Photo Credit: Israel Police / screenshot
Female Arab terrorist stabbing Hassidic man in Jerusalem on August 12 2017

Over Shabbat, a female terrorist who holds an Israeli ID card attempted to stab a Haredi Jewish man and stabbed an Israeli Arab whom she mistook for a Jew because he was wearing a tee-shirt with Hebrew letters on it. The question remains, what would prompt an Arab woman who is the mother of 5 small children to wage such a murderous terror attack? It is possible that incitement played an important role in this development. Since 2015, Israel has been experiencing a wave of terror that is fueled by the lie that Al Aqsa is in danger and there has been an escalation ever since Israel temporarily installed metal detectors on the Temple Mount following the murder of two Druze police officers.

A few days before this recent terror attack, Palestinian Media Watch reported that Hamas celebrated the 16th anniversary of the Sbarro Pizzeria terror attack by proclaiming: “The news of the operation made Palestinians joyous everywhere. The largest celebrations were in honor of the hero [suicide bomber Al-Masri]… Masses of people went out to the streets, cheered, and distributed candies out of happiness.” In that brutal terror attack during the Second Intifada, 15 Israelis among them 7 children were brutally massacred. 130 others were wounded. The youngest of the victims was 2-years-old, a baby who did not get the chance to live and was murdered just because he was Jewish.


Also right before this recent terror attack, Palestinian Media Watch reported that Fatah hosted a summer camp for children named after female terrorist Dalal Mughrabi, who murdered 37 civilians among them 12 children. 70 others were wounded in this horrific terror attack in 1978. The Coastal Road Massacre that she implemented was the most lethal terror attack in Israel’s history yet Palestinians celebrate it to date and Dalal Mughrabi’s legacy continues to inspire numerous Palestinian women, who seek to follow in her footsteps. Both Fatah and Hamas encourage this development. Around the same period of time, the Center for Near East Policy reported that Hamas has initiated summer camps with the theme of “marching on Jerusalem.” Meanwhile, MEMRI reported that PA TV that is run by Fatah continues to incite, claiming not too long before this terror attack that Jews are the root of all evil in this world.

But the issue is not confined to Hamas and Fatah. UNRWA and the PA schools are also part of the problem.  The Center for Near East Policy Research proclaimed: “Al-Kutla al-Islamiya, a division of Hamas, runs military activities, which attract UNRWA’s younger students, paving the way for recruitment in the al-Qassam Brigades, the military wing of Hamas.  UNRWA education teaches children how to fight, to shoot lethal weapons, to use hand grenades, and to climb through various spaces all in preparation for war. After exposure to al-Kutla, elementary and middle schoolers join a week long war games program, held in a military camp, where they study ‘jihad, determination, to trust Allah and other Islamic values’ in addition to military tactics. In other words, a UN agency openly violates the UN Convention of the Rights of the Child, which states ‘children… should not be forced or recruited to take part in a war or join the armed forces.’”

Yahya Mahamid, an Israeli Arab educator at Stand With Us, an international non-profit Israeli education organization , who is famous for taking down pro-ISIS graffiti in Umm Al Fahm, stated an in exclusive interview: “There are Palestinian teachers and UNRWA teachers caught teaching incitement. They described Jews in an anti-Semitic way. They encouraged anti-Semitism in the Palestinian schools. Shurat HaDin had a case of 50 incidents of Palestinian teachers who were caught demonstrating anti-Semitism on social media, in the textbooks, etc. They are teaching anti-Semitism and that the Jewish people have no right to this land. They claim they are not indigenous.”   This issue is widespread throughout the Arab educational system and also includes schools that are designed for Christian children. According to a study conducted by the Center for Near East Policy Research, even Christian textbooks in use in PA and UNRWA schools in Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria and in Gaza blame Jews for the death of Jesus Christ

While it is true that it is known that incitement is widespread in the Palestinian Authority, it is critical to note that Israeli Arabs and East Jerusalemites with Israeli Blue ID cards such as this female terrorist are also exposed to incitement against Israel: “There is a lot of incitement and misinformation. This statement Al Aqsa is in danger has been used since the early days of the Israeli-Arab conflict.  And here we are, 70 years later, the Al Aqsa Mosque is safe and one of Israel’s top priorities on the Temple Mount is to maintain the status quo. The statement Al Aqsa is in danger is a tool to place political pressure on Israel because they know that Israel will maintain the status quo. This incitement has been going for a really long time. It is due to the lack of information and the incitement spread by Arab leaders and the Arab media.”

“I personally studied in the Israeli system,” he stressed. “All Israeli Arabs are under the Israeli education system. It is not as bad as the Palestinian education system but there still are incidents. There were in my school incidents.

