The weather has finally turned warm here. It seems like we skipped spring and went straight to summer. Along with the heat and the haze come incitement and terrorism, which will very likely develop – as it did last year at this time – into war and insurrection.
Last month saw three high-profile terror attacks inside the Green Line, in which 11 people were murdered (including Christian Arab and Druze police officers, and two Ukrainian workers). Fatah* and Hamas praised the terrorists, and as usual sweets were distributed in Gaza and weapons fired in the air to commemorate the success of the “operations.” Significantly, two of the three terrorists were Israeli Arab citizens.
The events of last year began with demonstrations at the Temple Mount in support of the Arab families in the Shimon Hatzadik (Sheikh Jarrah) neighborhood who were to be evicted for non-payment of rent (they are still there, thanks to the Israeli Supreme Court). When police entered the Mount to confiscate stockpiled weapons, violent clashes ensued. Hamas issued an “ultimatum,” and then began launching rockets at Jerusalem and other cities in Israel. Hamas and Islamic Jihad fired 4,350 rockets; 680 of them fell short, landing in Gaza and causing numerous casualties there. 12 Israeli civilians were killed by rockets, and one soldier died when his jeep was struck by an antitank weapon.
During the 12 days of war, violent clashes between police and Arabs in eastern Jerusalem continued. At the same time, an unprecedented wave of what could only be called pogroms swept over Israeli towns with mixed Jewish-Arab populations. In Lod, Ramle, Acco, Yafo, and Haifa, Jews and Jewish property were attacked:
In little more than a week, Arab rioters set 10 synagogues and 112 Jewish residences on fire, looted 386 Jewish homes and damaged another 673, and set 849 Jewish cars on fire. There were also 5,018 recorded instances of Jews being stoned. Three Jews were murdered and more than 600 were hurt. Over 300 police officers were injured in disturbances in over 90 locations across the country.
… although some commentators have push [sic] the ‘both sides’ line, no mosques were damaged, one Arab home was firebombed (by Arabs that mistook it for a Jewish home), 13 Arab homes and cars were damaged, and 41 Arab bystanders were hurt by hurled stones. There were also two attacks by Jewish extremists against Arab bystanders …
This was an attempt to incite a full-fledged insurrection against the Jewish state. The police were unprepared for the scope of the violence and in many cases Jewish residents were left to fend for themselves or flee (to find their homes ransacked on their return). To many who remembered life in the diaspora, the feeling of helplessness was familiar.
This year, as Ramadan begins and Passover approaches, the situation is similar to that before the previous outbreak. Hamas and the PA have been inciting their (apparently easily suggestible) clientele with the traditional calls to “defend al-Aqsa” against Jewish desecration. Recently Foreign Minister Yair Lapid visited the Damascus Gate (Sha’ar Shechem), the site of nightly violent demonstrations, to show support for the police, who are doing their best to keep them from getting out of hand. Hamas called the visit – of the Israeli FM to a location in Israel’s capital city! – a “dangerous escalation,” and threatened unspecified “consequences.”
Several nascent terror attacks have been nipped in the bud by the actions of security forces. In one case, three terrorists on their way to carry out an attack were intercepted by the special counterterrorism unit of the border police (Yamam), who engaged in a firefight, killing the terrorists. Four of the officers were wounded, one seriously.
The policy of the government seems to be to avoid escalation, while the PA and Hamas want the opposite. It won’t take much to set it off, and the expectation is that if there is another explosion, it will be characterized by rocket attacks – possibly with more and better long-range rockets than last year – as well as terrorism from Judea and Samaria and riots by Israeli Arabs. Each time this happens there are new touches. The weather has turned hot and dry, so we can expect fires to be set in the forests around Jerusalem and the agricultural lands in the Negev.
Also each time this happens, the propaganda assault against Israel takes off: the exaggeration of casualties in Gaza (and the attribution of self-inflicted ones to the IDF), the stories about security personnel “murdering children in cold blood” (an 18-year old shot with a flaming firebomb in his hand), or the reports of “extrajudicial executions” (of terrorists on murderous rampages). We will see the usual comparisons to Nazis and perhaps now also to Russians.
American officials will take time off from appeasing Iran to demand a cease-fire, especially if it appears (as is highly unlikely) that the IDF intends to actually harm Hamas in Gaza. The PA will get a pass for its incitement, and continue to receive funds from the US and Israel to pay the terrorists that murder us. Terrorism, rioting, and anti-Jewish pogroms will be attributed to poverty and discrimination, and we’ll be told that more money needs to be invested in Gaza, the PA, and Arab towns inside the Green Line.
My personal feeling is this: let it come, and let us for once strike back like we want to win, and not just return to normalcy. What we have now isn’t normalcy, it’s attrition. They are wearing us down, in Judea and Samaria, in the Negev, in the Galilee, in the mixed towns, and around the border with Gaza. Let it come, and let us take the opportunity to begin the long, difficult process of reasserting our sovereignty – over all of the Land of Israel.
* Fatah was founded in 1959 by Yasser Arafat and several others with the goal of “liberating Palestine.” By 1967, under the tutelage of the Soviet KGB, it became “the dominant force in Palestinian politics.” In 1969, Arafat became the chairman of the PLO, an umbrella organization of Palestinian nationalist groups. When Israeli leaders stupidly agreed to recognize the PLO as the “legitimate representative of the Palestinian people” (instead of an outlaw terrorist gang) in the Oslo Accords, the PLO became – in its incarnation as the Palestinian Authority (PA) – a quasi-government which came to rule those parts of Judea, Samaria, and Gaza (from which they were ousted by Hamas in 2007) with large Arab populations. Essentially, the PA is the PLO, which in turn is Fatah. Mahmoud Abbas, the “president” of the PA – he calls it the “State of Palestine” – is also the chairman of the PLO and the head of Fatah.
This is important, because Fatah explicitly promotes violent action against Israel, and many terrorist acts have been carried out by its operatives. Thus the acceptance of the PA as a partner in any way, or cooperation with it, or providing financial support to it – all of which Israel has done and continues to do – is equivalent to cooperation with terrorism.