PM Netanyahu announces a series of controversial measures, including demolishing homes of Palestinian suspects, cancelling social security and health benefits for their families and making it easier for Israelis to obtain weapons.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has announced a series of punitive steps against the Palestinians after a pair of shootings in occupied West Bank that left seven Israelis dead and wounded five others.
The controversial measures, announced late on Saturday, include new moves to strengthen illegal Jewish settlements, his office said.
The decision came ahead of a visit by US Secretary of State Antony Blinken. The Biden administration opposes Israeli settlement construction in the West Bank and occupied East Jerusalem, territories that are part of Palestine.
Netanyahu's Security Cabinet also agreed to seal off the suspected attacker's home in preparation ahead of its demolition.
It also plans to cancel social security and health benefits for the families of suspected attackers, make it easier for Israelis to obtain weapons and step up efforts to collect illegal weapons.
Palestine's President Mahmoud Abbas on Saturday blamed Israel for the escalation in violence.
READ MORE: Israel arrests dozens in Jerusalem, boosts forces in occupied West Bank
הקבינט המדיני ביטחוני קיבל הערב שורת החלטות על צעדים למאבק בטרור ולגביית מחיר מהמחבלים ותומכיהם:— Benjamin Netanyahu - בנימין נתניהו (@netanyahu) January 28, 2023
1. בית המחבל שביצע את פיגוע הטרור בירושלים ייאטם מיידית לקראת מימוש הריסתו.
2. שלילת זכויות בביטוח הלאומי והטבות נוספות למשפחות מחבלים תומכות טרור >> pic.twitter.com/aBC00buXQP
Judicial overhaul and raids
Saturday's events — on the eve of Blinken's arrival in the region — raised the possibility of even greater conflagration in one of the bloodiest months in Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories in several years.
Overhauling the justice system in the country, including the attorney general's office, has been at the top of the agenda of the new far-right government, which says unelected judges and jurists have overwhelming powers.
The divisive issue helped fuel weekly protests by Israelis who say the sweeping proposed changes would weaken the Supreme Court and undermine democracy.
Tens of thousands of protesters gathered in the central city of Tel Aviv on Saturday evening for a new protest, waving Israeli flags.
The marchers also held a moment of silence in memory of shooting victims.
The earlier Friday attack came a day after Israeli military killed nine Palestinians in the flashpoint Jenin refugee camp in the West Bank.
At least 30 Palestinians have been killed in the West Bank since the start of the month.
Palestine sees the raids as further entrenchment of Israel's open-ended, 55-year occupation of its lands.
Israel captured the West Bank in the 1967 Arab-Israeli War, along with the Gaza — blockaded since 2005 — and East Jerusalem.
Israel has since illegally settled 500,000 people in about 130 unlawful settlements across the West Bank, which the Palestine and much of the international community view as an obstacle to peace.
READ MORE: Tens of thousands of Israelis protest against Netanyahu's judicial overhaul