Israel has responded to the latest terror by angrily pointing fingers at the Palestinian leadership and at Facebook – and by taking some major policy moves.
Facebook has become a “monster” and shares the blame for recent murders due to its failure to report extremist Palestinian posts to Israel, said Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan. He referred to the fact that Muhammad Nasser Tarayrah, killer of 13-year-old Hallel Yaffa Ariel, uploaded several posts glorifying terrorism and declaring his desire to be martyred.
Instead of helping Israel fight terror, Facebook is “sabotaging the work of Israeli police” and “refusing to cooperate”, Erdan claimed.
“Facebook, which has brought a positive revolution to the world, since the rise of Islamic State and the wave of terror, has become a monster. The dialogue, the incitement, the lies of the young Palestinian generation are happening on the Facebook platform.”
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s anger after the attacks was directed towards the Palestinian Authority, for its incitement towards violence through its official media and other means. He raged that praise for the murderers among Palestinians – including in official Palestinian Authority media – “reflects the moral bankruptcy of the Palestinian leadership and leaves little doubt about its true intentions”.
“This culture of hatred poisons minds and destroys lives, and stands as the single greatest obstacle to progress towards peace,” Netanyahu declared.
As the entire Hebron district was cordoned off, restricting the movement of 700,000 Palestinians – and as permits to work in Israel were revoked from the Bani Naim village, which is home to six terrorists – Netanyahu announced new plans to hit the Palestinian Authority financially for the support it gives to terrorism.
Currently, Ramallah makes monthly payments to terrorists who are imprisoned by Israel, or – when they die perpetrating attacks – to their families. Jerusalem claims that this adds to the effect of incitement and incentivises terror, and it is now going to lower the PA’s budget by the amount it spends supporting terrorists. It will do this by refusing to transfer some tax revenues which, for logistical reasons, it collects on the PA’s behalf.
Another prong of Israel’s response to the latest terror is settlement building. A previously shelved plan for 42 new homes in Kiryat Arba, where Ariel was murdered, has been revived, giving Netanyahu kudos on the political right – and provoking criticism on the left. The criticism from the left has been intensified by a decision – unrelated to the latest attacks – to set the wheels in motion for 800 new Jewish homes in eastern Jerusalem.
At the same time, government plans are being advanced for the construction of 600 homes for Palestinians in eastern Jerusalem. Netanyahu defended Israeli building over the Green Line, attacking a new report by the Middle East Quartet which he said “perpetuates the myth” that it is an obstacle to peace.
While welcoming the report’s recognition of Palestinian incitement and the threat of Hamas, Netanyahu decried its stance on building. “When Israel froze settlements, it did not get peace,” he said. “When Israel uprooted every settlement in Gaza, it did not get peace.”