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Israel moves to ‘strengthen’ Jewish settlements after shootings | Benjamin Netanyahu

Israeli officers have sealed off the family home of a Palestinian militant who killed seven near a synagogue on the outskirts of the city in Jerusalem, police said after Benjamin Netanyahu promised a “quick response.”

Netanyahu announced a series of punitive measures against the Palestinians in response to a pair of shootings in Jerusalem that left seven Israelis dead and five seriously injured.

After convening his security cabinet late Saturday night, Netanyahu said the government would apply sanctions against the families of the attackers and that he would introduce steps to “strengthen the settlements” this week.

The decision was made on the eve of the visit of US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken. The Biden administration opposes the construction of Israeli settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, territories claimed by the Palestinians for the future state.

Netanyahu’s security cabinet approved the move after two shootings, including an attack near a synagogue in East Jerusalem on Friday night that killed seven people.

His office said the security cabinet had agreed to seal the attacker’s house in preparation for its demolition.

He also plans to remove social security and medical benefits for the families of the attackers, make it easier for Israelis to obtain weapons, and step up efforts to collect illegal weapons.

Before the security cabinet meeting, Netanyahu promised to take decisive and timely action after the two attacks. “Our response will be strong, fast and accurate,” he said. “We do not seek escalation, but we are ready for any scenario.”

The weekend shooting followed a deadly Israeli raid on the West Bank on Thursday that killed nine Palestinians, most of them militants. In response, Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip bombarded Israel with rocket fire, triggering a series of Israeli airstrikes in response. A total of 32 Palestinians have been killed in combat this month.

It remains unclear whether the Israeli moves will be effective. The assailants involved in the weekend shootout, including a 13-year-old boy, appear to have acted alone and were not part of organized militant groups.

In addition, Netanyahu could come under pressure from members of his government, a group of religious and ultra-nationalist politicians, to take even tougher measures. Such moves could lead to more violence and possibly draw the Hamas militant group into Gaza.

A shooting on Friday outside a synagogue in East Jerusalem left seven Israelis dead and three injured before the gunman was killed by police. It was the deadliest attack on Israelis in 15 years.

Authorities released the names of four victims. Among them were 14-year-old Asher Nathan; Eli Mizrahi, 48, and his wife Natalie, 45; and Rafael Ben Eliyahu, 56. The funeral of some of the victims was scheduled for Saturday evening.

On Saturday, a 13-year-old Palestinian boy opened fire elsewhere in East Jerusalem, wounding an Israeli and his son, aged 47 and 23, according to medics. Both are fully conscious and are in the hospital in a moderate condition, doctors added.

Police said that when police arrived at the scene, two bystanders with licensed weapons shot and killed the 13-year-old assailant. The police confiscated his gun and took the injured teenager to the hospital.

Blinken is expected to arrive in Israel on Monday. The Biden administration condemned Friday night’s shooting and urged calm on all sides, but provided few details on how it intends to advance those goals.

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