Monday, March 19, 2018

Violence Increasing In Israel, More Planned

After a deadly weekend, is the latest wave of violence yet to peak?

As the waves of violence in the West Bank and Jerusalem ebb and flow, in just two days a stabbing in Jerusalem’s Old City and a vehicular ramming attack in the northern West Bank claimed the lives of three Israelis, including two soldiers.

Adiel Colman was stabbed to death
 Sunday in Jerusalem’s Old City by 28-year-old Abd al-Rahman Bani Fadel from the West Bank. According to Israel’s Shin Bet security agency, Fadel had received a permit to look for work and had spoken to several vendors in the Muslim Quarter before carrying out the attack. Fadel was shot and killed on the spot.

On Saturday in the northern West Bank, brigade commander Cpt. Ziv Daus, 21, and 20-year-old Sgt. Netanel Kahalani were killed when Ala Kabach rammed his car into them. The Shin Bet said that Kabach had been released from Israeli prison last April after serving time on security-related charges. Kabach was caught by troops and admitted under interrogation that he carried out the attack for nationalistic purposes.

Both Fadel and Kabach are believed to have acted alone, two more so-called “lone-wolf terrorists” in what has been called the “Knife Intifada.” In the wave of violence that began in October 2015, Palestinian youths have stabbed, run over and shot Israeli soldiers and civilians, including some tourists, in the West Bank and Israel.

Even with Israeli security forces, including the Shin Bet, the IDF and the police increasing their efforts to prevent such lone attacks, 17 Israelis were killed in 2016, another 20 in 2017.

In the first three months of 2018, five Israelis have been killed.

Data released by the Shin Bet showed an uptick in attacks in the month of February, with 149 attacks, compared to 118 to the previous month. There were 118 in the West Bank alone, another 20 in Jerusalem. 

By comparison, in the month of December 2017, the agency recorded 249 attacks, 234 of which were carried out in Jerusalem and the West Bank.  In November there were 84 total attacks, only one did not occur in the West Bank or Jerusalem.

During these riots, Palestinians have also planted several improvised explosive devices on the border fence. In mid-February, one was hidden inside a flag pole on the fence that detonated, seriously injuring four IDF soldiers.

Following that incident, IDF Spokesman Brig.-Gen. Ronen Manelis warned, “These spontaneous demonstrations are also used for terrorist activity, and these events will be met with an uncompromising response.”

On March 30, Palestinians will mark Land Day and Israel’s security establishment is bracing for thousands to riot across the West Bank and Gaza Strip, demanding that Palestinians be allowed to return “home” to Israel.

Groups have also called on Gazans to erect a tent city as close as possible to the border fence and remain there until “Nakba Day” on May 15 as a form of peaceful resistance.

This will pose a dilemma for Israel: With an uptick of violence in the West Bank and facing the new trend of IEDs being placed on the fence during the protests, will Palestinians in their tents receive the “uncompromising response” Manelis warned about?

Adiel Coleman, 32, father of four, was the third Israeli to be murdered by a Palestinian terrorist in three days. He was stabbed to death in Jerusalem on Sunday, March 18, by a Palestinian from a village near Nablus, who was shot dead by a policeman.  On Friday, another Palestinian terrorist from Barta’a, drove his vehicle at high speed to run down a group of Israeli soldiers outside Mevo Dotan, killing Capt.  Ziv DAos, 21, and Sgt. Nathanel Kahlani, and seriously injuring two others.

On Saturday, the fourth explosion in a month was planted on the Gaza Strip border fence. The devices were intended to blow up against a passing Israeli military patrol, but exploded prematurely this time and hurt no one. The IDF hit back by disabling two Hamas terror tunnels before they could be activated.

All these actions taken together help the Palestinian Authority in Ramallah and Hamas in Gaza in their efforts to precipitate a critical upsurge of violence ahead of major confrontations, timed for the sensitive national events and anniversaries falling between now and mid-May.

After the Jewish Passover festival and Christian Easter – when hundreds of thousands of Israelis and visitors converge on Jerusalem – Israeli Arabs joined by Palestinians, mark “Land Day” on March 30. Then, on May 15, Israel celebrates its 70th anniversary of independent statehood – an annual event called Naqba by the Palestinians and often marred by violent anti-Israel protest. This year, Jerusalem Day will be a special celebration since President Donald Trump recognized the city as Israel’s capital.
In the Gaza Strip preparations are afoot for Palestinians to hurl themselves en masse on the border fence in an event dubbed “The Great March for Return.” All the Palestinian organizations have come together to set up a “National Committee” which has hired professional PR teams to promote wide coverage in the Palestinian and international arenas. They are looking forward to the Great March sparking similar events in Judea and Samaria, across the borders in Syria, Jordan and Lebanon and among Israeli Arabs too.

The march is programed to unfold over six weeks from March 30 – “Land Day” – to “Naqba Day” in mid-May. The climax is to be on May 14, when the US embassy is scheduled to open in Jerusalem after being transferred from Tel Aviv, and this is intended to touch off widespread demonstrations spilling into wild violence in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem.

Israel’s security and law enforcement authorities are aware that the Palestinians organizing these “protests” see them as the accompaniment of a major surge of terrorist operations. They are fully mobilized for counteraction and prevention.

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