Former Israeli national security advisor: Little can be done to prevent lone attackers

Maj.-Gen. (res.) Yaakov Amidror dismisses calls for house to house searches in Hebron; "What are soldiers supposed to look for - kitchen knives?"

IDF soldiers in the West Bank [File] (photo credit: REUTERS)
IDF soldiers in the West Bank [File]
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Little can be done to prevent lone-wolf Palestinian terrorism, according to former national security adviser to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Maj.-Gen. (res.) Yaakov Amidror, who also warned that impassioned calls for “massive retaliation” would result in no improvements, but rather a possible deterioration of the security situation.
“While there is no doubt that Israel is facing a difficult security situation, the surge in Palestinian violence does not pose any existential threat to Israel,” Amidror wrote in a paper published Sunday by the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies at Bar-Ilan University, where he is a senior fellow,.
“Israel has weathered longer and harsher waves of terrorism,” Amidror said, adding that, “Israeli leaders must keep things in proportion and reject calls for ‘massive retaliation’ that will not truly improve security and could make things worse.”
Calls for a “massive military campaign” and for the IDF to “seize Judea and Samaria” are “nothing but empty words,” Amidror wrote. “There is no need for a massive military campaign, as Operation Defensive Shield in 2002 established the IDF’s control over Judea and Samaria, and Israeli forces are free to operate anywhere in the area,” he added.
“If there is intelligence of a weapons cache in the heart of Nablus, for example, the IDF can deploy troops within a day. The same goes for executing demolition orders on terrorists’ homes. And soldiers pursuing a suspect can chase him wherever they must, even into a Palestinian hospital,” he stated.
Equally, calls for house-to-house weapons searches in Hebron, the home of most of the recent terrorists, are futile, he said.
“What are the soldiers supposed to look for – kitchen knives? Over 90 percent of the attacks were carried out using weapons of opportunity, from screwdrivers to axes. Only a handful of attacks have involved firearms.”
Amidror has served in the IDF for 36 years in senior posts including commander of the National Defense College; military secretary to the defense minister; director of the Intelligence Analysis Division in Military Intelligence; and chief intelligence officer of the Northern Command.
“The IDF is already free to act on any intelligence or suspicion as needed, and the defense establishment clearly thinks that surrounding Hebron is a waste of resources and that it would only aggravate friction with civilians who are, for the most part, innocent,” he wrote in the paper.
“Israel should refrain from imposing harsh and unnecessary measures on the Palestinians, such as revoking work permits from Palestinians across Judea and Samaria. This measure would affect the livelihoods of thousands of families when, so far, it is only one terrorist who abused his work permit to carry out an attack,” he argued.
He continued: “Exercising such measures could result in increasing the number of Palestinians who, feeling they have nothing to lose, might turn to terrorism. Harsh punishments should be imposed wisely if they are to generate deterrence.”
Ultimately, Amidror argued, “The truth should also be voiced clearly. Little can be done to prevent lone terrorists from carrying out their plans, especially when their motives are no longer clear. Many of the attacks recently have been ‘atmosphere attacks,’ resulting from a killing trend fueled by the Palestinian Authority’s incitement.
The PA seems to be the main component in promoting murder as a ‘hobby’ among the Palestinians, but most attacks have not been directed by a known terrorist group.”
Panic-driven rhetoric suggesting these attacks pose an “existential threat” to Israel are divorced from reality, serving merely to promote hysteria, he added.
“No one can dispute that recent weeks have been stressful for the Israeli public, especially in Judea and Samaria where residents come in greater daily contact with their Palestinian neighbors, which in some cases makes it easier for terrorists to carry out their vile plans. But the situation is far from posing an ‘existential threat.’” Amidror also urged caution regarding calls to pass legislation targeting Israeli Arabs or measures that would infringe on their rights, saying, “Such measures will do more harm than good, especially in the long run.”
Of the 1.7 million Arab-Israeli citizens, barely a handful have taken part in recent violent events, Amidror said.
“Some may sympathize with the terrorists, and some may subscribe to the incitement spread by the Islamic Movement’s Northern Branch, but Israeli Arabs have not taken part in the murder of Israelis. We must examine what can be done to build up this positive trend of restraint by Israeli Arabs,” he concluded.