Photo Credit: Ariel Hermoni/Israeli Defense Ministry.
Defense Minister Yoav Gallant visits the IDF's Judea and Samaria Division, Jan. 29, 2023.

Less than a month after its establishment, the “extremely” right-wing government of Benjamin Netanyahu-Bezalel Smotrich-Itamar Ben-Gvir finds itself in its first volatile and particularly complex baptism by fire on security matters. Even though the current wave of terrorism began about 11 months ago during the previous government – this weekend’s terrorist attacks, and especially the attack in Neve Ya’akov on Friday evening, showed that the escalation is not going to let up any time soon – and if anything, it is going to get worse.

On Friday evening shortly after the first attack, security officials realized that the “success” of the attack might lead to copycat attacks inspired by the terrorist who murdered seven Israelis in cold blood. The police immediately raised the terror alert level, and the IDF also announced that it would increase forces in Judea and Samaria. However, the reinforcements and increased terror alert level failed to prevent another serious attack Saturday morning.


Israeli security forces did not have advanced intelligence prior to the weekend attacks; however, after IDF forces entered the heart of the Jenin refugee camp on Thursday to stop a terrorist cell that was defined as a “ticking time bomb”, it was already clear that we were going to have a complicated weekend ahead of us.

It can only be assumed that if it had been known ahead of time that the situation would develop this way, the same actions might not have been taken. Despite this, the IDF stated that it was a necessary operation.

As expected, considering the high number of casualties, the terrorist organizations immediately threatened revenge, and in response, the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, with the approval of Hamas, fired seven rockets at Israel – four of which were intercepted, with the others falling in open areas. Hamas “participated in the celebration” when it announced that it fired anti-aircraft missiles at an aircraft, which was sent in response to the rockets launched at Israel.

While the conventional wisdom among Israeli officials is that Hamas has no interest in escalating now, Israeli intelligence agencies have been indicating for a long time that the terrorist organization is inciting terrorism in Judea and Samaria. Whether the terrorists from east Jerusalem acted according to Hamas’ instructions or not, the attacks this past weekend are exactly what the terrorist organizations wanted to achieve when they called for revenge. In addition to revenge, they want Israel to remember this weekend and hesitate the next time they think of entering the Jenin refugee camp.

Whether they were involved or not, there is not any evidence that the terrorist organizations were involved in the attacks this past weekend. If they were “lone-wolf” attacks, experience has shown us that the most effective actions against them include extensive deployment of forces on the ground, proper preparation, and increasing the Shin Bet intelligence collection activities.

On Saturday night the Diplomatic-Security Cabinet convened for an emergency discussion. On the agenda: massive security reinforcements, immediate sealing of terrorists’ homes, arrest of their families, promotion of family deportation law, and more. However, when Smotrich and Ben-Gvir are in such significant key positions, it is doubtful whether they will be satisfied with that.

The heart breaks, and the blood boils. However, decisions regarding security measures should be made with deliberate thought – not from emotions; in a way that will calm the situation, and not continue the cycle of violence. A complex and volatile period is ahead of us – especially since the month of Ramadan, which is notorious for elevated tensions and violence, starts in a few weeks. It is yet to be seen if Ben-Gvir and Smotrich will see things differently than before they were elected.


{Reposted from IsraelHayom}


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