In light of the continuous spate of Palestinian knife attacks on Israelis in the Gush Etzion junction area, the IDF has doubled the number of units securing the area.
Military sources told The Jerusalem Post on Wednesday that the move is part of a wider effort by the Judea and Samaria Division and Central Command to protect civilians from knife terrorism plaguing the Gush Etzion junction very frequently in recent days.
“We are preparing for this wave of terrorism to become prolonged, and we are preparing for the potential of an escalation,” one of the sources said. “We are adjusting the way we activate forces to deal with knife attacks.”
Col. Roman Gofman, commander of the IDF’s Gush Etzion Brigade, issued instructions to step up patrols around a gas station in the area, and at other spots prone to knife attacks.
Concrete blocks have been set up around bus stops and hitchhiking posts, and cameras, which dot the area, help the IDF investigate past incidents and evaluate the security situation.
The Gush junction is an area where Jews and Palestinians frequently interact, making it a terrorism hot spot
in the West Bank.
At the end of August, speaking before the latest eruption of lone wolf terrorism and rioting, Gofman said at a ceremony where he took command that the security reality in Gush Etzion is “continuously changing.”
“The threats and dangers are changing shape and direction,” Gofman said.
Threats are “adapting and rising up again for continued conflict. Our mission is clear: defending Gush Etzion and its residents, defending Jerusalem, preventing terrorism from reaching the home front, and safeguarding law and order and the fabric of life.”
Also Wednesday, a senior IDF official said diplomacy has “weight” as a restraining factor vis-a-vis the ongoing Palestinian violence.
Speaking at a conference on the rehabilitation of the Gaza Strip at Netanya Academic College, Brig.-Gen. Guy Goldstein, deputy coordinator of government activities in the territories, said that Israel “is at the height of a conflict whose end is not on the foreseeable horizon.”
Goldstein, whose COGAT unit is responsible for implementing policy in Judea and Samaria and vis-à-vis the Gaza Strip, rejected allegations that Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas was supporting terrorism, saying he thought Abbas was “trying to calm tensions.”
The current wave of terrorism is “not the type of intifada that we know. It’s a rebellion of individuals and on social networks and of terror that comes from pain and frustration,” Goldstein said.
Goldstein said Israel was seeing more intense friction between Palestinians and settlers.
Turning to Gaza, Goldstein alleged Hamas was taking advantage of COGAT’s efforts to send construction materials to help Gaza rebuild since Operation Protective Edge, to try and rebuild its own terrorist infrastructure.
“Hamas’s goal is to get stronger and build underground tunneling capabilities and high trajectory missiles,” Goldstein said.
He said that Israel was trying to locate the site of these Hamas activities, admitting that these efforts have not been wholly successful.
A spokeswoman for COGAT said later on Wednesday that “during a professional presentation [by Goldstein], the civil steps in the Palestinian arena were presented. He stressed the Gaza reconstruction as a part of civil steps taken by the defense establishment to combat the terror wave.”
The spokeswoman added that the quotes had been taken “out of the general context as presented in the lecture.”
Jerusalem Post staff contributed to this report.