IDF soldiers searching the area after West Bank stabbing attack.
(photo credit: HILEL MEIR)
As the threat of war grows on both Israel’s northern and southern fronts, the first month of 2018 was a deadly, riot-filled one in the country’s third front of Jerusalem and the West Bank.
In January, the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) recorded 113 terrorist attacks in the West Bank and Jerusalem, down from 178 in December but still a rise from the 84 incidents in November.
Meanwhile, Palestinians reported 497 attacks on Israeli troops and settlers in the West Bank and Jerusalem area in January, including 156 incidents of stone throwing, 50 Molotov cocktails, nine explosive devices thrown, one vehicular ramming attack and five shooting attacks. A total of 242 Palestinians were reported injured and another seven were killed, according to the sources.
On the Israeli side, some 28 persons were wounded last month, and one – Rabbi Raziel Shevach – was killed, in a drive-by shooting near the Havat Gilad outpost. Another Israeli, Rabbi Itamar Ben-Gal, was stabbed to death in February by Israeli-Arab Abed al-Karim Assi, who has, as of the time of writing, evaded capture.
Data released by the IDF in January showed that 20 Israelis were killed and 169 wounded in 99 terrorist attacks originating in the West Bank in 2017, up from 17 killed and 263 wounded in 269 attacks in 2016.
Speaking on a conference call organized by the Israel Project, former national security adviser and Maj.- Gen. Yaakov Amidror said that while “statistically it’s not a wave yet,” Israel must do everything it can to stop those who want to carry out attacks.
“There is no silver bullet, but we must stop them,” he said, adding that Israel “must arrest them before they succeed in carrying out an attack.”
The lone-wolf terrorist has emerged as the face of the “knife intifada” that began in October 2015, where Palestinian youths have stabbed, run over and shot Israeli soldiers and civilians, as well as some foreign tourists, in a wave of violence in the West Bank and Israel.
In late December, Shin Bet chief Nadav Argaman said that the agency prevented some 1,100 potential lonewolf attacks in 2017, a major increase from the 400 thwarted in 2016.
Amidror stressed that the murder of Shevach was not carried out by a lone-wolf attacker, but by an organized cell belonging to Hamas.
“It’s very hard to stop the lone-wolf phenomenon, but the war against Hamas cells is another story,” he said.
While the violence has decreased since its peak in the winter of 2016, when there were almost daily attacks, the recent increased violence in the West Bank and the Jerusalem area has led many to fear a new wave of violence targeting Israelis.
The fear is compounded by the calls for another intifada by Palestinian groups, including Hamas and Fatah, following the recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital by US President Donald Trump on December 6.
“This will not stop until the liberation of Jerusalem and the West Bank,” Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh said.
The Second Intifada, which lasted from September 2000 to mid-2005, saw close to 1,000 Israelis killed and thousands more wounded as hundreds of Palestinian terrorists staged attacks across the country.
But according to former Shin Bet and Israel Navy head V.-Adm. (res.) Ami Ayalon, the Palestinians do not want a repeat of the Second Intifada, in which thousands of Palestinians were killed or injured.
“The Second Intifada was a catastrophe for the Palestinians, and the generation which lived through it remembers that,” he said in a recent interview with The Jerusalem Post.
But, he warned, terrorist attacks will continue unless the situation on the ground changes.
“As long as Palestinians have no hope and nothing to lose, we will not see an end to terror attacks,” he said.