Prime Minister Naftali Bennett instructed the defense establishment to use administrative detention and restraining orders in the fight against terror, alongside intensified monitoring of social media and other measures, after two ISIS terrorist attacks hit Israel in the past week.
Police were placed on the highest level of alert across the country on Monday, a day after two ISIS-affiliated terrorists shot and killed Falah and Aboukrat in Hadera. Last week, a Bedouin Israeli stabbed four Israeli civilians to death in Beersheba.
The two Border Police officers were killed and 12 others were wounded when the two terrorists – wearing flak jackets and armed with at least three sidearms, 1,100 bullets and knives – opened fire on them on one of Hadera’s main streets.
The terrorists in the Hadera attack were identified as Arab-Israelis from Umm el-Fahm. Many police raided the city throughout the night. They arrested five suspects from Umm el-Fahm and other locations and seize weapons and ammunition while searching homes. Rings and books connected to ISIS were also seized in the raids.
The terrorists posted a video on Facebook before the attack, showing them swearing allegiance to ISIS. The terrorist movement published a statement on Sunday night, taking responsibility for the attack. The brother of one of the terrorists is an Israeli police officer.
One of the attackers in Hadera had previously spent time in prison for trying to join ISIS in Syria, like the Beersheba attacker who was recently released from prison for supporting the terrorist group.
Speaking at a rally marking the 20th anniversary of Operation Defensive Shield, Defense Minister Benny Gantz warned that “anyone who tries to harm the citizens of Israel, plays a role in fueling the fire and inciting on networks is a target.”
Gantz said that Israel is working to thwart any potential attacker from carrying out terror attacks and threatened that “no one is immune – everyone is in our sights.”
“The 1,100 bullets carried by the terrorists yesterday in Hadera are 1,100 resounding reminders of our constant need to be vigilant,” he said, adding that the actions of the security establishment will “restore the sense of security.”
Following a situational assessment held by Bennett, Gantz, IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Aviv Kohavi, OC Intelligence Directorate Maj.-Gen. Aharon Haliva, OC Operations Directorate Maj.-Gen. Oded Basyuk, OC COGAT Maj.-Gen. Rassan Alian and Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) Director Ronen Bar, it was agreed to deploy reinforcements for security forces.
Speaking at the same ceremony, Kohavi said that the IDF is “currently concentrating” on intelligence collection and has increased the number of troops in order to “prepare for any operation to ensure the security of the State of Israel.”
The police have recommended calling up six reserve companies of Border Police officers instead of the original plan of three for operational activities during Ramadan, when there is usually a rise in violence.
With tensions high ahead of Ramadan, the police are preparing for large-scale rioting should there be further escalations. Another 10 reserve companies are ready to be called up to act as reinforcements should they be needed, the police said.
The Israel Police decided on Monday to place Border Police officers in Umm el-Fahm, where the two terrorists lived, to keep the peace and protect public order, as well as to help with searches and arrests.
Gantz ordered an intensification of interagency intelligence and operative efforts and a heightening of readiness and thwarting operations on all fronts. He decided on Monday to delay his trip to India, which was set to start on Tuesday.
The municipalities of Karmiel, Rishon Lezion, Rehovot and Hadera on Monday said they were intensifying local security efforts amid the uptick in terrorist attacks.
Following the situational assessment, Bennett said this is a “new situation” that requires the defense establishment to adapt to new circumstances in which Arab-Israeli extremists commit terrorist attacks.
“We will not forget their heroism,” he said, expressing his condolences over the deaths of the two Border Police officers and wishing a speedy recovery to the wounded.
“A second attack by ISIS supporters inside Israel requires the security forces to adapt quickly to the new threat, and that is what we will do,” Bennett said, urging citizens to be vigilant. “Together, we will also be able to defeat this enemy.”
He instructed the defense establishment to continue its extensive operations, using legal, economic, intelligence and digital tools in all areas to prevent further incidents and prosecute accomplices, a statement released by his office said.
Bennett also issued orders to reinforce security forces, with an emphasis on points of friction in the country, such as Jerusalem, at least until Independence Day on May 5. Policies allowing soldiers to carry weapons outside of bases will be expanded as well.
He instructed the defense establishment to monitor discourse on social-media networks to identify inciting factors and potential attackers and take action against them.
Following the attack on Sunday night, Kohavi decided to call up four additional battalions to bolster existing forces in the West Bank. The IDF is concerned that the current wave of terrorist attacks within the Green Line will spill over into the West Bank and lead to an escalation with Palestinian terrorist groups.
Last week, four Israelis were killed in a terrorist attack in Beersheba by Bedouin-Israeli Mohammed Abu al-Kiyan, who was shot dead by civilians at the scene.
Kiyan was known to the police and the Shin Bet. He was arrested in 2016 and sentenced to four years in prison for forming a group that planned to travel to Syria and join ISIS. An elementary school teacher, Kiyan was also convicted of teaching content inspired by the jihadist group to children and members of the community during sermons. He recently finished his sentence and had been released.
According to Israel Police spokesman Eli Levy, despite the heightened alert due to the rise in attacks, there was no advance warning of the terrorist attack carried out by Kiyan.
The statement released by ISIS claimed responsibility for both the Hadera and Beersheba attacks.