Netanyahu Pledges Tougher Measures in War On Stone Throwers

Israel Palestinian IDF Stone Throwers
A Palestinian hurls a stone toward Israeli border police during clashes at a checkpoint between Shuafat refugee camp and Jerusalem November 6, 2014. Reuters/Ammar Awad

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu pledged to "use all necessary measures" to prevent stone throwing on Tuesday, following the death of an Israeli man in a car crash suspected of being caused after rocks were thrown at his vehicle.

Netanyahu convened an emergency meeting at the end of Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, after Alexander Levloitz died from injuries caused by the crash, which occurred as he and two friends traveled back from a meal celebrating the holiday.

"We will use all necessary measures to fight against those who throw stones, firebombs, pipe bombs and fireworks in order to attack civilians and police," Netanyahu said in a statement released to Newsweek by his office.

"On the eve of the holiday it was again proven that throwing stones can kill. Such actions will be met with very sharp punitive and preventive responses," the statement added. "We will lead systemic changes and will set a new standard of deterrence and prevention."

It was decided in the meeting that "heavy fines" will be handed to minors who throw stones and other projectiles, while their parents will also be fined. The Israeli leader's office also confirmed that open-fire orders, which currently prevent Israeli authorities shooting to kill stone throwers, will be examined for amendment.

The meeting was attended by Israeli cabinet ministers and top security officials, including Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon, Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan, Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked and Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein.

Following the emergency meeting, Erdan, who had earlier initiated a plan to prevent the promotion of judges deemed to be too lenient on Palestinian stone throwers, said that stone throwing is "attempted murder" in comments made to Israel's Army Radio.

In July, Israeli lawmakers voted 69 to 17 in favor of a law that imposes tougher penalties on stone throwers with prison sentences up to 20 years. Stone throwing has been a symbol of the "Palestinian resistance" movement since the first intifada (uprising) in the 1980s. It is a tactic often employed in violent clashes with Israeli authorities and three Israelis have been killed since 2011 in the occupied West Bank after stones were thrown at their vehicles.

The plans to crackdown on stone throwers comes as tensions in the holy city continue to rise over the flashpoint Al-Aqsa Mosque complex, a site sacred to both Muslims, who consider the site the third holiest in Islam, and Jews, who refer to the site as the Temple Mount, the holiest site in Judaism. Clashes between Palestinians and Israeli forces continued for a third consecutive day yesterday.

Netanyahu quelled fears that Israel would attempt to change the rules surrounding the site, where Muslims are permitted to pray but Jews are not allowed. The Israeli PM said that he is "committed to maintaining the status quo."

Netanyahu has ordered a second meeting to confirm the new security arrangements which will be held next week.