It’s Terrorism, But Not an Intifada

My colleague Pesach Benson has written why he believes we should acknowledge that the current Palestinian violence should be properly labeled an “Intifada.” He writes that the excessive number of Palestinian attacks on Jews when coupled with non-stop incitement from the Palestinian Authority and Hamas point in only one direction — that of a wide-spread and long-term battle throughout the country. He may very well be right, but for the moment I’m not going that far and here’s why:

During the Second Intifada, more than 1,000 Israelis were killed in terrorist attacks that included suicide bombers blowing up buses, restaurants, and hotel lobbies. The attacks were sophisticated in their planning and execution. Many aspects of daily life in Jerusalem ground to a halt. Evidence clearly shows that the entire campaign was financed and orchestrated by Yasser Arafat, the head of the Palestinian Authority.

The current violence started with two horrendous terrorist attacks in which four Israelis were murdered. A couple were gunned down while their children were forced to watch in a planned ambush by a Hamas cell. Then, a terrorist in the Old City murdered two men and wounded a woman and her baby.

Since then, there have been dozens of individual terrorist attacks. However, none of them came close to the damage of the first two. Individual terrorists are using kitchen knifes, screwdrivers, and even a potato peeler. The terrorists are individuals who are motivated by a desire to become martyrs, having been raised in a climate of anti-Israel (and anti-Semitic) incitement.

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But there is no evidence of direct recruitment or orchestration of the attacks. In almost every case, the result has been the light to moderate wounding of the victims. At the same time, all the terrorists have been killed or apprehended as Israeli police and soldiers have responded quickly and effectively to these attacks.

I am not saying that these attacks should be ignored. The targeting of Jews in Israel simply because they are Jews by those who have been raised on incitement is terrorism and needs to be fought vigorously. Anyone going about their daily business must be vigilant and constantly on the lookout for dangerous situations.

But a teenager with a potato peeler (or even those who were armed with knives and screwdrivers) is very different than an organized group with bombs strapped around their bodies detonating themselves in crowded public places. While the desire to kill as many Jews as possible is still there, years of Israeli intelligence and military operations have removed the Palestinians’ ability to plan sophisticated deadly attacks from safe areas. They no longer have the ability to hold all of Israeli society hostage.

Terrorism is first and foremost about spreading fear, causing panic, and disrupting society. Israel’s enemies are hoping that despite the relative lack of successful attacks, the current situation will be perceived as much more deadly than it has been. As far as they are concerned, the actual number of victims is less important than the impact the attacks will have on the country.

So I am not ready to pin a label on the current situation and can only hope that future events will support my position rather than Pesach’s. We are experiencing an upsurge in violent attacks that can and will be defeated by tough law enforcement by a vigilant citizenry.

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Featured image: CC BY-NC L.C. Nottaasen via flickr with additions by HonestReporting

Featured image: CC BY-NC Mark Seton via flickr with additions by HonestReporting