State of Israel-Palestinian clash

(photo by: Edi Israel | CC BY-SA 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons)
(photo by: Edi Israel | CC BY-SA 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons)

The Palestinian ‘Intifada of Knives’ has entered a new phase. It has broadened to include more cases of Palestinian drivers deliberately trying to harm Israelis by running them over. After the initial shock of coping with young Palestinian killers armed with knives and meat cleavers, Israel launched a series of preventative steps. The current wave of sporadic but deadly Palestinian attacks was ‘inspired’ by President Mahmoud Abbas, Hamas, and the Palestinian media. They whipped up a Muslim rage over false charges that Israel was planning to take control of the al Aqsa mosque on Jerusalem’s Temple Mount.

The result was that Jerusalem’s Arab neighborhoods became the flashpoint from where young Palestinians launched numerous attacks on Israeli civilians. Israel reacted by setting up checkpoints at exits as well as rushing police and army reinforcements to the capital. This has reduced, but not totally prevented, the Jerusalem attacks that have occurred mainly along the ‘seam line’ between Arab and Jewish neighborhoods.

In the western part of Jerusalem, where most Jews live, life has gone on more of less as usual…

In the western part of Jerusalem, where most Jews live, life has gone on more of less as usual – there is definitely no panic, although tension and fear is in the air. Tel Aviv, Israel’s main metropolitan area, has also recovered from its initial shock over young Palestinians armed with knives, looking for Jews to stab to death.

As a result, Hamas has called on Palestinian students to expand the attacks elsewhere. Hebron, where both Palestinian and Israeli neighborhoods are located, then became the site for fresh attacks, as well as Beer Sheba, and now Beit Shemesh.

But the salient fact in nearly every single case is that the Palestinian attacker has either been killed or captured. They cannot walk, or run away. This is the result of not only security personnel, but also individual citizens, who rush immediately to take on the killers. There is no time to wait for backup with a killer trying to butcher people in the streets. Every second counts.

For example, in Hebron, a Palestinian got near some IDF female soldiers and stabbed one in the neck and back. Her friend nearby did not panic. Instantly, she aimed her rifle and shot dead the assassin. The wounded soldier is expected to survive. The evacuation of the injured is also very swift with ambulances and even helicopters responding quickly.

(By the way, if you’re going to have a heart attack, Israel is the place – the country has one of the highest rates, if not highest, of survival in the world. That is not only because there are so many of “those good Jewish doctors”, but also because of the speed of evacuation to hospital). I now hear the siren of an ambulance racing past my home headed for Hadassah. But it’s only one, which means it’s just probably someone sick. There are several ambulances if it’s a serious terror attack.

…sometimes the Jewish medical team arriving at the scene of the attack would first treat the wounded Palestinian attacker before the Israeli victims…

Speaking of ambulances, there was a public debate on the Internet about Magen David Adom – that’s the Israeli version of the Red Cross emergency. People noticed that sometimes the Jewish medical team arriving at the scene of the attack would first treat the wounded Palestinian attacker before the Israeli victims! The MDA director confirmed this was the true, because according to medical ethics the most serious case had to be treated first. It also transpires that if the Palestinian terrorist has been injured in his attack, he is also paid a disability benefit by the Israeli government. If the terrorist was killed, the Israeli government also makes a payment to help his family, as is the case for every Israeli victim of the attack! This, however, is due to be changed.

The Beer Sheba incident…

With tension running so high, it was bound to happen.

beer_sheba_attackBeer Sheba Central Bus Station – Sunday evening: The main bus terminal in southern Israel was crowded after the Sabbath, with many soldiers among the travelers. Suddenly shots ring out. A video captures some four or five panic stricken Israelis racing for cover. An Eritrean foreign worker, also scared out of his wits, follows them. A plain-clothes Israeli policeman apparently thinks the dark – complexioned Eritrean, who looks like a Bedouin Arab, is a terrorist chasing the Israelis. He opens fire with his revolver hitting the suspect and knocking him to the floor. He is shot again while on the floor but is still not dead. An angry group of four Israelis then hit and kick him and the man dies.

The battering of the Eritrean is immediately condemned by Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, who warned that Israeli civilians will not be allowed ‘to take the law into their own hands’. Yes! Taking on terrorists caught in the act, but not beating someone who is incapacitated on the floor, even if they believed he was a terrorist. There was more condemnation from Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon, and right across the political spectrum.

The Israeli police launched an investigation and arrested four Israeli suspects. They expressed regret, adding they believed he was a terrorist. The subsequent post mortem revealed the Eritrean died of the gun shot wounds, so the suspects may not be tried for outright murder, but for assault.

