Israeli Minister: Israelis in Gush Etzion, Hebron Area Feel Like They’re Living in War Zone
Israeli residents of Gush Etzion and the Hebron area in the West Bank feel like they are living in a war zone, Israeli Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked told Army Radio on Sunday.
“There are terrorist attacks almost every day — each day one terrorist attack or even more,” she said, making the remarks just moments after she said she learned that a 21-year-old Israeli woman became the latest Israeli casualty in Gush Etzion, a constellation of Israeli settlements between Jerusalem and Hebron in the West Bank.
The victim was Hadar Buchris of Safed in Israel, and she was stabbed to death standing at a common hitchhiking post in Gush Etzion — as hitchhiking remains a popular way of traveling through the West Bank.
“I hope the situation will improve, but it was certainly a very sad and difficult incident,” said the justice minister and member of the Jewish Home Party, whose support base is strongly represented among the Israeli settlement population.
“We believe that sooner or later we’re going to have to enter some of these areas, into certain villages, and remove the weapons from them. We have to begin consolidating and preparing for a wide-scale operation in this area,” she said.
Shaked said the operation would ultimately have to extend beyond areas already under Israeli military control into territories under full Palestinian security and civil control, or territories known as Area A.
Shaked agreed that the operation would be something along the lines of Operation Defensive Shield during the Second Intifada, when the IDF entered Palestinian cities like Jenin and Nablus and imposed strict curfews and restrictions on movement, in response to a wave of suicide bombings that killed dozens of Israelis.
Eighteen Israelis and an American Jewish tourist have been killed in Palestinian stabbings, shootings and car-ramming attacks since the Jewish High Holidays in September, while some 83 Palestinians have been killed either carrying out attacks or in confrontations with Israeli security officers in the West Bank and near Jerusalem, Reuters reported.
According to AFP, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is focusing security efforts on Hebron, where he said most of the recent attacks against Israel were originating. The IDF announced it had arrested eight Palestinians in the Hebron area overnight on Saturday.