Make them pay

Israel should increase the Jewish presence in Judea and Samaria and make contingency plans for their annexation.

The aftermath of a car ramming by a Palestinian in Jerusalem last December. (photo credit: REUTERS)
The aftermath of a car ramming by a Palestinian in Jerusalem last December.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
WE ARE six months into the current wave of violence and every week brings a toxic ration of stabbings, car rammings and occasionally a shooting. Yet, only a major escalation by the Palestinian side resembling the Oslo war a.k.a. the second intifada (2000-2005), with its exploding buses and bombing of Seder ceremonies, will change the government’s risk-averse policy of containment.
To believe journalist Jeffrey Goldberg of The Atlantic this is one area in which even US President Barack Obama is pleased with us: Israeli society’s resilience under terror.
Such resilience is omnipresent.
In Jerusalem, an eye of the current storm, 25,000 runners participated in the Jerusalem marathon in mid-March. In Hebron and Gush Etzion, which have taken a disproportionate number of casualties, the demand for Jewish housing remains brisk and unsatisfied.
Jewish life in Israel is not under lockdown. Arabs are fleeing the region, desperately trying to make it into Europe. Jews, in contrast, are headed from Europe to Israel. Israel is four notches ahead of the US on the happiness index.
Still, we cannot allow an intolerable situation to become tolerable.
Given the external threats, IDF soldiers should not be diverted from advanced training to the Sisyphean task of anticipating and neutralizing the next knife-wielder. Similarly, this resilience cannot begin to console a bereaved family; it cannot restore the cruelly aborted creativity of Dafna Meir, Naama and Eitam Henkin, and others tragically cut down.
What would I do that the Netanyahu government is not doing? On the defensive side of the ball, I would improve the way the country treats its licensed gun owners. By all means continue to vet gun license applicants to weed out the irresponsible and the irrational. But make the process quicker and more inclusive. Applicants should not have to prove that they live in a dangerous area or have a security relevant occupation to qualify. Israelis out of uniform must be part of a nation-in-arms. Most importantly the government should subsidize the proficiency of gun owners in the younger age brackets (this excludes me).
I recently went through my expensive and time-consuming license renewal process.
After we fired our 50 rounds, the firing range instructor harped on the need for repeated practice.
But the cost can be prohibitive. I did not choose gun ownership as a hobby, but as a necessity.
A government that exhorts gun owners to carry weapons during the emergency, so that knife attackers are not parried as they have been with guitars and selfie-poles, should subsidize weapons training for gun owners.
The real problem, however, is on the offensive side of the ball. For now, the other side knows that Israel will not make a game-changing move. On a philosophical and practical level it is easy to agree with Deputy Chief of Staff Yair Golan’s statement “I hate wars.”
But generals are the last people who should be signaling they might be averse to using force on a large scale.
Both the Palestinian Authority in Ramallah and the Hamas in Gaza know they can continue to dig tunnels, and name plazas and athletic competitions after the knife murderers, and still enjoy immunity.
They can even count on goodwill gestures during this period.
Israeli lives can be jeopardized, but Palestinian life must not be discomfited. We have become so wedded to the devils we know that we cannot imagine a life without a PA or even Hamas. As a result, Israel operates without a Plan B; worse cabinet debates on a Plan B are stifled.
A stock exculpation for Arab terror claims that “they have nothing to lose.” This statement is correct, but not in the way terror apologists intended it. Arab terror, like Arab wars, is launched in the firm belief that the worst scenario is an eventual return to a status quo ante. Even the discredited two-state solution will always be there for the taking as a prelude to a one-state solution free of Jews.
Israel should disabuse such thinking by increasing the Jewish presence in Judea and Samaria, and making contingency plans for their annexation. 
Contributor Amiel Ungar is also a columnist for the Hebrew weekly Besheva