Israel to Deploy 18,000 Officers to Secure Election Day Amid Terrorism Threat
More than 18,000 police officers and border guards will be deployed to secure Israelis as they cast their ballots for a new government on Tuesday, amid concerns that recent security tensions in the West Bank will spill over into an attack on election day.
Terrorist organizations and lone perpetrators are very motivated to carry out such an attack, a senior official with Israel Police told Channel 12 on Monday evening.
Some officers will be assigned to maintain the peace at polling locations and head off attempts to falsify votes, but the central task will be to prevent and thwart terrorist attacks.
The heightened security presence will be accompanied by a general closure on the West Bank and on crossings between Israel and the Gaza Strip on election day, which was approved by the government on Sunday. The previous evening, a 50-year-old Israeli man, Ronen Hanania, was murdered by a Palestinian gunman near Kiryat Arba in the West Bank. Hanania’s son Daniel was also wounded in the shooting, as were a medic and security guard who rushed to scene.
The assailent was identified by Israeli media as Muhammed Jabari, a member of the US-designated terrorist group Hamas. Fireworks were seen after the attack in nearby Hebron, where sweets were distributed to passing vehicles in celebration, Yediot Achronot reported.
Also on Sunday, a driver rammed into soldiers in the Jordan Valley area and injured five before being shot. The military announced that it would ramp up its manpower in the Hebron area following the incident.
Tensions have intensified after an increase in attacks by Palestinian and Arab Israeli perpetrators led to dozens of Israeli casualties beginning last spring. Last week, a 55-year-old Israeli man was stabbed in the northeastern West Bank, days after a Haredi Israeli man in his 20s was stabbed in the back and seriously wounded in the Givat HaMivtar neighborhood in eastern Jerusalem.
The Israeli military has sought to stem the violence with increasing raids in the West Bank to confiscate illegal weapons and detain suspects, which resulted in a concurrent increase in deadly clashes with Palestinian militants.