04 February '16..
In 1948, Jewish fighters sacrificed their lives to open the road to Jerusalem. Haim Gouri wrote the song "Bab el-Wad" about these heroes (referring to the spot where the road to Jerusalem enters the mountains).
Seven decades later, members of the Israel Police and Border Police are sacrificing their lives to defend the "Bab el-Wad" of our time: the road to the Western Wall in Jerusalem's Old City. In recent months, Palestinian terrorists have repeatedly tried to kill Jews near Damascus Gate, the starting point of Hagai Street. This is no coincidence. Hagai Street is one of the two main access routes to the Western Wall.
The Temple Mount and Western Wall are the core of the Jewish people's bond to Jerusalem and the Land of Israel, a bond the Palestinians are seeking to sever.
In recent years, official Palestinian spokespeople have been disseminating with renewed vigor the lie first spouted by Jerusalem Grand Mufti Haj Amin al-Husseini nine decades ago -- that the Western Wall is Palestinian and the Jews have no connection to it.
Four months ago, Nehemia Lavi and Aharon Bennett were murdered on Hagai Street by a Palestinian terrorist, and since then there have been many further attacks there. Due to the security situation, the number of Jews visiting the Western Wall has decreased.
Our fight for the Western Wall must encompass more than just security measures. The proper Zionist response to terrorism is settlement. Dozens of Jewish families live on Hagai Street. The time has come to bolster the Jewish presence there. This is the essence of Zionism.
Increasing the number of Jews living on Hagai Street will also make clear to the Palestinians that there is a price to pay for terrorism. In the past, we were good at making this price clear to the Palestinians. But in recent years, we have not.
Thousands of Jews used to live on Hagai Street before the Arab riots of 1929. We now have an opportunity to return there and send a message to the Palestinians that terrorism will only hurt, not benefit, them. Terrorists will be killed and Palestinians will lose properties to which Jews have been prevented from returning.
The fact that the perpetrators of Wednesday's attack near Damascus Gate were armed with guns must be taken seriously. Thousands of firearms are hidden in the neighborhoods of east Jerusalem and refugee camps in the West Bank. Israel has thus far refrained from launching an wide-ranging operation to confiscate all these weapons. Pinpoint raids and arrests will not eliminate the threat. The last time Israel conducted such an operation was Operation Brother's Keeper in the Hebron area in the summer of 2014 (to search for the three kidnapped young Israelis whose murdered bodies were found three weeks later). The high number of weapons found during that operation revealed the scope of the threat. We must decide soon whether to embark on a broader campaign.
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