The Jerusalem Institute for Strategy and Security

The fitting Israeli response is to demonstrate resilience, and to declare that despite the terror and the pain we will remain in the land of our forefathers.

It is a shame that many of the responses to the recent terror attacks in Ofra and Givat Assaf spoke of an “escalation” in terror against Israel, and “abandonment” of the residents in Judea and Samaria. Two terror attacks involving three fatalities, despite the anguish they cause, do not constitute an escalation. Possibly, these terrorist attacks are the start of a new phase in the murderous activity of the Palestinians, but for now there is no reason to view these sad events as a significant change for the worse. There is nothing to indicate a significant deterioration in the security situation in Judea and Samaria, at present.

The hysterical responses also ignore the success of the security forces in locating the terrorist from the Barkan attack and a member of the cell that operated in Ofra and eliminating them. Counter-terrorism and the bringing of terrorists to justice after an attack involves painstaking work, professionalism and perseverance. The security forces deserve our praise even they are unable to completely halt terrorist attacks. It is impossible to prevent every act of terror, just as it is impossible to prevent every crime in the civilian sector.

Note: There have been only ten deaths due to terrorist attacks in 2018. This is small number in view of the large-scale efforts by the Palestinians to kill Israelis. The continual incitement from the Palestinian Authority in the education system and in the media against Jews reinforces the hatred of Jews and the motivation to use violence against them. The low number of fatalities is to be attributed to the intensive and systematic efforts of the General Security Service (GSS) and the IDF, to uncover hundreds of terrorist cells in a timely manner.

There is no justification for statements that the State has “abandoned” settlers in Judea and Samaria. Such statements ignore the huge amount of resources invested by the state in protecting the residents of Israel wherever they live. Jews that have decided to live in Judea and Samaria need to know that they live in an area that is more dangerous than areas inside the Green Line. It is certainly legitimate to request actions designed to further improve security, but the demand for the same level of security as in Tel Aviv is simply not realistic.

Neither is there any justification for shutting down the services of the local authority in Judea and Samaria in order to make impossible demands of the government. No government can provide 100% security – not in Tel Aviv and certainly not in the Binyamin region. The role of the local authorities is to serve residents; not to make things more difficult for them by withholding services.

Making demands of the government that are not justified and are not directly related to the security of the residents immediately following a terrorist attack should be avoided. Using the blood of those killed in order to “launder” buildings or for the purpose of new construction is bad taste, even if it is politically expedient. This kind of behavior also blurs the line between security needs, which generally enjoy broad legitimacy, and political demands that are often the subject of dispute.

It is worth remembering that hysterical responses serve our enemies, who are happy to hear the panic and criticism in the Israeli media. The hysterical voices strengthen the “spider-web” characterization of Israel as a weak society that can be undermined by terror.

The fitting Israeli response is to demonstrate resilience, and to declare emphatically that despite the terror and the pain we will remain in the land of our forefathers. Unfortunately, the Talmudic aphorism that “the Land of Israel is acquired through hardship” was and remains true.

JISS Policy Papers are published through the generosity of the Greg Rosshandler Family.

photo: Israel Police [CC BY-SA 3.0]