It’s human nature. When we see the images and read the stories of a Palestinian terrorist destroying innocent lives on Friday night during a lethal shooting rampage in Jerusalem’s Neveh Ya’acov neighborhood, we want to lash out and demand action, punishment and even revenge.
Former IDF National Security Council chief Maj.-Gen. (ret.) Yaakov Amidror, in an interview with KAN News on Sunday morning, explained that it’s also human nature when a big problem arises, people immediately must find a solution. In the case of eliminating terror, Amidror said, the word “solution” should be eliminated from our lexicon, because there is none.
Be that as it may, the violent outburst over Shabbat, including the shocking Saturday morning shooting outside the City of David by a 13-year-old Arab boy, has prompted the government to frantically look for deterrents, punishments and measures that will cause potential Palestinian terrorists to think twice before carrying out the next atrocity.
The measures taken after the terror attacks
Among the measures, the security cabinet raised on Saturday night that it plans to implement are legislation on revoking the residency and citizenship of terrorists and removing them to the territory of the Palestinian Authority; the immediate dismissal of workers who have supported terrorism without need for a hearing; stripping national insurance benefits from family members of terrorists; and expediting gun licenses to thousands of Israeli citizens, including to medical emergency teams who are often among the first responders to a terrorist attack.
The cabinet also ordered the immediate sealing of the family home of the terrorists involved in the Neveh Ya’acov attack and in the City of David. In addition, some of the more right-wing members of the cabinet called for the immediate legalization of West Bank outposts.
The Jerusalem Post has in the past stated that building new settlements or authorizing illegal outposts are not the appropriate answers to terrorism, because they transmit the idea that settlements are punishments; a wrong message to send to the world.
As far as the other measures, while some have merit, it appears to be mostly a case of the government feeling the need to come up with some kind of “solution” without thinking through the effectiveness, deterrence factor, or legal and international implications.
Regarding the immediate sealing of the homes of terrorists and their families, Yonah Jeremy Bob reported in Monday’s Post that a 2005 committee of top Israeli defense experts found that house demolitions, rather than deterring future terrorism, generally inflamed hatred and increased motivation for future attacks by Palestinians against Israel. Home demolitions were taken off the table and restored during the 2015-2016 “Knife Intifada,” with the overwhelming majority of officials finding that the demolitions were having a deterrent effect.
There is no consensus on the issue, so speeding up the sealings – as National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir is demanding – or expanding the sealing of homes of family members, or terrorists who have not murdered raises a big question regarding the effectiveness, or the reverse effect of fanning more flames of hate.
Ben-Gvir’s call to ease the process for Israeli citizens to obtain firearms licenses could indeed prevent terrorist attacks from unfolding. Unlike the US and Europe, the number of incidents of citizens using their guns in mass shootings is virtually unheard of in Israel. And enabling people who have served in the IDF and know their way around a gun could be helpful.
If one of the bystanders inside or near the Neveh Ya’acov synagogue where Friday night’s attack took place had been armed, it could have prevented many of the casualties.
However, there is already a long waiting list for gun licenses, so along with any new directives, this measure would have to include bureaucratic changes to streamline the process. In addition, it would increase the chances of a lethal weapon ending up in the wrong hands, as Hagit Pe’er, chairperson of the women’s rights organization Na’amat, warned on Monday.
Pe’er called for all decisions to be made after thorough research. That’s the takeaway from the weekend of terrorism and the resulting cabinet declarations. It’s human nature to demand an immediate response, but it’s prudent to think things through and act wisely. We’re not going anywhere. Unfortunately, neither is terror.