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Netanyahu: 'Changing Policy' for Rock, Firebomb Attacks


JERUSALEM, Israel -- Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the government is changing its policy against rock and firebomb attacks.

Netanyahu released a statement Wednesday after touring the Jerusalem neighborhood where an Israeli was killed following a rock attack as he returned home from a Rosh Hashanah holiday celebration Sunday evening.

Alexander Levlovich, 64, died of injuries sustained when he lost control of his car after terrorists smashed the windshield with rocks. Two passengers were also injured in the crash, one moderately and one lightly.

Police believe Levlovich suffered a heart attack, causing him to hit a guard rail and electricity pole before landing in a ditch by the side of the road.

Standing at the place where he died, Netanyahu said, "Here, in the heart of Jerusalem, at a traffic island on a main road, a thug and criminal stands here, on a traffic island, takes a stone and throws again and again at the windshields of cars of Jerusalem residents until he manages to cause death. It did not kill, it murdered. This stone is one too many. We are declaring war on those who throw stones and bottles, and rioters."

Netanyahu, accompanied by Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan, Transportation and Road Safety Minister Yisrael Katz and Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat, went next to a Border Police base for briefings by senior police officers and then to an IDF position on Highway 443, where several army commanders briefed them on the recent upsurge of terror attacks on the highway.

The government is "changing policy," Netanyahu said, calling the present situation "unacceptable."

"We are also going to adopt changes in the rules of engagement and for minimum sentences on  those who throw stones and firebombs. In addition, we will massively increase fines for minors and their families to create deterrence there as well," he said.

The prime minister also addressed rioting on the Temple Mount, saying Israel is "in favor of strictly maintaining the status quo on the Temple Mount."

"The status quo is upset constantly by agitators and rioters who barricade themselves on the Temple Mount and harass worshippers, or, more precisely, the Jewish visitors," he said. "This is also unacceptable to us. We are dealing with this, in cooperation and dialogue with Jordan -- and not just with them."

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