How to prevent the next terror attack In Israel
Ron Ben-Yishai/Ynetnews /Published: 11.19.14/Israel Opinion
Analysis: It’s not easy to deter terrorists like those who carried out the deadly attack at Kehilat Yaakov synagogue, so Israel must act to contain the threat by all means available to its defense establishment. The Jerusalem synagogue massacre was meticulously planned in advance. The terrorists deliberately selected a distinctly religious target. Their timing, too, was designed to yield a particularly murderous effect – morning prayers, during which the synagogue building was full of people.
And there was nothing random about their choice of weapons either; they could have perpetrated the murders with the handgun in their possession, but they also brought along butcher’s knives, with the intention of adding a ritualistic-Islamic component to the attack, and probably in an effort to mimic the killings that are being carried out by Islamic State in Syria and Iraq.
The bottom line here is that this was a terror attack sparked by religious-Islamic motives and the result of incitement on two planes – regional incitement inspired by the videos released by IS and its affiliate organizations; and Palestinian and Arab incitement revolving around claims about Israeli efforts to harm the Temple Mount mosques and take control of the entire site.
The second plane is shared by Mahmoud Abbas, Jordan’s King Abdullah and Sheikh Raed Salah, the leader of the northern branch of the Islamic Movement in Israel. Hamas, too, plays a significant role in the incitement. The organization is currently in dire straits because the Egyptians are dictating the pace of the Gaza Strip’s rehabilitation in the wake of Operation Protective Edge. Hamas can’t afford to fire from Gaza at this point in time, and hence the incitement to carry out terror attacks in in Jerusalem. The possibility that Hamas was directly involved in the attack – its preparation and timing – must also be thoroughly investigated.
Hamas claims the attack was revenge for the murder of the Palestinian bus driver in Jerusalem. The pathology examination – with the participation of a Palestinian doctor – proved it was a suicide; but the Palestinian Authority’s media outlets and Palestinian social network sites continued to claim the man was murdered by Jews, and Abbas didn’t take the trouble to correct the impression.
The massacre, thus, was religiously sanctioned by Islamic and Palestinian elements, but it could not have been thwarted in advance because no specific terror group was directly involved. Terror attacks of this kind are very difficult to prevent ahead of time, and it is hard, too, to deter them because the perpetrators knew – and that’s how the attack was planned – that they wouldn’t walk away from it alive.
It’s hard to deter an individual who has decided to become a martyr, and the security establishment must therefore work to prevent and contain such attacks with all the means at its disposal. Most of the measures are already in place; but the moment a sense of calm appears to settle over the area, these measures seem to be less stringently enforced. Even when things are quiet on the Temple Mount, we can’t lose sight of the fact that the popular uprising, the intifada, is still here, under the surface, just waiting for a pretext or a hook on which to hang yet another massacre.
The measures that should be adopted:
• The widespread deployment of police patrols and checkpoints throughout Jerusalem and the Arab neighborhoods prone to violence (Jabel Mukaber, Silwan, Isawiya and others)
• The mobilization of large police and Border Police forces, and Israel Defense Forces soldiers too if necessary, who will occasionally conduct patrols as a show of presence; these forces must be equipped not only with riot-control means but also precise instructions aimed at preventing the use of live gunfire and unnecessary fatalities; every corpse brings another in its wake
• Preventive detention of agitators; the Shin Bet security service is familiar with them and the imams who fire up the passions; the arrests will help calm the mood
Over and above the offensive measures, the defensive measures are even more important – and the deployment of security guards at public institutions first and foremost. Public vigilance is important; keeping one’s eyes open and alerting readily available security forces proved very effective in the first two intifadas. There’s a need, too, to prevent the events in Jerusalem from spilling over into other areas within the Green Line, the Arab Israeli communities and Judea and Samaria. It is equally important to prevent reprisals by Jews.
Concrete barriers too.
The demolition of the homes of terrorists is thought to serve as a deterrent. The matter remains up for debate. But one thing’s for sure, demolitions at this point in time will only serve to spur the passions – and it would be best to refrain from such actions at least for now.
The option can be considered at a later date, taking into account of course that Israel doesn’t demolish the homes of Jewish terrorists. This fact turns the deterrence into a form of unjust and unequal punishment for the families of the terrorists that incites the mood on the streets instead of preventing terror attacks.
The main thing is to change the mindset. The intifada in which we are currently embroiled may differ in nature from the previous popular uprisings, but it’s here and it exists and we need to adapt the measures to the new characteristics – the difficulty involved in thwarting attacks ahead of time, and the difficulty involved in deterring attacks due to the religious motive and incitement.
The measures taken to halt the current wave of terror must be a combination of offensive operations, a stern call on Palestinian and Arab elements to cease the incitement, and vigorous defensive action that also includes concrete barriers.