Checkpoints set up at exits of Palestinian neighbourhoods in East Jerusalem after government approves tough measures.
14 Oct 2015 09:58 GMT
The Israeli government has ordered the deployment of hundreds of soldiers to cities across the country to help police combat a rise in stabbing attacks.
The army deployed six companies on Wednesday to the country’s urban areas, two weeks since the latest tensions between Palestinians and Israelis turned violent.
The move is the first implementation of measures decided upon by Israel’s security cabinet to combat a series of Palestinian shooting and stabbing attacks against Israeli civilians and soldiers.
The cabinet met late into the night and released details of the new measures early Wednesday morning.
Steps approved include allowing police to seal off Palestinian neighbourhoods in East Jerusalem.
“The security cabinet decided several measures to combat terrorism, notably authorising police to seal off or impose a curfew on parts of Jerusalem in case of friction or incitement to violence,” the security cabinet said in a statement.
Speaking on the deployment of soldiers, Al Jazeera’s Mike Hanna, reporting from West Jerusalem, said the country had never formally moved to deploy troops in Israel proper.
“This is unprecedented in many ways, to actually deploy formally Israeli soldiers on the streets alongside police officers,” he said.
“This is a conscript society, people are used to seeing people in uniform with guns walking through the streets. However the formal nature of this, the fact the government has formally asked the Israeli army to provide companies is going to strike the Israeli psyche very much.”
The deployment came as Israeli police announced they had started setting up checkpoints in areas of East Jerusalem.
A police spokeswoman said they were being set up at “the exits of Palestinian villages and neighbourhoods in East Jerusalem.”
Most stabbing attacks against Israelis have been by people who came from within Jerusalem or its surrounding villages.
Al Jazeera spoke to two residents of Jerusalem’s Old City who said the area had turned into a war zone.
“This racist government has turned Jerusalem into a war zone…we are being chased out of our homes, our homes, our streets, ” said Aziz Abbasi.
“The streets and alleyways of Jerusalem’s old town are empty of Arabs and settlers. In every corner, alleyway in Jerusalem, there are armed men, border police, army, intelligence officers”
Another resident, Islam Younes, said he had been attacked by Israeli soldiers and that the situation in the city was “very tense” with security measures on every entrance leading to the old town.
“I only came to pray at the al-Aqsa Mosque but everybody is on edge, expecting violations and attacks to take place at any time,” Younes said.
Violence between Palestinians and Israelis has surged since the start of the month sparked in part by Palestinian worries about increased visits by hardline Jewish groups to the al-Aqsa Mosque compound.
Palestinians fear the visits mark the first stage of an eventual plan to partition the compound into Muslim and Jewish sections, but Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has pledged to maintain the current status quo.
At least 30 Palestinians have been killed in the violence including attackers, but most were demonstrators or stone throwers shot dead by Israeli soldiers during protests. Seven Israelis have also been killed.