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ISRAEL - DESPERATE SITUATION REQUIRES DESPERATE REMEDIES

It's all-out war against Palestinian terrorism after the worst Palestinian terror attack in the current wave of violence.

Israeli police barrier in Jerusalem (photo credit: wikimedia commons)

 This was the message from Israeli Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu, after two Palestinian terrorists, armed with a handgun and meat cleaver, ran into a Jerusalem synagogue and hacked and shot four Jewish worshippers to death and wounded eight other Israelis. This is what happened:

 At approximately 7:AM, Jewish worshippers were in the middle of the early morning prayer of Shaharit at the Tehilat Yaakov synagogue in the religious neighborhood of Har Nof, when two young Palestinians drove up in their car, parked it nearby, and then ran unhindered into the synagogue. (Most public buildings in Israel have armed guards at the entrance but synagogues do not - no one thought that Palestinians would stoop to executing terror attacks on holy sites.) They immediately began shooting and hacking at the unsuspecting worshippers, who were already wrapped in their prayer shawls. Eyewitnesses later described how the killers moved from one victim to another, one terrorist was firing all the time, and the other was hacking victims with his big meat cleaver. All the while they were shouting 'Allah Akbar!' 

It harkened back to bloody pogroms in another place and in another era. In fact, it also recalled the bloodthirsty rampages of IS Islamists in Iraq and Syria.

 In the pandemonium, some of the worshippers managed to make it outside. Two traffic policemen were the first to respond. Realizing that worshippers were being slaughtered inside they could not wait for backup and raced in immediately. The armed terrorist was waiting and shot both policemen - one later died in the hospital. A third off-duty policeman was close behind and shot dead the two terrorists. The aftermath inside was appalling. Apparently some of the dead had been shot first and then hacked with the meat cleaver - prayer shawls were soaked in blood that covered the floors and bullet holes riddled glass windows. It harkened back to bloody pogroms in another place and in another era. In fact, it also recalled the bloodthirsty rampages of IS Islamists in Iraq and Syria. Now it was being perpetrated in the heart of western Jerusalem.

 The two terrorists were cousins from a family that lives in the eastern Jerusalem neighborhood of Jabal Mukaber, a terrorist hotspot. Their family and neighborhood are celebrating them as shahids - Muslim martyrs. In Gaza, the news brought out to the streets Palestinian men, women and children, who danced for joy and handed out candy. Some waved hatchets and meat cleavers in solidarity with the killers.

A Palestinian pathologist, who participated in the examination, at first concurred with his Israeli counterpart that it was a case of suicide. But later ... changed his opinion...

 Two days earlier, a Palestinian bus driver from eastern Jerusalem was founded hanged. The post mortem examination determined it was suicide and no foul play was involved. A Palestinian pathologist, who participated in the examination, at first concurred with his Israeli counterpart that it was a case of suicide. But later, after meeting with the family of the dead man, he changed his opinion, saying it could have been murder. The Palestinians now allege the synagogue atrocity was in retaliation for the bus driver, who they allege was hanged by Jews. The synagogue blood-bath will trigger a further escalation of the extended round of Israeli-Palestinian violence that started with the kidnap-killing of three Israeli youths by Hamas terrorists on June 12, which escalated into a seven-week war between Israel and Hamas in Gaza.

 Just last week, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry met separately with Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in Jordan, where both leaders pledged to cool the confrontation. Netanyahu responded immediately by allowing Muslim men of all ages to pray at the Al Aqsa mosque on Jerusalem's Temple Mount. Abbas has repeated his condemnation of terrorism, but at the same time the Palestinian leader has been inciting against Israel by declaring that Jews have no right to the Temple Mount, the site of the biblical Jewish Temples and that the 'very presence of Jews there defiles the Temple Mount'.

Netanyahu held a news conference to declare that Israel was now engaged in 'the battle for its eternal capital Jerusalem'.

 After urgent consultations with senior security officials, Netanyahu held a news conference to declare that Israel was now engaged in 'the battle for its eternal capital Jerusalem'. He called on political and religious leaders worldwide to condemn the synagogue slaughter. After previously bolstering police presence in Jerusalem, Netanyahu then announced a series of tougher measures - desperate situations require desperate solutions:

  • Israel roadblocks would be placed around Arab neighborhoods in Jerusalem.
  • The homes of the terrorists who were responsible for murdering Israelis will be demolished - the Shabak Security Service contends this will induce some terrorists to think twice about perpetrating atrocities (for which Jihadists believe Allah will reward them with seventy-two virgins in Paradise).
  • Restrictions on owning a gun will be eased to enable more Israeli civilians to carry a firearm as they go about their daily affairs and intervene in the event of witnessing a terror attack.

 In any case, the synagogue slaughter exposes the specter of more Palestinian attacks on vulnerable targets such as schools and even kindergartens, where security must also be stepped up. Security experts say there is no panacea to suppress this 'lone-wolf' terrorism that is characterized by individual Palestinians suddenly deciding to strike. Until now Israel has adopted a defensive posture, but Netanyahu has decided to go on the offense.

... there is no panacea to suppress this 'lone-wolf' terrorism that is characterized by individual Palestinians suddenly deciding to strike.

 Bear in mind what happened last summer. After Hamas bombarded Israel with scores of rockets in July, Israel's leader ordered a massive but calibrated aerial offensive against Hamas rocket squads and arsenals. Look for Israel to swiftly step up the pressure, as it has no choice. At the same time, Netanyahu and Jerusalem's Mayor Nir Barkat have called on Israeli civilians not to take the law into their own hands. But tempers are running near the boiling point after the synagogue atrocity. The feeling is that this was one atrocity too many - Abbas can condemn it but he can't control it. Israel can and will do whatever it takes.

 

 

 

 David Essing

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