Israel will suppress terrorism but will not punish Palestinian population

Palestinian brand of ‘do it yourself’ terrorism…

Scene of a recent stabbing attack in the Old City of Jerusalem
Scene of a recent stabbing attack in the Old City of Jerusalem

A young Palestinian wakes up in the morning, or maybe on the spur of the moment, and decides to attack Israelis. He, or she, takes a butcher knife or a sharpened screw-driver or makes a Molotov cocktail and then goes looking for some Israelis to kill. Their preferred target is an Israeli soldier in uniform or an ultra-orthodox Jew dressed in black or wearing a skull-cap – that’s to prevent the terrorist from attacking another Palestinian by mistake. The less ambitious rely on forming a gang of ten, twenty or more who hurl big rocks to smash and stop Israeli cars and maybe lynch the driver. In one case, they almost succeeded before a lone woman, although injured, managed to get away – in this case driving for her life! These lone-wolf attacks have suddenly escalated into eight or more on the same day. Naturally, Israeli and Palestinian radio and TV stations carried vivid accounts of the almost hourly attacks. This may have led to a ‘copy-cat’ phenomenon among teen-age Palestinians, while arousing alarm among Israelis. But the main source is to be found elsewhere.

Jerusalem’s mayor – if you have a handgun, be prepared to use it!

In Jerusalem, Mayor Nir Barkat even recommended that Israelis with gun permits make sure to carry their handguns and be ready to shoot to kill if they see a Palestinian trying to murder someone. But subsequently, a senior Israeli police officer took a dim view, warning it could lead to cases of mistaken identity. I think the police officer was covering his butt. Consider this: Tens of thousands of regular IDF soldiers and reservists go home with their automatic rifles as a matter of course. So what’s the big deal? On the contrary, if we’re to be threatened by knives, meat cleavers, etc., I think the IDF should start issuing handguns to reservists who serve in combat units and are deemed fit to serve on the battlefield. Clearly the debate indicates these lone wolf attacks have shocked the country.


Netanyahu unfolds anti-terror strategy…

So what’s to be done? Netanyahu first beefed up police patrols in the main arena of Jerusalem, but this has failed to suppress the terrorism. For example, on the way taken by Jewish worshippers to the Western Wall in the Old City of Jerusalem, a Palestinian shot dead two Israelis and seriously wounded a third. Naturally more police were deployed on this crucial route. But two days later, another Palestinian stabbed an Israeli in the back and head. The Israeli, turned out to be a reserve paratrooper who was packing a handgun. He managed to pull it out and shoot dead the assailant. Suppressing this ‘intifada (uprising) of knives’ is very difficult. There are no telltale signs for the Shabak Security Service to detect, and no intelligence traces from organized terror cells that may leave intelligence traces. These normal tactics can penetrate and smash the ring before it launches an attack.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has now indicated he is also worried the bloodshed could spin out of control.

But so far, this is still no full-blown intifada such as in 1987 and 2000 when hundreds of thousands of Palestinians supported the violence by word and deed. Moreover, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has now indicated he is also worried the bloodshed could spin out of control. This is not because he is concerned for Israel, rather he is looking over his shoulder at his rival Hamas, which might exploit the situation to topple him in the West Bank, the way they did in Gaza. On this score, Abbas has ordered his security forces to continue their operations to prevent terror attacks from the West Bank.

Obviously he is in a very delicate position, and is accused by some Palestinians of collaborating with the Israelis. Abbas has stated publicly that he has always opposed violence and sought peaceful resolutions. In response, Prime Minister Netanyahu has welcomed this statement, but says the days ahead will reveal if Abbas is on the level. But it cannot be denied that Abbas has done his share of inciting against Israel over the Temple Mount issue.

       “The Jews have no right there and their filthy feet must not be permitted to defile our sacred ‘Haram al Sharif!”

This is the Arabic name for Temple Mount, the site of the Jewish First and Second Temples. But in the wake of their destruction, the disputed area was confiscated by the Muslims to build the Al Aqsa mosque. It is this mosque that has become the flash point of the current violence. Muslim Leaders, primarily Sheik Raid Salah, who heads the northern branch of the Islamist Movement in Israel, has long claimed that Israel plans on demolishing the Al Aqsa mosque and replacing it with a new Jewish Temple. This has incensed the Palestinians despite the repeated denials by all Israeli leaders and the lack of any evidence that Israel is planning to do so.

