The raid comes less than a week after three Israelis were shot in Tel Aviv, two critically, in a terrorist attack claimed by Hamas.
Terrorism originating from the West Bank soared last year, a comprehensive data analysis released in January of 2022 attacks by the Meir Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center shows. The center provides the best open source intelligence and analysis in the world, not only about terrorist groups on Israel's borders but also about all jihadi groups and their worldwide operations as well as Iran and its numerous hit squads, and generates unique reports such as the recent one about how Palestinian children have become latest recruits in the terrorist war against Israel.
Attacks by Palestinians from the West Bank increased 62 percent last year, killing 31 Israelis. our Israelis were killed in 2021 attacks. The violence continued into 2023, with seven people shot and killed outside a Jerusalem synagogue in January.
A shooting rampage in Bnei Brak proved deadliest. Five people were killed by a 26-year-old Palestinian from a town near Jenin using an M16 to hunt down innocent people. He even shot at a child riding a bicycle. It could have been far worse. The terrorist reportedly was aiming at a woman and her baby when two police officers arrived, drawing his attention. Amir Khoury, an Arab-Israeli police officer, was shot and killed by the terrorist. Khoury's partner was able to kill the terrorist.
While Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad operatives were targeted Thursday, many of the attacks during the past year have come from smaller, emerging groups such as Lion's Den, the Jenin Battalion, the Nablus Battalion and the al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades.
Israel launched "Operation Wave Breaker" a year ago to try to curb their attacks. Security forces made more than 2,600 terrorism-related arrests, seized 493 weapons, and shut down 14 weapons manufacturing workshops.
Those raids often led to deadly confrontations. Israeli security forces killed 154 Palestinians in 2022, identifying 130 who were involved in terrorist activity, the Meir Amit report said.
"Hundreds of people—civilians and IDF soldiers—have been saved as a result of these security operations," IDF spokesman Maj. Nir Dinar told the Jewish News Syndicate (JNS).
As the latest Tel Aviv shooting shows, there is no end in sight.
The Palestinian Authority (PA) continues to foster a "shaheed [martyrdom] culture," the Meir Amit report said. It "continued encouraging popular terrorism, what they refer to as 'peaceful popular resistance.' It includes hard core and often fatal violence, and is not, as Palestinian leadership rhetoric claims, or as the PA represents it to the West, in any way 'peaceful.' ... The PA supports 'popular resistance' attacks and systematically does nothing to condemn, including when they wound or kill Israelis. The PA praises the terrorist operatives and gives their families special treatment, including financial support."
Incredibly, PA President Mahmoud Abbas publicly says he opposes violent "resistance." But if that were true, he would stop his administration's and Palestinian lionization of dead and incarcerated terrorists. And he would end the "pay to slay" program that gives would-be terrorists the assurance that their loved ones will be taken care of if they die or are arrested trying to kill Israelis.
Yet Palestinian media often deliberately twists reality on its head to further incite the killings of Jews by turning the terrorist into the victim and turning the victim into the terrorist. Rather than report the truth of an attempted terrorist operation that a Palestinian was killed ramming a car into Israelis, or was shot stabbing an Israeli civilian, Palestinians are told the Israelis "executed" an innocent person.
Palestinian media in the West Bank is "controlled by the PA and serves as an echo chamber for the inflammatory rhetoric issued by the PA that demonizes Jews and glorifies terrorists to the point that the killing of Jews has become ingrained [in the minds of successive generations of Palestinians," Palestinian human rights activist Bassem Eid told the Investigative Project on Terrorism. "This is the tragedy of my people."
The spike in West Bank attacks corresponds with a sharp decline in rocket fire coming from Gaza. Hamas, the report says, encourages attacks from the West Bank, but is trying to keep Gaza quiet for now as it rebuilds its arsenals with more advanced rockets and missiles, digs a vast array of new underground tunnels, many under schools and hospitals (which the IDF publicly identified last year).
Still, hundreds of rockets were fired at Israeli communities last August, injuring 70 people and drawing a strong Israeli response. But Israel did not wage any significant military campaign in Gaza beyond that. It did disclose Hamas terrorist sites embedded near civilians, including near a hospital and a mosque.
And that evidence reinforces a point so clear and simple it should not require stating: Despite the baseless, antisemitic smear of an Israeli "genocide" of Palestinians, the overwhelming majority of Israeli military action follows a terrorist attack or targets the infrastructure which make such attacks possible. Palestinian terrorists, on the other hand, deliberately seek out innocents, be they mothers standing by a window or Israelis out for a night in restaurants and bars.
Meanwhile, an attack last Monday in northern Israel is believed to have been carried out by a man who was sent by Hizballah to infiltrate from Lebanon. It marks the first terrorist infiltration on that border in 17 years. After an IED exploded, severely injuring an Israeli Arab man, police tracked down and killed the suspect. He had an explosive vest with him and enough material to carry out additional attacks.
The attack shows "the kind of complex asymmetric threats that Israel faces – instead of large-scale complex terror attacks, Israel increasingly faces numerous disjointed groups, from the clashes in Jenin and Nablus, to Jericho," Seth Frantzman wrote Thursday in the Jerusalem Post.
Terrorist leaders promise not to let up. Hamas deputy chairman Salah Al-Arouri, who built up his terrorist group's West Bank presence from his safe haven in Turkey, told a Hamas news outlet last week that terrorist attacks will continue so Israel knows "the future would be more difficult."
Arouri masterminded the 2014 kidnapping and murder of three Jewish teenagers on their way home from school, one an American citizen,. The killings sparked a series of events which led to the August 2014 Gaza war.
Human rights activist Eid has been a lonely but extraordinarily courageous Palestinian voice in documenting and decrying the "pervasive terrorist culture and deep seated violent antisemitism that has saturated our kindergartens, our grade schools, our universities, our state-controlled media, nearly every institution and everything we read."
The terrorism that Israel has experienced for years is largely the result of Western governments deliberately turning a blind eye to decades of Palestinian institutional incitement to carry out terrorist atrocities against Jews and payouts of massive financial rewards to those who do. At the same time, American and European media and Western NGOs are also complicit for intentionally suppressing reporting about the massive institutional glorification of jihad and martyrdom operations from kindergarten through college. Even the much fabled international human rights groups only very occasionally issue reports about Palestinian incitement, terrorism and for that matter suppression of human rights.
Moreover, as far as the mainstream American media is concerned, Palestinian incitement and the PA's and Hamas' indoctrination of their children, students and young adults is considered off the table. No one believes for a second that American journalists are duped by the duplicity of the PA leaders in saying one thing in Arabic and another in English. There are far too many organizations that monitor, translate and publicly disseminate the Arabic incitement by the PA and Hamas. The reason is quite simple: an ideological anti-Israeli bias that does not hold the Palestinians to any standard because it sees any negative news about the Palestinians in a contrived zero-sum game. It's the same reason why the same media outlets have performed rhetorical acrobatics to avoid using the term terrorist in describing murderous atrocities by Palestinian terrorists against Israeli synagogue worshippers, civilians in Tel Aviv or pregnant Israeli mothers. By contrast, as appropriate, the media describes the attacks by ISIS, al-Qaida and other jihadi groups as terrorist.
When the PA or Hamas are forced to be accountable, maybe, just maybe, Palestinian society will be liberated from its authoritarian chokehold and be able to see the same vision that Bassem Eid sees: that abandoning terrorism, violence and hatred is the only route to a stable prosperous and independent future.
Steven Emerson is executive director of the Investigative Project on Terrorism, the author of eight books on national security and terrorism, the producer of two documentaries, and the author of hundreds of articles in national and international publications.
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