Israel OKs harsher punishments against rock throwers

Marcy Oster

JERUSALEM (JTA) — Police will have more leeway to open fire under harsher measures against rock throwers approved by Israel’s Security Cabinet.

The new measures, which were approved at a meeting of the Security Cabinet on Thursday in Jerusalem, also include those who throw firebombs and shoot fireworks at police and civilians, the Prime Minister’s Office said in a statement.

Last week, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called for the more stringent measures following an uptick in violence on the Temple Mount and throughout Jerusalem.

Under the new measures, open fire orders have been “sharpened,” according to the statement. Police “will be permitted to open fire – and they will know that they have the right to open fire – when they face danger to any lives,” according to the statement, quoting Netanyahu.

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They also impose minimum sentences of four years’ imprisonment for adults who throw firebombs and rocks. The Security Cabinet also agreed to impose increased fines, and minimum fines on minors and their parents, as well as taking away national support payments.

“These decisions will apply to all citizens and residents of Israel,” the statement stressed.

“We intend to change the norm that has become established here, that the state of Israel allows these deadly and murderous objects to be thrown without response and without being thwarted. This will change,” Netanyahu said in the statement.

Netanyahu also addressed the violence on the Temple Mount.

“We are maintaining the status quo. We are not violating it,” he said. “All remarks regarding the intention to harm the Islamic holy places are utter nonsense. It is not we who are changing the status quo; it is those who bring pipe bombs and explosives into the mosques who are changing the status quo.”

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