The Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) and Israel Police are failing to stop “price tag” attacks because they’re facing off against a population that is almost impossible to infiltrate, a Shin Bet source said Thursday.
The “Hilltop Youth” and other right-wing extremists are the hardest people to recruit as informants, said the source, a career Shin Bet field officer who worked in the Palestinian territories throughout the first and second intifadas.
“They have a fundamentalist mind-set, and they’re very devoted and confident, and the potential to recruit them as informers is close to zero,” he said.
He added that Jewish extremists in the West Bank settlements, typically believed to be the driving force behind the “price tag” attacks, were harder to recruit as informants than members of Hamas or Islamic Jihad were.
“It’s not a matter of manpower – the Shin Bet has the manpower in the field. And it’s not about desire. Do you really think we could stop these, [but] we just don’t want to?” he asked.
The officer said that while the Shin Bet branch that investigated Jewish extremists was now much larger than it had been during the Oslo years, the adversary it faced was much more daunting. He described today’s Hilltop Youth and their co-conspirators as more confident than their predecessors, with an extremism stoked in part by the 2005 Gaza withdrawal.
They also know how to cover their tracks and won’t crack under questioning, he added.
The officer addressed the statements that former Shin Bet chief Carmi Gillon made this week. Gillon – who headed the agency during the Oslo years and leading up to the Rabin assassination – said that Israel didn’t intend to stop “price tag” attacks and that if it wanted to, the Shin Bet could stop them.
“I was very surprised by what he said; he knows better than that,” said the officer.
“His statements, what he said, were fitting for someone who doesn’t know what he’s talking about, who’s no longer in the service and doesn’t know what’s happening in the field.”