Netanyahu warns Israelis: ‘Arm yourself, flames of radical Islam have reached us’

A Palestinian girl uses a slingshot to throw stones at Israeli troops during clashes in the West Bank city of Bethlehem on Oct. 14, 2015. (PHOTO: Reuters)

Originally published in Christian Today

As violence continues to rage throughout Israel, authorities are urging citizens to remain vigilant at all times and to carry weapons, if they have the licence, for their own safety.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu earlier warned that flames of radical Islam burning throughout the Middle East have already reached Israel, prompting them to immediately bar Cabinet ministers and lawmakers from a sensitive Jerusalem holy site, which is at the heart of the latest tensions, according to CBN News.

“We are in the midst of a wave of terrorism. Terrorists that have been incited and who are driven with hate are trying to attack our people – babies, children, men and women, civilians and soldiers,” Netanyahu told the nation.

“Israelis are acting with bravery, composure and determination to neutralise and eliminate the terrorists. This requires extraordinary courage and resourcefulness and we are proud to be part of a country that has such citizens,” he said on live television to calm anxiety.

The Prime Minister has disclosed that in just two days, Palestinians have carried out 10 stabbing attacks in Jerusalem and other cities in Israel and the disputed territories, including two at the Lion’s Gate in Jerusalem’s Old City.

Palestinians have also been throwing rocks and bombing cars amid clashes between rioters and Israeli soldiers.

“The Islamic Movement is igniting the ground with lies regarding our policy on the Temple Mount,” Netanyahu said.

The latest Israeli-Palestinian unrest started about three weeks ago when Palestinians reportedly barricaded themselves inside the Al-Aqsa mosque, located at the sacred site, and hurled stones, firebombs and fireworks at the police, the Daily Mail reported.

The violence later spread to Arab neighbourhoods of east Jerusalem and to the West Bank. On Tuesday there were disturbances in Jaffa, a largely Arab area of Tel Aviv, the Mail said.

Reports said the Jerusalem hilltop compound—revered by Muslims as the spot where Prophet Muhammad allegedly ascended to heaven, and by Jews as the site of the two Jewish biblical temples—is at the heart of recent tensions.

Israel’s move to bar entry to the disputed Temple was reportedly aimed at avoiding a dispute with hard-liners within the government coalition who have been pressing for a harsh crackdown and settlement expansion in the West Bank.

Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat, meanwhile, defended his call to arm citizens in the wake of the growing violence in the city.

“One of the advantages Israel has is that there are many veterans of military units with operational combat experience,” he said. “Having a weapon increases the resident’s confidence.”

Since Oct. 1, the violent clashes have so far claimed the lives of seven Israelis and at least 32 Palestinians. Hundreds more have been wounded in demonstrations and clashes across the West Bank and east Jerusalem, and lately in central Israel and in a southern Israeli town, according to Reuters.

Officials have said that the attacks in Tel Aviv and other areas were carried out mainly by young people with no known links to armed groups.

Last week, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said he would not allow his people to be “dragged” into more violence with Israel and that he was committed to “peaceful popular resistance.”

But he insisted that his “hands are with those who are protecting Al-Aqsa mosque,” said the Daily Mail

The attacks were initially confined to east Jerusalem and the West Bank, territory seized by Israel in the 1967 war and claimed by the Palestinians for their future state.

But on Wednesday, Reuters said new stabbings occurred outside a crowded mall in central Israel, and in a southern Israeli town spilling into the Israeli heartland.

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