Analysis: Searching for signs of organized terrorism in Jerusalem

Security forces will check whether someone sent the three armed terrorists or whether they organized themselves

February 3, 2016 22:27
2 minute read.
A man pours water over blood stains at the scene where 3 Palestinian terrorists were shot dead by Is

A man pours water over blood stains at the scene where 3 Palestinian terrorists were shot dead by Israeli police after carrying out a shooting and stabbing attack outside Damascus Gate to Jerusalem's Old City February 3, 2016.. (photo credit: REUTERS)

The Border Police officers who stopped three armed Palestinian terrorists in Jerusalem prevented a massacre, paying the heaviest price imaginable in carrying out their duties.

For the second time this week, Palestinians carried out gun attacks, marking a disturbing yet not surprising trend toward more firearms in the “mix” with stabbing and car-ramming incidents.

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The three attackers from the Jenin area had been acting suspiciously near Damascus Gate as they prepared to launch their attacks, drawing the attention of alert and professional Border Police officers.

Security forces will now be focusing their investigation on the key question of whether the terrorists, armed with two automatic weapons, a handgun, pipe bombs as well as knives, got together and planned the attack on their own, or whether someone – a terrorist faction – armed them and provided instructions on when and where to strike.

According to Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) records, none of the three has previous security arrests or convictions, or known factional affiliations. Yet the question of whether their attack had been orchestrated by a group remained without a clear answer on Wednesday night. Since the wave of violence erupted in September, there have been a few previous cases of multiple attackers working together.

One example is the October gun and knife attack on a Jerusalem bus, in which one terrorist shot at passengers from the outside, while his accomplice launched a stabbing spree on board, killing two passengers.

Even before the four-month wave of terrorism began, two east Jerusalem Arabs went on a gun and ax attack on Jewish worshipers in a Har Nof synagogue in Jerusalem in November 2014, murdering four civilians and a police officer.

Two gun attacks in one week is an escalation of such incidents, and it unfortunately is in line with IDF assessments that sooner or later, if efforts to calm the situation fail, more and more terrorists will take the form of gunmen, alongside the knife attackers.

“This will not end tomorrow. The wave of terrorism will continue – no one can predict for how long. We will encounter more shootings. It will not be an organized shift, but I expect to see more gun attacks,” a senior IDF source told The Jerusalem Post in December.

“Stabbings have not been very effective recently. They will try something else,” he warned at the time.

This week’s events have shown that the prediction is coming true, and the defense establishment, together with the government, will need to come up with new countermeasures soon.

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