Netanyahu calls for harsher penalties for rock throwers

Muslims seen at the Al-Aqsa Mosque, in Jerusalem's Old City, on their way to pray on the second day of the holy Muslim month of Ramadan, June 30, 2014. (Sliman Khader/Flash90)

Muslims at the Al-Aqsa mosque on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem’s Old City on their way to pray during the holy month of Ramadan, June 30, 2014. (Sliman Khader/Flash90)

JERUSALEM (JTA) — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called for harsher minimum sentences for rock throwers.

Speaking Sunday at the weekly Cabinet meeting, Netanyahu also asserted that Israel is committed to maintaining the status quo on the Temple Mount, but added that bringing explosives and pipe bombs to the holy site “is changing the status quo.”

Police in Jerusalem over the weekend began using the new open-fire orders against rock throwers, Netanyahu said, and additional forces have been added in order to tamp down recent rioting in the city.

“Stones and firebombs are deadly weapons; they kill and have killed,” Netanyahu said. He also said that Israeli forces will implement a “simple principle” in dealing with rioters: “Whoever tries to attack us, we will hurt him.”

Netanyahu called for the advance of legislation to impose fines on the parents of minors who throw rocks and firebombs, as well as legislation to set minimum punishments for those who throw rocks, firebombs and fireworks.

On the status quo, he said, “Elements that incite with baseless, wild provocations – to the effect that Israel is trying to prevent Muslim prayer on the Temple Mount or wants to destroy the mosques, or other wild things that are being said – it is they who are inciting. This incitement comes from the Muslim Brotherhood, the Islamic Movement in Israel, Hamas and – to our chagrin – with the active participation of the Palestinian Authority,” he said.

The status quo refers to the Temple Mount staying under the control of the Muslim Waqf, as it has been since 1967, with only Muslims permitted to pray at the site, though Jews and Christians may visit. The Waqf is under the jurisdiction of Jordan.

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