Otzma Yehudit Mk Zvika Fogel, a retired Brigadier General, 66, on Saturday night, following Friday night’s massacre of 8 in Neve Yaakov, Jerusalem by an Arab terrorist, and Shabbat morning’s attack on civilians by a teenage terrorist, told a News12 panel: “I’ll tell you in the simplest possible language – between calming things down and exploding the arena, what would, in the end, bring the results I want? I’m going with the explosion, never mind the calm. Look where the calming has brought us.”
“Let’s admit that this reality is intolerable, and we must change it,” Fogel continued. “Because if we continue to do the same thing, we’ll get the same results. I propose: let’s do different things.”
בלי למצמץ – לפוצץ! pic.twitter.com/PDt0Xm9zbD
— צביקה פוגל (@tzvikafoghel) January 28, 2023
Earlier today, I commented on the Security Cabinet’s series of steps to fight terrorism and exact a price on terrorists and those who support them, saying they were feeble and mostly horsepucky (Security Cabinet Declares 6 Steps to Shut the Barn Doors before the Next Horses).
On Sunday morning, speaking on Reshet Bet radio, MK Fogel elaborated: “I’ll tell you what needs to be done in four words: closure, destruction, thwarting, and expulsion.”
Here’s the thing, though: Israel has been doing all his four ideas since the 1970s, under left- and right-wing governments, with dubious results. They were inconsistent, often the AG or the High Court of Justice would steal their thunder, and sooner or later a left-leaning defense minister such as Ehud Barak or Benny Gantz would shift directions and quash any effort to stomp out terrorism in a big way. The last time Israel tried something massive and long-lasting against terrorism was following the March 2002 Park Hotel massacre.
Frankly, when Fogel started talking, I expected him, the definition of a right-wing hawk, to suggest imposing a military rule on Israeli and PA Arab populations as a temporary measure to rid the country of all terrorists.
Can’t work? Depends on who you ask. The fact is that back in 1948, Israeli Jews mistrusted their Arab neighbors whom they just defeated in the war of Liberation, and so, the first Ben Gurion government imposed a military regime on its Arab citizens that lasted until 1968. When Israeli boomers talk wistfully about the good old days before the Six-Day War when there was zero Arab terrorism? The answer is that Arab terrorism was held in check by a repressive military regime that controlled everything, including the most elementary human rights such as freedom of speech, and freedom of movement.
The legal instrument for establishing military rule was the Emergency Defense Regulations that had been enacted by the British Mandate government in 1945, against the Jewish undergrounds. All ben Gurion did was turn the same regulations against the Arabs.
These regulations allowed the military government to take actions such as confiscating property, demolishing buildings, deporting residents, expropriating land, and restricting movement without a permit against the Arab communities in the Galilea, the Arab Triangle between Hadera and Afula, and the Negev. Among other things, the military government used regulation 145, which, according to historians Ismail Abu Saad and Rasem Hamaisi, “gave the military governors the authority to declare the closure of a certain area and to limit movement in and to it, or to completely prevent entry to it after the relocation of its residents. The use of this regulation resulted in the reduction of the Arab territory and was an effective means that allowed the institutions of the Jewish settlers to create a new Jewish settlement layout, and to house the million-plus new olim in abandoned Arab houses, especially in cities that were emptied of their Arabs.”
At the same time, the military government worked to limit the mobility of the Arabs and expropriate some of their lands.
As part of the military government, Israeli Arabs were required to leave their villages only with their movement permits (day and night until 1963, only at night until 1968 – DI). The movement ban was based on Rule 125 of the Emergency Defense Regulations. These approvals were sometimes obtained in return for assistance to the Shin Bet.
All of these regulations are still available to the Netanyahu government, and it can choose to impose them again either in a blanket fashion or on individual communities. There are ample legal justifications for doing it, and if they are used temporarily and for specific goals, no Attorney General or Supreme Court can stop them. What’s needed is imagination and fearlessness.