Fragile coexistence

Part of the problem is the culture of martyrdom fostered by the Palestinian Authority as much as by Islamist organizations.

October 8, 2018 22:34
3 minute read.

EFRAT AT sunset. ‘The positions expressed by those who spoke at the ceremony in Gush Etzion were way out of any national consensus.. (photo credit: REUTERS)

The terrorist who carried out the attack in the Barkan Industrial Park in the Samaria region of the West Bank on Sunday took the lives of two Israelis – Ziv Hajbi, a 35-year-old father of three, and Kim Levengrond-Yehezkel, a 28-year-old mother of a toddler – and wounded another Jewish Israeli woman.

The attacker has been identified as Ashraf Walid Suleiman Na’alwa, 23, from the village of Shuweika near the West Bank Palestinian city of Tulkarm.

Many noted that the attack, apart from the heartbreaking fatalities, claimed other victims, the main one being the coexistence for which the industrial park near the city of Ariel is known. This was the first attack carried out in Barkan Industrial Park since it was established in 1982.

The industrial zone houses 164 factories and provides work to some 7,200 people, including 4,200 Palestinians, according to the Samaria Regional Council. The factory where Na’alwa had worked for three months and where he carried out the attack, reportedly employs 250 Palestinians.

As The Jerusalem Post’s Tovah Lazaroff noted: “Set on a hilltop, the Barkan Industrial Park is one of the jewels of the Samaria region and a symbol for its residents of the economic peace they hope to have with the Palestinians.”

Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein, among others, likened the attack to the murder of Ari Fuld last month outside a shopping mall at the Gush Etzion junction, another symbol of coexistence. Some people were reminded of the terrorist attack in 2017 at Har Adar, just outside Jerusalem, where four Israelis (including an Israeli Arab security guard) were killed by a Palestinian man who was well known to local residents and had worked in the community for years.

The attack on the one hand shows the fragility of coexistence. On the other, it demonstrates that such coexistence exists and is possible. Thousands of Palestinians have permits to work at similar industrial parks within Israel. Every terrorist attack like this one raises the question about their entrance and certainly causes Israeli individuals and authorities to question whether the number of Palestinians allowed to work in Israel can be raised.

Na’alwa himself was well aware of the security routine at the industrial park and the factory. According to Kan Radio, security guards at the site noted that it is almost impossible to carry out thorough security checks on the thousands of Palestinian workers who pass through the gates every day, even when the metal detectors sound a warning.

Security forces have voiced fear of copycat killers inspired by apparent “lone wolf” Na’alwa.

We are often told that terrorists act out of frustration and poverty. This clearly was not the case this week. On the contrary, Na’alwa’s heinous deed itself endangers the financial well-being of thousands of Palestinians and harms all those who believe that even without a political resolution to the conflict, economic ties can create a modus vivendi to the benefit of all.

Part of the problem is the culture of martyrdom fostered by the Palestinian Authority as much as by Islamist organizations. Na’alwa reportedly told his family he was fed up with work and life. He also had a serious argument with one of his brothers about building a home above his sibling’s apartment. Although Na’alwa escaped, triggering a massive manhunt, it is unlikely he thought he would survive the attack. He probably has no problem becoming a shahid, or martyr, and an instant and eternal hero. Given the PA’s “pay for slay” policy, his family would be ensured of ongoing monetary compensation – encouraging other Palestinians to carry out attacks even if they don’t formally belong to a terrorist organization.

As Edelstein stated, “The appropriate response to the murderous attack in Barkan is to continue to strengthen the joint industrial zones. We shall not allow abominable terrorists to harm coexistence.”

But Palestinian society, too, must take a courageous stand against such attacks that endanger it as much as they harm Israel.

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