Israeli forces deployed after violence
jerusalem — Israeli forces fanned out across East Jerusalem and the West Bank on Saturday, carrying out raids and arrests a day after three Palestinians were killed in violent protests and after three Israeli settlers were knifed to death in their kitchen during a birthday celebration.
Israeli soldiers blocked access to the village of Khobar in the West Bank, home to the 19-yearold Palestinian assailant who hopped the fence surrounding the Jewish settlement of Halamish on Friday night and stabbed to death three Israelis — a father and his two adult children — who had gathered for the Sabbath meal.
Israeli officials blamed the killings on Palestinian incitement. “It is a terrorist act committed by a human animal, infused with abhorrent hatred,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said.
Palestinians in turn said it was Netanyahu who was acting recklessly.
Israel and the Palestinians are locked in a showdown over Israel’s decision to install metal detectors at the entrances to the al-Aqsa Mosque compound in Jerusalem’s Old City after a shooting rampage at the site eight days ago. Three Palestinian gunmen killed two Israeli police officers outside the mosque before being shot dead themselves.
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas warned on Friday night that his government would “freeze contact on all levels” with Israel until the detectors are removed.
Israeli officials say that the detectors are vital for security after the gun attack outside the mosque. Palestinians say they will refuse to pass through the devices, which they condemn as another implement of control employed by a hostile force.
On Saturday, Abbas’s political party, Fatah, asserted that the protests “will not stop until a Palestinian victory and the release of the holy sites from Israeli occupation.”
Envoys from the Middle East Quartet, representing the United States, Russia, the European Union and the United Nations, urged maximum restraint by all sides. American diplomats were involved in talks with Israel and Jordan, which oversees care of the mosque.
Israeli leaders downplayed Abbas’s threat to cut off contact, saying the Palestinian leader was bluffing to rally support on the street. The Israelis said that if Abbas really did end security coordination between Palestinian police and their Israeli counterparts, it would be Abbas and his people who would suffer the most.
Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman visited the scene where Friday’s deadly knife attack took place. Israelis were shocked by photographs released by the army that showed the kitchen floor of the home covered in blood of the three victims: Yosef, Chaya and Elad Salomon.
Lieberman called on Abbas to “condemn the massacre that was carried out yesterday against an innocent family that didn’t endanger anyone,” according to the Defense Ministry.
Abbas’s deputies said Israel had unleashed the violence by provocative changes to security at the al-Aqsa Mosque compound, also known as the Temple Mount, a site holy to both Muslims and Jews.
Just hours before he stabbed the Jewish family in the West Bank, the assailant, Omar alAbed, typed a last testament on his Facebook page
“All I have is a sharpened knife, and it responds to the call of al-Aqsa,” he wrote. “Shame on you, you who preach hate. God will take revenge on you. We are all sons of Palestine and sons of al-Aqsa. You, the sons of monkeys and pigs, if you do not open the gates of al-Aqsa, I am sure that after me they will come after you and beat you with an iron first, I warn you.”
Abed’s father told the Associated Press his son believed he was defending Muslim honor. An uncle told reporters that Abed had spent two weeks in a Palestinian jail, where he was interrogated by Abbas’s security police, who suspected that Abed was plotting to attack Israelis.
Security forces frisk a Palestinian man outside Lions’ Gate, a main entrance to the al-Aqsa Mosque compound in Jerusalem’s Old City.