After terror attack, Israel needs to figure out if this is part of something bigger – Haaretz

Posted By on March 28, 2022

Within less than a week, six Israelis have been murdered in two terror attacks in the heart of cities: the first four on Tuesday during a car-ramming and knifing attack in Be'er Sheva, and the following two on Sunday after being gunned down by two terrorists in Hadera. Right on cue for the 20-year anniversary of Operation Defensive Shield, TV newscasts are once again carrying images reminiscent of those horrific days. Even the targets have remained the same the downtowns of Israeli cities inside the Green Line.

The two terrorists in Hadera were killed during a firefight with police who arrived on location as soon as they heard the shots. According to preliminary police reports, the terrorists have been identified as Israeli Arabs, apparently residents of Umm al-Fahm. The Beer Sheva murderer was an Israeli Bedouin from the Negev who had done time in prison for being connected to ISIS. Currently, his action is being defined as a lone-wolf attack. The security footage from Hadera shows two bearded terrorists, with at least one of them having the appearance of an Islamist operative.

On Sunday night, security authorities were looking into the possibility that the Hadera murderers had a similar ideological background to that of the murderer who went on a killing spree in Beer Sheva. After the first attack a thesis was proposed in the security establishment that the incident is connected, in part, to the global resurgence of ISIS, whose followers around the Middle East have been active recently, in part due to Islamist triumphalism following the hurried and timid American withdrawal from Afghanistan.

From the long and relatively detailed dissemination on Sunday night, it is evident that both terrorists were relatively well-trained in firearm use, staying cool under fire. At first one of them seems to be firing a handgun. One or both of the M-16 rifles may have been taken from passengers who were shot upon exiting the bus. The video footage also shows a male and female soldier, both armed, fleeing the scene (these may be Border Police personnel). Later on, the male soldier is seen returning fire from the other end of the road and then other police join in the fire.

According to preliminary reports from the scene, these were members of the police special reconnaissance unit (YASAM) who happened to be eating in a nearby restaurant. The quick intervention of the police who joined in clearly stopped the killing spree. Like the attacks of the second intifada, and the brief lone-wolf intifada of 2015, this once again illustrates the need for the presence of skilled armed citizens police or civilians to stop such attacks. It usually takes time for the local police patrol to reach the scene. Ending the attack depends on a more immediate response.

A Shin Bet and police investigation will have to determine whether this was a copycat attack, inspired by the Beer Sheva murders, or a more concerted initiative by a terrorist organization. Concurrently, we will have to find out why, for the second time in a row, there was no prior warning for the intent to carry out a terror attack. This time it wasn't a single individuals initiative. And as the terrorists arrived armed with at least a handgun, there may have been someone who sold or provided it to them. This is a series of actions that typically leaves a trail, which the intelligence agency radars should be able to pick up.

After the attack in Beer Sheva, the political brass, on advice from the security establishment, made a deliberate distinction between the Palestinian arena and the terrorist, and therefore announced that no restrictions would be imposed on the territories. Despite the upcoming month of Ramadan, and the fear of religious radicalization that will encourage terror attacks, the government decided only yesterday to increase the number of work permits for laborers from Gaza from 12,000 to 20,000. It will be hard to maintain this forbearance for long, with the opposition jumping on the bandwagon and accusing the government of neglecting citizens security. At the same time, the maneuverability of the United Arab List within the coalition will be further hampered, should the terrorists indeed turn out to be Islamist operatives from within the Green Line.

As an aside and theres no choice but to call it that the attacks timing completely disrupted the positive momentum that the Negev summit, where Foreign Minister Yair Lapid hosted his counterparts from the United States and four Arab countries, sought to create. This was presumably deliberate.

The Americans had wanted to use the summit to assuage the concerns of its friends in the region, who are frustrated and worried by the Biden administrations focus on Russia and China and its intent to sign a new nuclear deal with Iran in the near future.

The summit was planned as a direct continuation of the breakthrough created by the Abraham Accords, which were signed about a year and a half ago. But its festive nature was clouded from the start by disagreements with the Americans over Israels refusal to include the Palestinian Authority in the event and Jordans decision not to participate.

And Sunday night, two terrorists went to Hadera and reminded everyone that with all due respect to all the talk about a new Middle East and courageous alliances, there are still violent forces that seek to disrupt these achievements and are willing to use guns to send the message.

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After terror attack, Israel needs to figure out if this is part of something bigger - Haaretz

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