Israeli Security Forces on ‘Maximum Alert’ to Prevent Next Terror Attack: PM
Israeli officials on Sunday warned that the country was in a period of heightened alert against terror attacks, while a second planned attack in two days was reportedly thwarted by security forces.
“We are now entering a period of ‘alert routine’ in which we want the citizens of Israel to go back to routine and the security forces will be on maximum alert,” Prime Minister Naftali Bennett cautioned during a visit to the Israeli Security Agency’s (ISA) Samaria headquarters on Sunday. “This is not an effort of a single operation but of hundreds of continuous operations. Together we will make the effort to break this wave.”
ISA Director Ronen Bar praised the agency’s success in thwarting a “significant” terror attack on Saturday, when three gunmen from the Palestinian Islamic Jihad group were killed in a shootout.
“Like this attack, the terrorists have all kinds of ideas; therefore, we are on highest alert, both the ISA and the Israel Police, in order to identify any fragment of an idea or planning for an attack and to thwart it in time,” Bennett added.
Later on Sunday, police said they arrested a Palestinian near the Nahshonim junction in the West Bank who was planning an attack, Israeli media reported. The incidents follow a spate of recent terror attacks that together killed eleven people, stoking fears of escalating violence during the month of Ramadan, which began Saturday.
“This is a tense time but we have a police force we can trust,” Foreign Minister Yair Lapid stated during a tour around the Damascus Gate in Jerusalem’s Old City, with Police Commissioner Yaakov Shabtai. “We are giving our security forces full backing. We are going to give them all the resources they need.”
Lapid was briefed by Shabtai on security preparations for the coming weeks of Ramadan as well as the Passover holiday later this month, before joining senior police officials on a tour of the Old City to the Damascus Gate, at the point where riots took place on Saturday.
“The Israeli police are currently at peak readiness in terms of preparation and deployment on the ground to secure Ramadan events in the shadow of the terrorist attacks,” commented Shabtai. “Jerusalem is a complex district in which we invest our utmost resources for the safety of residents and visitors from all ethnicities and religions.”
Lapid noted that 8,000 police officers will be deployed to strengthen security, “while we are all with our families at the [Passover] Seder night.”
Also on Sunday, Bennett on Sunday thanked Jordan’s King Abdullah II for his “firm” condemnation of the recent wave of terror attacks in Israel, as the two leaders spoke about concerns of tensions during Ramadan during a phone call.
Bennett said he conveyed his best wishes to the monarch and the Jordanian people on the occasion of Ramadan, as the two discussed the importance ongoing dialogue between Israel and Jordan.
Jordan’s King Abdullah urged Israel to try to maintain calm in the Palestinian territories and avoid measures that “escalate the conflict,” according to a statement by Jordan’s royal court.