IDF raid in Hebron.
(photo credit: screenshot)
The sheer barbarism of the murders has left the nation reeling. On Thursday morning, Hallel Yaffa Ariel, 13, was stabbed to death in her bedroom in Kiryat Arba. The killer, Muhammad Tarayrah, was motivated by a nihilistic strain of Islam. Before he set out to murder, he made his views clear: he posted on Facebook expressing his wish to die in the name of his hateful creed.
He got his wish. In the process he robbed an innocent young girl of the opportunity to live her life.
The terrorist’s mother told a Hebron news channel that her son was “a hero” who made her “proud” since he died “defending Jerusalem and the Aksa Mosque,” according Palestinian Media Watch.
Then on Friday, more adherents to a barbaric Islamist ideology opened fire on Rabbi Michael “Miki” Mark, 48, of Otniel while he was driving just 15 kilometers from the Ariel family’s home. Mark was shot dead in front of two of his 10 children in the drive-by attack. His wife, Chava, 40, was seriously wounded, their 13-year-old daughter Tehila was moderately-to-seriously wounded and their 15-yearold son Pedaya was lightly wounded.
In response to the escalation in Islamist terrorist violence, which corresponds with the latter part of Ramadan, our political leaders have been outdoing one another in their strident calls to halt the bloodshed.
Transportation Minister Israel Katz called to declare a national state of emergency. “We must understand that we are in a state of all-out war and act accordingly,” he said. “We must declare a state of emergency.”
Education Minister Naftali Bennett presented a wide-ranging plan that includes imprisonment or expulsion of terrorists’ families; the arrest of Hamas operatives in the West Bank, the destruction of illegally built homes in the West Bank; closure of villages from which terrorists have emerged; preventing of Palestinian vehicles from using Route 60; disabling the Internet in the Hebron area; and resumption of full military activity in the West Bank, including in areas under the control of the Palestinian Authority.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu held security assessments with Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman, IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Gadi Eisenkot and Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) director Nadav Argaman.
But now is not the time for talk, for lofty statements, for threats. Israelis do not want to see politicians thump their chests and issue declarations.
It is time to act.
It is no secret that the Hebron area is a hotbed of terrorism.
Hebron has become the “terrorist capital” of the West Bank. According to data the Shin Bet provided at the beginning of the year, more than a third of the terrorist attacks carried out up to 2016 originated in the Hebron area. The most severe attacks came from the area.
Marwan Kawasmeh, 29, and Amar Abu Isa, 32, the despicable Islamist murderers of teenagers Naftali Fraenkel, Gil- Ad Shaer and Eyal Yifrah in June 2014, came from Hebron.
The 16-year-old Palestinian who stabbed to death Dafna Meir in Otniel as she valiantly prevented him from entering her home to murder her daughter was from Beit Amra, also in the Hebron area. The terrorists in the Sarona shooting belong to the Mahamra clan, one of the biggest families in Yatta, another town in the Hebron area.
The IDF has already taken unprecedented steps in Hebron, which is home to some 700,000 Palestinians, instituting a closure throughout the weekend to conduct a mass search for the terrorist cell that murdered Mark.
This is the first time since the kidnapping and murder of the three teenagers two years ago that such a measure has been taken. The IDF has also raised the number of troop being deployed the area and placed more severe restrictions on movement.
But more needs to be done. Our leadership has allowed Hebron’s terrorist cancer to fester for too long. Efforts must be focused on fighting this plague while avoiding getting dragged into a prolonged military conflagration in either the West Bank or the Gaza Strip.
Israel, like Turkey, the EU, America and other countries around the world is fighting a long war with a distorted and toxic form of Islam. The Hebron hotbed is part of a much broader phenomenon that shows no sign of disappearing any time soon. However, it can and must be contained and gradually overcome, not through declarations but through a decisive and prolonged battle.