Leaders of regional councils from Judea, Samaria and the Jordan Valley protested outside the Prime Minister’s Office in Jerusalem on Tuesday, demanding tougher action against rampant terrorism that has claimed the lives of 35 people since January.
It was the first time that the regional council heads protested the right-wing government. Although Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s coalition was expected to be tough on terrorism, it has struggled to contain the latest wave of attacks.
The protest came a day after Arab terrorists gunned down Batsheva Nigri, a 42-year-old mother of three, in a drive-by shooting near Hebron. Her 12-year-old daughter, who was sitting beside her, was unhurt.
On Saturday, a Palestinian terrorist shot and killed two Israelis in Huwara, located just outside Nablus (Shechem) in Samaria. Ashdod residents Silas Nigrekar, 60, and his son, Aviad Nir, 28, were shot at point-blank range at a car wash in the Palestinian village.
“The situation is intolerable. We demand a change in the approach to security. The continued rise in murderous terror incidents shows the current approach has failed and should be changed quickly,” the council leaders said in a joint statement.
Yesha Council Chairman and leader of the Gush Etzion Council Shlomo Ne’eman said during the protest: “We must define the Palestinian Authority that finances terrorism, teaches terrorism and organizes terrorism as an enemy in all respects, and go to war.”
He said the residents of Judea and Samaria were ready to “absorb the battle” but were not prepared to be sitting ducks in a shooting gallery.
Samaria Regional Council head Yossi Dagan said, “We are very embarrassed that we have to be here in front of the Prime Minister’s Office of a right-wing government. We support this government. We supported thousands of volunteers so that this government would be established, and we want it to be strong.”
Not everyone from the region supported the protest against the government. Efrat Mayor Oded Revivi sharply criticized the regional heads for holding the protest.
“This is the time to stand together against the enemy and to send him a strong and determined message that we won’t move from this strip of land and that we’re certain the army knows its job also facing the difficult challenge that lays before us.”
Defense Minister Yoav Gallant said on Tuesday, “The security apparatus is working with all the means at its disposal to thwart terrorism in Judea and Samaria. Along with the operational effort, we will exhaust the legal options and exact a heavy price from the terrorists, their dispatchers and their supporting environment.”
Earlier Tuesday, Israeli forces arrested two Palestinians suspected of involvement in Nigri’s murder.
The suspects—Mohammed and Sarker Shantir—were captured in Hebron along with the M-16 rifle believed to have been used in the attack.
Netanyahu blamed Iran for the upswing in terrorism while visiting the site of the attack near Hebron on Monday.
“It must be understood that a considerable portion of this terrorist wave comes as a result of outside guidance. We are using means, and we will use yet more, both offensive and defensive, to settle accounts with the murderers and those who dispatch them, near and far,” the prime minister said.
On Tuesday, an Israeli driver was lightly injured after being attacked in the Samaria town of Hajjah. Following a visit to the village’s gas station, the Israeli was assaulted by Arabs who hurled a concrete block at his vehicle, the IDF reported.
The block smashed through the window, hitting the driver’s head. He received medical treatment from IDF soldiers before being evacuated to Meir Medical Center in Kfar Saba for further treatment, said Rescuers Without Borders (Hatzalah Judea and Samaria).