Analysis: How to tame the lone-wolf attacker

Out of six deadly terrorist attacks carried out by Palestinian lone attackers this month, three involved perpetrators that came from the West Bank.

November 12, 2014 08:30
1 minute read.
Terror attack in Jerusalem

Scene of terror attack in Jerusalem, Nov 5.. (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)


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It took some time, but eventually Palestinian violence rippled out of Jerusalem into the West Bank.

Until this week, terrorist incidents and the upsurge of rioting were largely limited to Jerusalem, yet, just as they spread west of the capital to Arab-Israeli towns, so, too, have they spread to Judea and Samaria.

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Out of six deadly terrorist attacks carried out by Palestinian lone attackers this month, three involved perpetrators that came from the West Bank or attacks that occurred there. Incidents of firebombs and rock-throwing have surged in the area in recent days.

This has prompted the IDF’s Central Command to initiate a sequence of steps aimed at freezing the escalation and preventing the flames of violence from growing into a large-scale blaze – the intifada so often referred to by many.

These steps include the mobilization of a number of back-up battalions to the sector, an increase in arrests of security suspects affiliated with terrorist organizations and suspected rioters, and an attempt to boost visibility, in order to deter potential attackers.

But the truth is that no one in the defense establishment knows whether these steps will be effective.

Unlike organized terrorist attacks, which leave behind an intelligence trail that allows the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) to frequently monitor and disband Hamas and Islamic Jihad cells in the West Bank, the lone attacker gives no prior warning before acting.

There is no way to eavesdrop on the signal sent from the attacker’s indoctrinated, hate-filled mind to his knife-clutching hand.

As a result, boosting visibility and trying to get lone attackers to think twice after seeing large numbers of soldiers on the ground represents the IDF’s main effort to prevent a further escalation at this stage.

If that effort fails, more drastic steps may be taken.

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