Stop tolerating deaths by terrorists

August 14, 2019 23:42
3 minute read.
IDF fighters map out the homes of the suspected killers of Dvir Sorek.

IDF fighters map out the homes of the suspected killers of Dvir Sorek, checking if demolition is an option.. (photo credit: IDF SPOKESPERSON'S UNIT)

In the past year, the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) thwarted more than 600 terrorist attacks against Israeli civilians. At the same time, four Israelis were murdered this year in attacks that were not stopped.

Some say that four civilian deaths in eight months is not so bad. While we are saddened and heartbroken by the deaths, the temperature of tolerability still exists. The temperature hasn’t risen enough that our government feels a forceful response is needed or that something “needs to give.”

Tolerating a few terrorist attacks each year is the outcome of a much broader policy or outlook that our political and military leaders have adopted. The policy is a mix of hyper-morality, fear of the international community and inferiority. Israeli deaths due to terrorist attacks are something that is tolerable.

Aspects of the IDF ethics code are a hyper-moral abomination that indoctrinates soldiers to believe that enemy civilian lives exceed the worth of an Israeli soldier’s life. Thus, when planning an operation; we let the Palestinians know where the IDF will be attacking; we equivocate property damage of the enemy with the lives of our soldiers; and we force our soldiers to fight in various urban settings which place them in grave danger for the sole reason of avoiding Palestinian civilian casualties, while we bury our nation’s finest.

This devaluing of Jewish lives also manifests itself when we allow Sderot to be attacked by rockets on a regular basis over the course of 12 years, with minimal response. Because as long as it’s “only a few rockets here and there,” not too many deaths, only trauma issues and damage to physical structures, it’s all tolerable and the needle on the thermometer of tolerability has not moved enough to generate a response.

Though a more severe response would certainly be welcome, what is really necessary is a change in policy, a new approach – a paradigm shift. Instead of fighting our enemies with themes like “sending them a message,” “quiet will be met with quiet,” “they killed one Jew, we destroy one house,” “they fired two rockets so we fire four,” our government should begin to fight against our enemies to win.

THE GOAL of Israel against its enemies should be maximum deterrence, and if that fails and war is necessary, then entering a war with only one goal: total victory with the complete destruction of the soul of the enemy and its desire to fight us again. This isn’t only relevant vis-à-vis the Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza, rather it should be relevant to all our enemies.

For far too long our wars and military operations have put civilians in harm’s way for the sake of sending a message, hitting them hard and postponing the next major military operation for another two years. Consider how weak our deterrence against the Palestinians is today: A teenage Israeli was kidnapped and stabbed to death outside his home by Palestinians who drove around hunting for an easy target. They did not worry about being questioned about what they were doing in an Israeli area, unconcerned about what might happen to them after the attack, about what might happen to their family, nothing. They came from a culture where there are no worries as to the penalty of attacking a Jew, so much so that they didn’t even hide in the dark, didn’t shoot with a rifle from a distance, but simply drove around in a heavily populated Jewish area and just waited for the right moment.

Sure, our government has made the necessary preparations so that if we are attacked the Jewish State won’t be destroyed, but what about the single Israeli life? What about the few Israeli lives here and there? Do they fall by the wayside in the face of negative international press, frowns from Europe, or an inferiority complex?

We are living in a period of unprecedented support from the US, the world’s most powerful country. There can no longer be any excuses for our government not shifting its policy and outlook toward enemy countries and terrorists. Just as the Israeli government would never tolerate a nonchalant, less-than-maximum deterrence approach by other governments to Jewish communities within their borders, citizens of Israel should expect the same from our government here in Israel.

The writer is the president of the Jerusalem Washington Center.

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