It was another tough week in Israel, with a wave of violence in which four innocent people were murdered, for no other reason than the fact that they are Jewish.
And amid the heavy cloud of grief that enveloped Israel in the wake of these heart-wrenching attacks, for a small and fringe subset of the population, the very foundations of compassion and understanding seemed to tremble.
Before Israelis could process these ruthless attacks, hundreds of Jewish fundamentalists retaliated in a wave of “revenge” attacks toward Palestinians over the murder of the four innocent Jews.
To understand the whole story, we need to backtrack to last Sunday.
The changing geography of terror
Jenin, which used to represent calmness for Israel’s security forces, has now transformed into a fortified location for extremist factions. Some describe Jenin as the West Bank’s terror capital, with the IDF regularly conducting counterterror operations (especially in the last year) to stop terrorism from reaching outside the city’s borders.
On June 19, the IDF raided Jenin and apprehended two members affiliated with Gaza-based terror groups Hamas and Islamic Jihad.
A prolonged firefight broke out, and Palestinian gunmen ambushed the IDF using improvised explosive devices (IED) and struck the IDF’s armored vehicle. Six Palestinians were killed, and seven Israeli security forces were injured.
Terror groups claimed at least four Palestinian fatalities, meaning these gunmen belong to terror groups like Islamic Jihad and al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades.
The IDF had to use helicopters, drones and reinforcements to extract the Israeli security forces and their military vehicles safely. They even used a helicopter to launch a targeted strike at an open area to facilitate rescue and shield the soldiers from Palestinian gunmen.
This was a massive ordeal, marking the first time in approximately two decades that the IDF had utilized a helicopter to fire a missile in the West Bank. Given how bad the situation in Jenin has become, some analysts began comparing the tactics of militant Palestinian groups to that of Hezbollah in Lebanon. Indeed, since the start of 2023, many IDF operations in Jenin have not gone smoothly, resulting in many injured IDF personnel and Palestinian citizens.
Saleh al-Arouri, deputy head of the Hamas political bureau, praised the attacks in a statement, as did Abu Hamzeh, a spokesman for Jihad’s military wing, al-Quds Brigades. Both groups praised their fighters, claiming that this reflects Zionist weakness in the face of Palestinian resistance.
The next day, on June 20, two Palestinian terrorists entered a restaurant near the West Bank community of Eli, where they opened fire on multiple individuals. They then proceeded to the gas station adjacent to the restaurant and shot another person. At that juncture, an armed Israeli civilian intervened and stopped the attack by fatally shooting one of the terrorists while the other fled the scene. Later on, the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency), the IDF and the Border Police found the second terrorist, who abandoned his car. When he resisted arrest, the Israeli forces neutralized him.
The four victims’ names are Elisha Antman, Harel Masoud, Ofer Feirman and Nachman Shmuel Mordoff. Shortly after this terror attack, a Hamas spokesperson announced that the Palestinian gunmen were affiliated with Hamas’s military faction, the Izzadin al-Qassam Brigades. Hamas made it clear that this was an intentional revenge attack carried out in retaliation for the IDF’s operation in Jenin.
These terrorists murdered innocent Jewish people in such a cruel way. It never gets easy to process these murders, no matter how often they happen, which this year has been a great many.
Despite the horrible pain that these murders bring, what happened next was unjustifiable
The day after the heinous terror attack, about 200 Israelis from settlement communities and members of the hilltop youth group set fires in Turmus Aiya, a West Bank town, targeting Palestinian-owned cars, wheat fields and homes.
The extremists coordinated the “price-tag” attack (revenge attack) right after Nachman Shmuel Mordoff’s funeral.
Israeli media reported that they destroyed about 30 homes and over 60 vehicles.
At the same time, a video circulated on both Israeli and Palestinian social media of masked rioters (believed to be Israelis from settlement communities) entering a mosque in the West Bank village of Urif. The rioters seized a Koran, tore its pages and hurled it onto the street. The same group was seen later burning several classrooms in the local school.
On Saturday, Israelis from settlement communities torched homes and cars in the Palestinian village Umm Safah near Ramallah. And in one of the more severe incidents, they fired guns at the town of Turmus Aiya and set fire to homes and vehicles. Tragically, a Palestinian man lost his life during the chaos while attempting to assist injured Palestinians.
These price-tag attacks, which I have written about in extensive detail in the past, are deplorable and do nothing for the terror victims. Attacking innocent Palestinians and acts of violence will not avenge the death of those murdered. By committing these revenge attacks, these Jewish fundamentalists are tainting the memories of the innocent people who were ruthlessly murdered.
Over the weekend, the heads of the IDF, Shin Bet and Israel Police published a statement condemning these attacks, stating, “These attacks are against every moral and Jewish value and are also nationalist terrorism in every sense, and we are obliged to fight them.”
When we criticize these revenge attacks, some will ask, “But what about the Palestinian terrorists?”
We already know that the terrorists who murder Israelis are monsters and must be stopped and punished to the full extent of the law. Yet these Jewish extremists have no right to take matters into their own hands. They do nothing but instigate violence, harm innocent Palestinians, put our soldiers in danger and divert the IDF from fighting Palestinian terrorism.
Israel cannot let these people think they can get away with fighting terrorism with their sick methods of revenge. They must be held accountable for their violent acts and brought to justice.
The writer is a social media activist with more than 10 years of experience working for Israeli, Jewish causes and cause-based NGOs. She is the co-founder and the COO of Social Lite Creative, a digital marketing firm specializing in geopolitics.