World

Israeli prime minister to hold 'emergency meeting' on Palestinian attacks

June 7, 2015: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attends the weekly cabinet meeting in his Jerusalem office.

June 7, 2015: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attends the weekly cabinet meeting in his Jerusalem office.  (AP/Sebastian Scheiner)

Israel's prime minister will convene an "emergency meeting" over recent Palestinian attacks, an official at his office said Monday, hours after a man died in a crash after rocks were thrown at his car and violence broke out at Jerusalem's most sensitive holy site for a second day in a row.

Benjamin Netanyahu will hold the consultations with top ministers Tuesday night after the Jewish new year holiday of Rosh Hashanah ends. "The prime minister views with great severity the throwing of rocks and fire bombs against Israeli citizens and intends to fight the phenomena by all means, including increasing punishment and enforcement," the official said anonymously according to protocol.

The announcement came several hours after a Jewish man died from wounds sustained when rocks were thrown at his car. Spokeswoman Luba Samri said the man was injured early Monday as his vehicle was attacked while returning from a meal marking the Jewish new year. She said the identity of the attackers is unknown but they are likely from a nearby Arab neighborhood.

Police said they are investigating all causes for the crash but would not elaborate. Israeli media reported the driver lost control of the wheel following a heart attack that might have been triggered by the rocks thrown at his car.

There has been a spike in Palestinian violence against Israeli civilians and soldiers over the past year that resulted in fatalities and casualties.

Palestinians have also been assaulted; in the deadliest incident a toddler was killed in an arson attack on a home in the West Bank in July. His parents later died of their wounds. That attack was widely condemned across the board in Israel and the government vowed to crackdown on Israeli extremists.

Earlier Monday, police and Palestinian stone throwers clashed for a second day in a row at Jerusalem's most sensitive holy site.

The compound is holy to Jews as the Temple Mount, site of the two biblical Jewish temples. Muslims revere it as the Noble Sanctuary where they believe the Prophet Muhammad ascended to heaven. The fate of the site is a core issue at the heart of the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians.

Spokeswoman Luba Samri said protesters threw rocks at officers who entered the area to ensure security. She said several masked Palestinians suspected of stone throwing were arrested. Police also arrested protesters who attacked a Jewish man, she said.

The holy site is a frequent flashpoint of violence. On Sunday, police clashed with Palestinians who barricaded themselves inside the Al-Aqsa Mosque and threw rocks and firecrackers. A Jewish man wearing a traditional prayer shawl was attacked as he passed through a nearby alleyway in the old city.

Since Israel captured east Jerusalem from Jordan in 1967, Jewish worshippers have been allowed to visit - but not pray - at the site.

The area is administered by Muslim authorities and is under Jordanian custody. Muslim authorities view the presence of Jewish worshippers and Israeli police as a provocation and accuse Jewish extremists of plotting to take over the site.

Israel has promised to ensure the status quo at the site.