is talking about is alive and hospitalized in Hadassah Hospital after he stabbed an Israeli youth, who was riding a bicycle at the time,” Netanyahu responded.

“While Israel maintains the status quo on the Temple Mount, Abu Mazen (Abbas), with his words of incitement, makes cynical use of religion and thus brings about terrorism.”

Palestinians have denied that Ahmed and his cousin Hassan, 15, carried out a stabbing attack in the East Jerusalem settlement of Pisgat Zeev Monday. Instead, they charged that they themselves were attacked.

Security cameras however showed the two running with knives after Israelis. A 16-year-old Israeli is in critical condition with stab wounds to the neck.

The worst spell of street violence in years is also an expression of the frustration of a new Palestinian generation at the failure to achieve statehood through peace negotiations.

While Netanyahu blamed incitement by religious zealots for the wave of violence, Abbas countered:

“The Israeli government’s insistence on settlements is the cause of insecurity and instability.”

“Peace, security and stability will not be achieved unless the occupation ends” with the establishment of a Palestinian state, he said.

He warned of a “religious conflict” that would burn not just the region, “but perhaps the whole world.”

Israel also blasted the US State Department for charging that its security forces had potentially been using “excessive force” against Palestinians.

Police Minister Gilad Erdan accused the US Administration of “hypocrisy” and called the criticism “unfounded” and “distorted.”

“Every sane person knows full well how the police in the United States would act if militants armed with knives and axes murdered civilians in New York and Washington,” Erdan told Israel Radio.

“There should be a limit to the American State Department’s hypocrisy,” he said.

US State Department spokesman John Kirby, clarifying earlier remarks by Secretary of State John Kerry, told reporters Wednesday:

“I think, again, without qualifying each and every one of them, we’ve certainly seen some reports of security activity that could indicate the potential excessive use of force.

“And again, we don’t want to see that anywhere. We don’t want to see that here in our own country. So yeah, we’re concerned about that.”

Seven Israelis and 21 Palestinians from the West Bank and Jerusalem – 16 of them assailants who were shot dead while or after stabbing Israelis – have been killed.

Another 11 Palestinians were killed in the Gaza Strip while storming the Israeli border and in an airstrike responding to Palestinian rocket fire.

Some 1,445 Palestinians have been wounded by rubber bullets or live rounds in clashes with Israeli security forces.

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