Israel suspends entry permits for Palestinian labourers

After six weeks of almost daily violence, back-to-back attacks result in five deaths, the most fatalities on a single day

A Palestinian protester uses a sling shot to hurl stones at Israeli troops during clashes obn Friday  in the West Bank city of Ramallah.  Photograph: Majdi Mohammed/AP

A Palestinian protester uses a sling shot to hurl stones at Israeli troops during clashes obn Friday in the West Bank city of Ramallah. Photograph: Majdi Mohammed/AP

 

Israel has suspended entry permits for Palestinian labourers and will limit the movement of Palestinians in an area of the West Bank south of Jerusalem following two attacks on Thursday that left five people dead.

After six weeks of almost daily violence, Thursday’s back-to-back attacks resulted in the most fatalities on a single day, with the Israeli security forces seemingly unable to stop the random assaults, usually perpetrated by single attackers, often very young, without clear links to militant groups.

After a Palestinian man armed with a knife killed two Israeli worshippers at a makeshift synagogue in a Tel Aviv office complex, a Palestinian opened fire from his car at vehicles stuck in a West Bank traffic jam in the Gush Etzion settlement bloc between Jerusalem and Hebron, killing an Israeli ,an American Jewish tourist and a local Palestinian. The wave of violence has claimed the lives of 15 Israelis and dozens of Palestinians.

Prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu was quick to draw a comparison between the violence in Israel and Paris. “Radical Islam seeks to destroy us,” he said. “It is the same radical Islam that struck Paris and threatens all of Europe. Anyone who condemned the Paris attacks should also condemn the attacks in Israel. It is the same terrorism. Anyone who fails to do so is hypocritical and blind.”

The attacker in Tel Aviv was a West Bank Palestinian father of five who had a valid work permit and was employed in a restaurant close to the site of the attack.

After an emergency security cabinet meeting, Israel suspended work permits previously granted to 1,200 West Bank Palestinians. It also decided to limit the movement of Palestinians at the main Gush Etzion junction, the site of Thursday’s second attack. The Gush Etzion settlers council also called on residents who own firearms to voluntarily accompany children on schoolbuses as potential first responders in case of a security incident.

A large number of the attacks over the last month and a half have centred on the southern West Bank city of Hebron or the surrounding area, including Gush Etzion, or have been carried out by Palestinians from the area.

Right-wing ministers said the time had come for a major security sweep in Hebron. Science minister Ofir Akunis, from Mr Netanyahu’s ruling Likud, called on Israel to to seal off the Arabs of Hebron and the surrounding villages. “No one should be allowed to enter or leave.”

Education minister Naftali Bennett, head of the far-right Jewish Home, called for a harsh response. “We need to strike harder at terrorism. We need to clean up the mess in Hebron and the surrounding area.”