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Thursday, November 06, 2014

Vehicular Intifada: How Hamas will Punish Fatah

With this new vehicular intifada starting to gain momentum, I am feeling a bit helpless.  Like most people here, I spend a fair amount of time on the roads, and my children (at least my older kids) find themselves standing at bus stops several time per week.

Israel has gotten so good at heading off terrorists before they can act that it has forced the leaders of the terror organizations to come up with new terror methods that are impossible, and more importantly illegal, to anticipate.

Unlike, say, a terrorist wearing explosives or carrying a bomb, knife or gun, a person who intends to use a vehicle (or heavy construction equipment) as a weapon is nearly impossible to preempt or anticipate, because up until the moment that the vehicle impacts someone or something, it and the person operating it are acting completely within the law.  

In a free and open democracy, it is perfectly legal to walk around with criminal thoughts, and even criminal intentions.  But until you act on those thoughts/intentions, you have not done anything against which agents of the state may legally act.

  • Building a bomb is a criminal act.
  • Donning a suicide vest is a criminal act.
  • Carrying an illegal knife or gun is a criminal act.
  • Getting behind the wheel of a car or tractor and starting to drive is not a criminal act...

... until the moment you deliberately drive the car or tractor into someone or something.

The Israeli government has taken baby steps towards anticipating this vehicular intifada.  Many bus stops and places where pedestrians congregate are protected from approaching vehicles by big blocks of heavy concrete.

But these blocks are not aesthetic, so the police and military have, so far, resisted placing them in city centers and other places where tourists might be given the impression that there is 'trouble in the holy land'.

As of this morning, the Jerusalem Light Rail platforms (the site of two vehicular terror attacks) have now been blocked off with these unsightly concrete cubes.

And although most of the bus stops in Judea and Samaria (the West Bank) already have these concrete bulwarks, it is only a matter of time before bus stops inside the green line will be forced to put up these unsightly barriers.

To be clear, that is the goal.

Just is in the previous intifadas, the goal of the terror leaders is not to maim and kill Israelis.  It is to strip Israel of its veneer of aesthetic beauty and security, and force Israelis in general (and the security forces in particular) to view every Arab as a potential terrorist.

One of the things that vexed Hamas during the last Gaza war was the relative silence and indifference shown by the Palestinians living in the West Bank to what was happening in Gaza.

One can debate whether the West Bank Arabs were truly indifferent.  But their silence was predicted quite accurately many years ago when Netanyahu became Prime Minister.  He predicted that the best way to achieve peace (or at least quiet) with the Palestinians was to help them achieve economic success.

People with good jobs, businesses and homes, he presciently reasoned, had too much to lose to participate in another intifada (or, G-d forbid, a war).  

Which is why for the most part, the relatively affluent Arab residents of the West Bank and Israel sat quietly on the sidelines and at most, attended a small demonstration against the last Gaza war.

The flaw in Bibi's strategy is in thinking of the Palestinians in Israel and the West Bank as a unified entity.  He forgot that Hamas won the last Palestinian election, and that despite PA (Fatah) crackdowns, there remained many Hamas cells and much sympathy for the group.

It is Hamas and its sympathetic cousin, Islamic Jihad that are firing these first shots of the vehicular intifada.  It doesn't matter that the overwhelming majority of Israeli Arabs and West Bank Palestinians are indifferent to the 'resistance' (as armed terror is euphemistically called).  

Actually it does matter.  The entire point of this new terror endeavor is to force a new wedge between the complacent, silent Arab population and the Israeli Jewish population and create an atmosphere of distrust and hate which will almost certainly result from the inevitable security crack-down, roadblocks, raids, revenge attacks and general distrust caused by these escalating vehicular attacks.

I wish I had a solution to offer.  But sadly, the only thing that can throw a wrench in this current uprising is a vocal outcry from the silent, complacent Arabs themselves; some sort of grass roots 'not in our name' up-swell of outrage at these vicious attacks.

But unfortunately it is unlikely to happen.  Because even though this is designed as a way to punish the silent, compacent Arabs of Israel and the West Bank (by turning them into objects of suspician and hate), as Bibi previously observed, ideals are expensive... and they have too much to lose.

Posted by David Bogner on November 6, 2014 | Permalink


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You are right that the Arabs who have earned some measure of economic success do not substantially participate in armed attacks. The UK has an analogous history.

When unemployment was high and poverty pervasive in Ireland, IRA attacks against the English multiplied. When Ireland turned the corner and became the economic Tiger of Europe, the attacks ceased.

The politicians took credit for the turn, but it is easy to negotiate with someone who is not willing to go 'all in'.

When I played poker for a living, I never bet my car keys. You don't bet what you are not willing to lose.

The question is how does Israel encourage economic success among a people whose philosophy discourages responsibility (for example, insha'Allah). I have no answer, and I'm smart. So I conclude that smarts will not solve the problem. But experience might. Shotgun it. Try a thousand ways. Keep those that work, quickly abandon those that don't.

Posted by: antares | Nov 7, 2014 12:43:38 AM

you close the border of Gaza, you shut off the electricity, and restart targeted killing of the hamas leadership.

Posted by: dave | Nov 7, 2014 1:41:43 AM

Not concrete blocks ,but big,heavy,reinforced planters are used in California in front of government buidings,and might serve the same purpose at transit stops in Israel.

Posted by: ED | Nov 15, 2014 2:46:16 AM

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