With 400 or more Judea and Samaria and eastern Jerusalem Arabs thrown behind bars over the past year or so, it appears that Israel’s security apparatus has come up with a working solution for keeping down, if not completely putting the lid over the two-year terror wave known as the “knives intifada,” according to Amos Har’el writing for Ha’aretz.
The main challenge faced by Israeli security forces in dealing with the current intifada, which began in the fall of 2015, on the eve of Rosh Hashanah, in fact, was its sporadic nature. With the Hamas and Fatah terror infrastructure destroyed or subdued across Judea and Samaria since 2003, the majority of the individuals who have carried out attacks – stabbing, throwing stones on vehicles, ramming pedestrians, throwing Molotov cocktails, and using live firearms – have resulted from spur-of-the-moment decisions. How could the security apparatus handle what was essentially moment-improvisations on the part of unaffiliated people?
The answer is complex, but, according to Har’el, the most effective reason for the decline of the wave of terror comes from a vigilant tracking of Arab social media, where the improvising individuals first tell the world of their plans. Early detection of potential terrorists, who are about to pick Mom’s best kitchen knife and go murder a Jew, results in vastly enhanced overnight raids and arrests.
At least 2,200 potential attackers have been identified in this manner over the past year as being in various stages of readiness to carry out their terror fantasies, and 400 of them were then determined to have reached the point of no return and were arrested. The names of another 400 individuals were turned over to the Palestinian Authority security forces which picked them up for a warning talk. The rest received similar warning visits from IDF and Shin Bet officials, visits that also included those suspects’ parents.
In this context, Friday’s murderous stabbing of a British student in Jerusalem is the exception that proves the rule: the attacker was a mental patient in his 50s who acted on his inner voices which he didn’t share on Facebook. He was also cast away from his family on account of his sex crimes, so the option of a supportive talk from his ilk was out of the question.
The report includes additional factors, such as the growing understanding in the Arab population that the new terrorism isn’t getting them anywhere politically despite its heavy toll in young lives, and the PA’s decision to cooperate with Israel in warning Arab youths against embarking on a terror attack.
This also means that as soon as cooperation with Israel becomes less beneficial to the powers that be in Ramallah – such as following the demise of PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas (82) – the wave of terror, unhindered by voices of reason, could return in full force.