By: Carole Nuriel, ADL's Jerusalem Office
Over the past two weeks, a wave of terror has once again hit Israel. For those of us who grew up in Israel during the 1980s, this is an unfortunate reality we know all too well. Israelis suffered through two intifadas, waves of terror attacks including suicide bombs, shootings, run-over attacks, stone throwing and Molotov cocktails. Yet there is a feeling now that this particular wave of terror is different. There are a few reasons for this:
• The terrorists' profile: They come both from Palestinian areas in the West Bank and from Israeli Arab communities
• Most of them are relatively young, some even teenagers
Obviously, another change is the use of social media: some of the terrorists have declared their intention to carry out attacks on social media. This tool, which has become the new "city square”, provides a platform for recruitment, incitement, how-tos, as well as for organizing crowds to demonstrate and riot against Israeli security forces.
In many ways, this wave of violence represents an on-the-ground version of the recent Hamas rocket attacks from Gaza, which indiscriminately targeted Israeli civilians throughout the country. This wave may have started in East Jerusalem and the West Bank, but quickly caught fire to the rest of the country, and is now targeting cities like Kiryat Gat, Petach Tikva, Tel Aviv and Afula. Much like Hamas’ rockets, much of the fear Israelis are now feeling is because of the sense that no place in the country is immune from terror attacks.
Anxiety is felt everywhere, as is the nature of terrorism. I live in Modi'in and have taken Road 443 to Jerusalem daily for the past eight years. However, during the last few months I haven’t felt safe driving on 443, especially with my kids, as there have been numerous stone and Molotov cocktail throwing incidents on this road. I now feel safer taking Highway 1, even though it means a longer drive to Jerusalem. Indeed, many Modi’in residents don’t drive on 443 anymore. Something has definitely changed. Just today, I received a notice that security checkpoints will be erected at all entrances to the city, and security in all educational institutions will be increased.
Polls have shown that there is a general public consensus among Palestinians against terrorism. But last week we witnessed another kind of evil, one which greatly worries me. During Saturday night’s terrible stabbing in the Old City of Jerusalem, Adele Bennett, whose husband was killed and she herself stabbed, was reportedly spat on and laughed at by Arab bystanders as she ran to get help with a knife still in her back. What can be more insulting, upsetting and inhumane than this indecent act?
But this is not only about terror, it’s also about incitement to violence. Many of those rioting claim Israel is attempting to change the status quo on Temple Mount. This holy place to both Judaism and Islam has been the focus of clashes and provocations for years. It is hard to ignore the dangerous actions and discourse of the Islamic Movement in Israel, who have supported the Murabitun/Murabitat group, whose sole purpose is to provoke and insult Jews visiting the Temple Mount. Incitement has also come from senior Palestinian Authority officials, including President Mahmoud Abbas who infamously declared in a television interview a few weeks ago that Jews are defiling the Temple Mount with their feet.
Today more than ever, religious and political leaders must understand how easily their inciting words can lead to violence and terrorism.
There are ongoing efforts among Israeli and Palestinian leaders to deescalate tensions. Israelis hope and pray that this will be successful, and that the personal security will be restored.