In another case, an Israeli man who was acting suspiciously was stopped by two IDF soldiers on patrol in Jerusalem. The man went into a rage and started and scuffling with the two. A nearby security guard tried to use a Taser to shock him, but this did not stop him. When the man reportedly yelled ‘I am ISIL’, or ‘Who do you think I am, ISIL’, and tried to grab one of the soldier’s rifle, the second soldier shot and killed him. An investigation is now underway with the possibility that the soldiers could face a court-martial. An acquaintance later said the victim was ‘not all there’- he was an ultra-orthodox who served in the IDF and later entered an ultra-orthodox yeshiva seminary.

…they acted against an innocent man out of rage and fear.

Now bear this in mind that in the past Palestinian suicide bombers have often hidden powerful explosives under their clothing which they detonated when Israelis drew near, even if they were wounded. This is no excuse and does not condone what happened to the unfortunate Eritrean. He posed no threat and the civilians should have waited a few moments for the professional security personnel to arrive at the scene. But in fact, they acted against an innocent man out of rage and fear.

The vast consensus of Israeli opinion is this is not how Israelis should act, despite the extenuating circumstances. If a terrorist is coming at you or threatening your fellow citizens with a knife cleaver, by all means shoot to kill! Don’t try and shoot him in the leg or arm – if you miss it’s all over. You have a split second to act. The two mistaken identity incidents have raised questions about security personnel being too trigger-happy. It does not appear to be so in light of the dozens of terror attacks during the current surge. As the Good Book tells us: ‘He that comes to kill you, rise up early and kill him first!’

But to try and batter a human being to death even after the terrorist has been incapacitated, is not who we are. In this case, the poor guy was just an innocent foreign worker running for his life, like everyone else in the Beer Sheba bus depot! The other message is that no one should try and grab the weapon of an IDF soldier or policeman-or-woman these days. As for Israeli medics treating severely wounded Palestinian attackers before helping less injured Israeli victims – those blessed people in the medical profession must have their sacrosanct principles, and rightly so.

I notice that some of our American readers are comparing the issue of wider gun possession in Israel to that in the U.S. However, the situation is different. While properly suited and sane Israelis, most of whom have received military and weapons training, are encouraged to go out with their weapons and be ready to use them if witness to a terror attack, this is in order to multiply the number of security personnel.

At present, the Israeli police are stretched to the limit – have been doing double shifts with almost no days off for over three weeks. IDF draftees have been re-assigned from their combat training, after receiving a weapons course, to guard Israel civilians. Moreover, all Israeli civilians must hold a gun permit that is issued only after giving proof of no criminal record and receiving periodic training at shooting ranges. No civilian can buy a weapon without presenting his official gun permit. So, in Israel there is relatively strict gun control – you just can’t go to your nearest friendly gun dealer and buy what you want. In fact, you can only purchase a handgun.

Yesterday I asked a cab driver if he was packing a rod. He replied that he would, if he could, but he can’t. He explained that he was divorced and it is illegal for him to have a gun because divorced spouses sometimes wind up shooting their former partners. He felt it was unfair, in his case, because he and his ex are actually still friendly.

Hopefully…Kerry…will come up with some ‘constructive ambiguity’ to resolve the Temple Mount controversy that has spawned the current wave of knife wielding terrorists.

In any event, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has gotten back in the act, trying to de-escalate the current Israeli-Palestinian inferno. Hopefully this time Kerry the ‘kibitzer’ will come up with some ‘constructive ambiguity’ to resolve the Temple Mount controversy that has spawned the current wave of knife wielding terrorists. But to be fair, it will be up to Netanyahu and Abbas to do their part.

 al Aqsa mosque on the Temple Mount

al Aqsa mosque on the Temple Mount

What contribution can Netanyahu make? IDF General (ret.) Eli ‘Chinie’ Marom has suggested that Netanyahu temporarily ban Israeli citizens from visiting the Temple Mount (if anyone has forgotten, it was first the site of the revered First and Second JEWISH temples before it was co-opted hundreds of years later by the Muslims for building the al Aqsa mosque). This would spark a wave of bitter protest from the Right wing in Israel, but Marom notes that there is a precedent. The Israeli government banned Jews from visiting Temple Mount during the Second Palestinian Intifada back in 2000. But then Labor’s Prime Minister Ehud Barak was calling the shots. Later of course, the ban was lifted when things quieted down.

After meeting with Netanyahu for four hours in Berlin, Kerry said he now had ‘a cautious measure of optimism’ before he meets with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. For his part, Abbas may now be willing to cool off the situation. A Palestinian source in Ramallah told Israel Radio that Abbas would not allow the Fatah Tanzim force, under his control, to join the current escalation against Israel. However, Abbas insisted that al Aqsa was not the only problem – unless other issues were resolved, there would be a further escalation. Moreover, Abbas would appeal for international protection of the Palestinians from Israel (this, while Palestinians are running around trying to stab Israelis).

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