Following a drive-by shooting in East Jerusalem that left two Israelis dead, the deputy mayor of Jerusalem vowed to punish those responsible and to stop the alleged “animal behavior” of Palestinians through severe repercussions.
On Sunday, a Palestinian killed an Israeli pedestrian and a police officer in a drive-by shooting near the national police headquarters in Jerusalem before being fatally shot himself by police.
As the deadly wave of violence between Palestinians and Israelis shows no sign of abating, despite a drop in incidents from a high point last autumn, Deputy Mayor of Jerusalem Meir Turgeman called for harsher measures against Palestinians.
“The people in East Jerusalem want to kill us and destroy us. Why do we need to give them a new chance every day?” Turgeman told Radio Jerusalem in an interview.
“Each time we lived in false hope that these people if we would help them, would change their animal behavior, but it turns out that nothing helps,” the politician said.
Turgeman pledged to change tactics in the city government’s approach to the Palestinians in East Jerusalem.
“I am going to give an example. I took all the construction plans related to East Jerusalem off the agenda. I shelved all of the plans. They say carrots and sticks. There are no carrots left, only sticks,” the city official said.
The cycle of violence began last October over the religious site in Jerusalem known to Muslims as the Noble Sanctuary and site of the al-Aqsa mosque, and to Jews as the Temple Mount. In a year-long standoff, 36 Israelis and two visiting Americans have been killed in Palestinian attacks. During the same time, about 219 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli fire.
“We keep giving candy and more candy and more candy to people who constantly want to annihilate us. It’s over. I am taking responsibility, and anyone who doesn’t like it can fire me,” Turgeman said.
Besides shelving the construction plans for Palestinian housing in East Jerusalem, Turgeman vowed to deport families who aid Palestinian attackers to Gaza.
Following the harsh comments, Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat clarified that Turgeman’s remarks were not made in consultation with him and did not reflect municipality policy.
Since the annexation of East Jerusalem in 1967, Israeli authorities have been expanding the city’s Jewish population and reducing its Palestinian population by constructing illegal Jewish settlements.
Following the annexation, the Palestinians in East Jerusalem received the status of permanent residents of Israel, under which they are deprived of a vote as fully fledged citizens.
Some 75.4 percent of Palestinians there live below the poverty line, 83.9 percent of whom are children, according to a 2015 survey by the Association for Civil Rights in Israel.
Over 300,000 residents, most of whom identify as Palestinians, live in 28 Arab neighborhoods and villages that fall within Jerusalem’s municipality. Most promote the Palestinian cause, yet they don’t live under the Palestinian Authority and are subject to Israeli laws.
The Palestinians living in East Jerusalem have long since started complaining that they are subject to discriminatory housing policies, house demolitions, restrictive housing permit regime that led to housing shortages, forcing many to seek shelter outside East Jerusalem.