'Those who commit terror attacks should not return home alive'

Old City police officer says reactions to terrorists must be immediate, condemns Temple Mount activist for 'upsetting' status quo.

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Policemen on the Temple Mount
Policemen on the Temple Mount
Flash 90

Brigadier General Doron Turgeman, 47, finishing a two-year term as commander of Jerusalem's Kedem Area, spoke about the tensions surrounding the Temple Mount, which began with last month's terror attack.

In the attack, three Muslim terrorists murdered two Druze policemen with weapons smuggled onto the Temple Mount.

In an interview with Yediot Ahronot, Turgeman said, "We are studying the extremist groups who are planning to provoke riots on the Temple Mount. Think about it: Every day, tourists and Jews come to visit the Temple Mount, and we need to make sure they can do so without any incidents. Not long ago, a Temple Mount activist married his fiance on the Temple Mount."

"He took pictures and videos, obviously not where policemen could see him, and then published them on social media. That has a lot of significance for Muslims, and for them it's a violation of the status quo. The responses were very severe and obviously the first ones people got mad at were the police."

Regarding the Cabinet's decision to remove metal detectors and security cameras from the Temple Mount, Turgeman said, "Everything which depended on the police was implemented fully. We need to let higher authorities and decision makers understand that we are capable of doing anything they ask. And I think we've done that."

Four days before Turgeman began serving in his present position, a terrorist slaughtered Rabbi Nehemia Lavi and Aharon Banita-Bennett in erusalem's Old City. Turgeman ran to the scene from the Temple Mount, and was with his subordinates preparing to close off the mosques.

"You arrive at a murder scene and the first thing you see is a confused two-year-old crying in his stroller," he explained. "His father was murdered in front of his eyes, his mother was stabbed and ran to call for help (denied to her by nearby Arabs, ed.). It was an awful scene, one that hasn't left me, even today. When we arrived, the mother was transferred to the hospital and we took the baby with us to the police station. The female police officers took care of him until his family arrived to pick him up. And that's how I started my term as commander of Jerusalem's Kedem Area."

Turgeman is commander of one of the most volatile areas in the Middle East.

"It's a place where you can't sit down fo a second," he said. "From the moment I arrived, there's been a crazy routine of terror attacks. It's like a spinning merry-go-round that you get on and it spins so fast that it's not clear when and how you'll get off it."

"And if you ask what the most significant effect of our work in this area is, the answer is very clear: Anyone who comes to carry out a terror attack will not return home alive. He should take into account that he is going to be killed. And it doesn't matter how old he is, or if it's a he or a she, or why he did it, he will die.

"Statements like these strengthen policemen and give them confidence. Because when they are in the field, and they understand that they are moving targets, we back them up and tell them to fight determinedly and professionally, to neutralize any danger and save their own lives and the lives of the civilians around them."

Regarding the claim that Israel's policemen are trigger-happy, Turgeman explained that, "In the Old City, a policeman has to act fast, because space is cramped and you can't shoot at a distance. The first reaction has to be proportional to the danger level, and it has to happen immediately."

"It's an issue of life and death - for civilians and for our officers."