Netanyahu with IDF officers (file)
Netanyahu with IDF officers (file)Amos Ben-Gershom

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu on Tuesday conducted a tour of Samaria, during which he addressed the growing criticism of the government's lapse in response to the growing wave of terrorist attacks.

"We will break this terror wave, as we broke previous terror waves," said Netanyahu.

"There is no question here regarding the backing that is being given to the military," he said, and chastised settlement enterprise leaders who have been blaming his policies for failing to prevent terror.

Commenting on the murder of Rabbi Eitam and Naama Henkin in front of the eyes of their four children last Thursday outside Itamar, Netanyahu said, "I asked to come here today along with the Defense Minister and the IDF Chief of Staff to see for myself the scene of the attack, the operational deployment, the action by the forces on the ground, and to evaluate several methods we can use to eradicate this wave of terrorism."

"First, I would like to commend the IDF, the ISA and the police for the quick and excellent work in solving the heinous murder of the Henkins and, of course, their actions in apprehending the culprits. This is important. This is something we want to be able to prevent and, when necessary, to catch the perpetrators just as quickly and effectively.

"The focus of this visit is active defense along the roads," he explained. "A significant portion of the attacks are taking place along main roads and we have agreed here on a very serious plan in which we will deploy ground and aerial cameras on all roads in Judea and Samaria, with command and control centers, communication centers and fast response times. This change can significantly enhance our ability to thwart such attacks and of course to locate the perpetrators. This is a very, very important element in restoring security."

Netanyahu could not resist slamming the local Jewish leaders who have blamed him of not giving sufficient backing to IDF officers and soldiers fighting the terror wave, and not giving them a fee enough hand to do so.

"However," he said, "I would like to clarify that the IDF, along with the other security arms, do a lot of other things, and will continue to do so even more. There is no question of backing, there is no question of support – it is given generously and everyone knows it, everyone except those who say the opposite, and I think that even they know it. Local leaders must show the necessary responsibility, including those in the various communities, perhaps foremost in the communities, to act responsibly, to be precise. We are in an ongoing struggle. Such a struggle does not require harsh criticism, it requires a lot of strength, a resolute attitude, much composure and thoroughness – this is what we are doing."

Sharp action against incitement

"We are operating in Jerusalem as well – Jerusalem is, of course, only the outer layer of events and the Temple Mount is the heart of hearts – by various means, and we are maintaining the status quo. But the status quo does not allow bringing pipebombs into the Al-Aqsa Mosque. The status quo certainly must not allow throwing firebombs and rocks. We have directed the police and other security forces to deal aggressively with these phenomena and I also want to deal with those shopkeepers, those Palestinians who were there on the street, on which a Jewish woman ran stabbed and bleeding, and they spat at her and kicked her. I asked that these people be investigated, prosecuted and their stores closed according to law. We cannot accept a repetition of these events anywhere in the world, certainly not in Israel's capital.

"We also demand very sharp action against incitement, including its sources, Hamas, the Palestinian Authority – but first and foremost the source of incitement in recent years is the Islamic Movement in the State of Israel," the prime minister vowed. "We will act against it as well. With all these measures, I think we will achieve important results and I think we can break this wave, as we broke previous waves."

Netanyahu will meet Tuesday evening with heads of Judea and Samaria local government councils, in the wake of the harsh criticism they have been sounding against him of late.

Yesha vs Bibi

Meanwhile, the Yesha Council umbrella group of Judea and Samaria local government leaders fired back at Netanyahu Tuesday.

"In this complicated time, when the settlement enterprise faces terror attacks and is dealing courageously with sights that are very hard to look at, and additional bereaved families, we expect the prime minister and defense minister not to criticize and impugn the settlement enterprise," the Yesha Council said in a statement.

The local government leaders clarified: "Our struggle is one of responsibility and that is how it is being run. The prime minister and defense minister need to stop making gestures that ease conditions for the Palestinians, which make the harsh attacks possible, and renew construction in place of the freeze, which projects national weakness and invites terror in Jerusalem and Judea and Samaria."

Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon (Likud) for his part said that the government is doing all it can to defeat Arab terror.

"We are in the middle of a terror wave and the ongoing incitement continues to whip up the flames of this terror wave, and that is why we are taking steps to put down this wave. In most cases, we are able to stop the terrorists before they carry out their designs. The Henkin couple's murder was solved in a short time. In this situation, there is a meaningful reinforcement of forces in a way that will cool down the atmosphere," he promised.