The current wave of violence in Israel and the Palestinian territories is being fueled by the Islamic Movement in Israel and Hamas, not by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, Shin Bet officials told senior Israeli officials on Sunday.
Contrary to proclamations by senior ministers, including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the Shin Bet officials said that Abbas has actually instructed Palestinian security officers to prevent attacks on Israelis.
Nonetheless, the officials noted during a briefing on the latest developments in the security situation, senior Fatah party and PLO officials are still participating in the incitement against Israelis that has accompanied the mounting Palestinian violence.
During the briefing, Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon, Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan, acting police chief Bentzi Sau and Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat joined Shin Bet officials in updating ministers on steps being taken to quell the growing unrest.
Most of the attacks, Israeli officials noted in the briefing, were by so-called “lone wolf” terrorists who weren’t affiliated with any Palestinian terrorist organizations.
Much of the recent flare-up of violence has centered around Palestinian claims that Israel is seeking to change the decades-old status quo on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, a site holy to both Jews and Muslims. The site, which houses the al-Aqsa Mosque, is administered by the Jerusalem Islamic Waqf. Under rules set by Israel, Jews are allowed to visit but not to pray at the site. Israel has repeatedly denied that it is intending to make changes to the current rules, and says the accusations are incitement to violence.
Netanyahu and other senior ministers have accused Abbas of inciting violence against Israelis. On Sunday, Education Minister Naftali Bennett accused Abbas of leading a campaign of incitement and said he is “not a partner [for peace].”
Last week, Netanyahu charged that the terrorist attacks targeting Israelis “are all the result of wild and mendacious incitement by Hamas, the Palestinian Authority, several countries in the region and — no less, and frequently much more — the Islamic Movement in Israel” over the Temple Mount.
Hamas, for its part, on Sunday warned Israel against “foolishness” after the Israeli Air Force struck the Gaza Strip in response to rocket fire at southern communities.