IDF beefs up West Bank presence following slaying of 2 Jews, riots


IDF beefs up West Bank presence following slaying of 2 Jews, riots

(JTA) — Israel Defense Forces beefed up their presence in the West Bank following the slaying of two Jews and three Palestinians there in recent weeks.

Three additional IDF battalions were deployed in the area starting Feb. 7 amid concerns that the spate of deadly attacks in the area signals a new wave of terrorism, the Israel Hayom daily reported.

Itamar Ben-Gal of the Har Bracha settlement was gunned down of Feb. 5. Rabbi Raziel Shevach of the Havat Gilad settlement was killed on Jan. 9.

U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman criticized Haaretz Friday after the left-wing daily published an op-ed calling Har Bracha, whose name in Hebrew means “mountain of blessing,” “mountain of curses.”

“What has become of .@Haaretz ? Four young children are sitting shiva for their murdered father and this publication calls their community a ‘mountain of curses.’ Have they no decency?” Friedman wrote on Twitter. The op-ed by Gideon Levy, a columnist who supports a blanket boycott of Israel and that country’s reconstitution as a bi-national state for Jews and Palestinians, criticized Friedman for his contribution of an ambulance for Har Bracha.

The redeployment of troops in the West Bank was accompanied by rioting, in which a 16-year-old Palestinian was critically injured from gunshots in the town of Kafr Aqab, north of Jerusalem, according to official Palestinian Authority-owned Wafa news agency.

Another three Palestinians were killed in three separate incidents this week, the Ma’an news agency reported, and dozens of others were injured in clashes with IDF troops.

Notwithstanding, the number of terrorist attacks against Israelis dropped sharply from 249 incidents recorded in December to 118 attacks recorded last month, the Israel Security Agency wrote in its monthly report earlier this week.

In addition to the slaying of Rabbi Raziel Shevach, three Israelis, all of them security personnel, were wounded in attacks last month.

The tally for December was a two-year record and constituted the sharpest monthly rise in attacks since 2014 at least — a 296-percent rise over the 84 recorded in November.

The leap in the number of attacks corresponded with an uptick in terrorist activity following President Donald Trump’s Dec. 6 declaration that the United States recognizes Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.