Nevertheless, there was no incitement in the books there.” However, according to Dr. Mordechai Kedar, Israeli Arabs are still exposed to incitement from other sources: “We have two major problems with the Arab sector in Israel. One is the Islamic Movement that incites against Israel day and night and the other one is the Balad Party (part of Joint Arab List), who are Arab nationalists. They can be every kind of subdivision of Arabs, whether Christian, Druze, Bedouin or Muslim Arab but the propaganda that emanates is very problematic.”

Mahamid concurred, stressing that the Joint Arab List and Islamic Movement incitement influences some Israeli Arabs: “From what I see, some are not very happy with the metal detectors for they think Israel is trying to change the status quo. That is what they are being taught. They push the idea Al Aqsa is in danger in order to galvanize the group.   Some Israeli Arabs buy the lies and unfortunately, some of those lies are coming from Knesset members. Ahmed Tibi was filmed saying that the Temple Mount only belongs to the Muslims. They were quiet about the weapons smuggled into the Temple Mount that killed 2 police officers. They don’t speak about the need for the metal detectors to preserve the safety of all. Some of them condemned the metal detectors. Some of them were present at the protests of the metal detectors. They were in the front lines of some of the protests. Haneen Zoabi was trying to provoke police officers. Those actions don’t help. Instead of leading Israeli Arabs in the correct path, they do the opposite. They go against the idea of security and shout Al Aqsa only belongs to the Muslims, abuse and provoke police officers, call for people to go to Jerusalem on a day of rage, etc. They are inciting more violence. They never miss a chance to incite violence.”

According to Mahamid, this incitement is not helping anyone or anything: “If they respect a holy place of worship, they would not be calling for a day of rage. They would be asking people to just pray. They claim Israel is denying access to everyone and it is not true. They are pushing for more violence like the Halamish family or the Israeli Arab that was stabbed in Petach Tikva or the recent stabbings over Shabbat. Those leaders want this violence to continue for they are not affected by it and it gains them more support in their future careers. This incitement must stop. Those lies must be countered. The current situation is not helping anyone. The Al Aqsa Mosque is under the Waqf. They are also responsible for what happened. Instead of fighting on the street against security measures that are also implemented in the Arab world in Kuwait and Mecca, they should stand against this and say we don’t want this after a terror attack. Saying you are against a metal detector on a holy place is anti-Semitism.  Its double standards. Its anti-Semitism and now they are using lies to push for a political agenda that has no basis on facts and it is hurting the Palestinians and Muslims more than anyone else.”

The female terrorist who implemented the recent Jerusalem terror attack claimed that she deliberately chose to attack Jews.  It appears that incitement also played a role in her decision.  However, for female terrorists, there are often additional motives that are also significant as well. It was reported in some media outlets that this woman was having family problems prior to implementing the terror attack.  According to Dr. Mordechai Kedar, “There is a possibility that it is a result of some problem that they have in their family, this might push a lady to do something to get killed in an honorable way and to get imprisoned in order to get freedom from the family. If this lady who tried to kill the Haredi man and the Israeli Arab man wearing a tee-shirt with Hebrew letters had some problems with her husband, to take a knife and to stab a Jew might relieve her of her miserable life with her husband.”

According to the book “Women and Jihad: Debating Palestinian Female Suicide Bombings in the American, Israeli and Arab Media,” of the eight female suicide bombers of the Second Intifada, Palestinian nationalism was a primary motivating factor for the suicide bombings of 5 of them.  At the same time, in five out of the eight cases, the available literature suggested that the conduct and predicaments experienced by these Palestinian women cannot be considered normative within Palestinian society. One of them was a barren divorcee, one had a relative who was a suspected collaborator and Israeli intelligence claims she was pregnant out of wedlock, one had an extramarital affair, one was raped and one was publicly dishonored for kissing a man.

Indeed, it is plausible that the female terrorists of this current wave of terror have similar motivations. In fact, counter-terror expert Dr. Nancy Kobrin has even argued that when the terrorist is a woman, nationalism and incitement is definitely a factor in influencing the women to wage terror attacks but it is secondary to the abuse that these women experience in their society: “A shame honor culture is a culture of terror and to live under a death threat.” If her husband abused her or raped her, which is a possibility that should be investigated, it is possible that this female terrorist sought to commit a terror attack in order to die or be imprisoned and harming Jews was just an honorable way within her culture for her to achieve this end.


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Rachel Avraham is the CEO of the Dona Gracia Center for Diplomacy and an Israel-based journalist. She is the author of "Women and Jihad: Debating Palestinian Female Suicide Bombings in the American, Israeli and Arab Media."