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Israeli officials threaten harsh response in wake of deadly Tel Aviv attack

June 9, 2016 5:17 P.M. (Updated: June 16, 2016 1:03 P.M.)
Israeli forces inspect the scene of a deadly shooting attack in Tel Aviv on June 8, 2016.
BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- The Israeli diplomatic-security cabinet convened on Thursday to discuss a plan of action regarding the shooting attack at Tel Aviv's Sarona Market a day earlier which left four Israelis dead, Haaretz reported.

Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman visited the site of the attack, where he expressed his condolences for the victims and their families, adding that "I don’t plan on detailing the steps we'll be taking, but I certainly have no intentions of settling for lip service."

Deputy Defense Minister Eli Ben Dahan added on Thursday morning that life in the village of Yatta, south of Hebron in the occupied West Bank, where the suspected Palestinian attackers hail from, "won't carry on as usual."

"Unfortunately, every year the month of Ramadan is a month with terror. Security forces are beefed up during this month every year," Ben Dahan added.

The Israeli Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT), which implements Israeli policies in the occupied Palestinian territory, issued an order freezing more than 83,000 permits allowing Palestinians to enter Israel and occupied East Jerusalem, the organization said on Thursday.

Intelligence and Atomic Energy Minister Yisrael Katz called the attack "a heinous crime that requires an unusual, difficult and painful Israeli response."

He added that the suspected attackers’ hometown of Yatta must undergo "a preventative 'root canal' treatment that will go down in history," adding that it must be cordoned off for "a long time."

Following the attack, Israeli forces carried out raids in Yatta and sealed the town entrances.

Katz also called to expedite legislation in the Knesset aimed at expelling “terrorists'” families, referring to popular talking points amongst right-wing Israeli politicians advocating for collective punishment for relatives of Palestinians involved in attacks against Israelis.

In response to the suggestions for an expulsion policy, to which Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reportedly expressed his support, Israeli Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit ruled that deporting the families of those who carry out attacks against Israeli citizens was against Israeli and international law.

A number of policies implemented by Israel as “deterrent measures,” such as punitive home demolitions, sealing entrance off hometowns of attackers, and revoking work permits, are not only illegal under international law, but have also labeled by rights group as constituting “collective punishment.”

According to Haaretz, the mayor of Yatta said that the two Palestinian suspects, identified as Muhammad Ahmad Moussa Makhamera and Khalid Muhammad Moussa Makhamreh, were not known to be members of “terror groups.”

"We're very surprised, and the only explanation for what happened is that the two were influenced by all that has happened recently," said Mayor Moussa Muhamara, referring to the wave of violence that began in October. "It must be mentioned that the Hebron area, including Yatta, has paid a heavy price in terms of those killed and of incidents, and this apparently influenced them."

Meanwhile, Tel Aviv Mayor Ron Huldai stated that the deadly shooting was the consequence of the harsh treatment faced by Palestinian civilians at the hands of the Israeli government amidst the recent waves of violence, and the ongoing 49-year occupation of the Palestinian territory.

“We might be the only country in the world where another nation is under occupation without civil rights,” Huldai stated on Israeli army radio. “You can’t hold people in a situation of occupation and hope they’ll reach the conclusion everything is alright.”

Upon request by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas the military liaison of Hebron announced a state of alert to ensure the proper preparations to help Palestinian citizens in the case of any assaults or violations by Israeli settlers or armed forces, or if they were held at checkpoints and prevented from reaching hospitals or schools.

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