However, on the far Right in Israel there is a relatively very small group of Israeli religious and nationalist fanatics who do favor it, or at least the right to pray on Temple Mount. According to Israeli secular law, Jews are not permitted to pray on the Temple Mount. In fact, it is fair to say that most rabbis forbid Jews from praying there because of its sanctity. Nonetheless Palestinian leaders, including Abbas, have been stoking the religious flames.

At a joint news conference in Jerusalem, Netanyahu declared that his first priority was to restore security. Since Al Aqsa was the focal point, he barred all Israeli Knesset Members, Jew and Arab alike, from visiting Temple Mount at this time:

       “We don’t need any more explosive detonators up there now!”

He also rejected demands by Right wing coalition partners such as Naftali Bennett and Ayalet Shaked, who call for Israel to respond to the terror attacks by building new settlements. Netanyahu was adamant – international support for Israel’s moves was vital and there should be no jeopardizing of this goal. Besides, nobody could berate him for his lack settlement building in the past.

Nor would Israel launch a large-scale military operation on the West Bank, like Gaza over a year ago when the IDF was ordered to suppress the Hamas’ rocketing of Israel. Moreover, Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon added that IDF special units have long conducted raids against terror cells on the West Bank to prevent their carrying out attacks. On this score, IDF Chief of Staff Gen. Gadi Eizenkot reassured the public:

       “My hands are not tied and we will restore security – we have faced similar challenges in the past and overcome them.”

Netanyahu also indicated there would be no closure of the West Bank that would prevent over forty thousand Palestinians from going to work in Israel daily. This would only alienate further the Palestinian population. So while more IDF troops would be deployed (the Israel Police are already going all-out), there would be no shooting from the hip when it came to devising a new strategy for coping with this new brand of terrorism. But he left no doubt there would be a crackdown on Sheikh Salah calibrated with tactics on the ground aimed solely at the young terrorists and their parents who will be held responsible in the case of juveniles. This is to include mandatory jail terms for the perpetrators and heavy fines for the parents.

In the year 2000, Prime Minister Ehud Barak allowed the then far Right Ariel Sharon to visit Temple Mount. This sparked the bloody Second Intifada – this time Netanyahu is making a determined effort to cool off the highly volatile situation.

 Israeli retaliation…

Just in: In the Negev town of Dimona, a seventeen-year-old Israeli Jew took a knife and screwdriver and retaliated. He stabbed four Arab municipality employees. Two were seriously hurt. Police arrested the attacker, who has a criminal record. Prime Minister Netanyahu immediately condemned the Jewish attack, saying no one would be permitted to take the law into his or her hands and the attacker would be prosecuted with the full rigor of the law, no matter Arab or Jew.

In the West Bank, a Palestinian stabbed and lightly injured an Israeli policeman at the entrance to the Jewish community near Hebron. A second policeman shot and critically wounded the attacker. Yesterday a Palestinian stabbed and seriously wounded a civilian guard near the same spot. The terrorist got way. And also in the region, a group of Israeli settlers decided to settle the score and headed for an Arab village, however IDF troops intervened and prevented the clash.

All eyes were on the Temple Mount for the weekly Friday prayers at the Al Aqsa mosque. Israeli security forces were deployed around the area and only Muslim men over the age of forty-five were permitted to attend the prayers in order to preserve quiet. The prayers have reportedly ended without incident.

ISIL & Palestinian wave of terror…

The Palestinians are also Sunni Muslims and the message of ISIL has not been lost on some of them…

Bear this in mind that the TV coverage and reporting on the ISIL atrocities, the horrific executions the enslavement of women, have attracted Muslims from all over the world. ISIL members are Sunni Muslims and are perpetrating this barbarism in the name of Islam. The Palestinians are also Sunni Muslims and the message of ISIL has not been lost on some of them who have been arrested on suspicion of contacting ISIL and even planning to join its ranks. Israeli experts do not rule out the possibility that the aura of ISIL in some parts of the Sunni Islamic world have also influenced some of the young terrorists who are caught up in this current wave of terrorism in Israel. The situation is so volatile it’s hard to perceive what will happen next.

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