Since the 2007 coup by Hamas in Gaza, the Israel Defense Forces and Israel Security Agency (Shin Bet) have served as the guardians and life support mechanism of the Palestinian Authority. Headed by Mahmoud Abbas (aka Abu Mazen) since 2005, the P.A. long ago lost control in the territories over which it was granted authority by the 1993 Oslo accords. The IDF, which has been carrying out arrest raids every night for years—activity which has intensified since “Operation Breakwater” began in March following a rash of deadly terror attacks in Israeli cities—has now replaced the corrupt and inefficient mechanisms of the P.A.
The P.A. as an enemy of Israel
The government of Israel practically absolves the P.A. of all responsibility for what happens in its territory—including acts with fatal consequences for the State of Israel and its citizens. Acts that, if committed against it by any other political entity, would be considered grounds for war. For some reason, Israel contains, absorbs or ignores severe and unceasing incitement against it and the Jewish people in Palestinian educational institutions, mosques and in media. Abbas himself denies the Holocaust, all while overseeing illegal construction in and the takeover of land in Judea and Samaria through construction and planting, the paving of unapproved roads and more.
Above all of these, the Palestinian Authority encourages terrorism against Israeli citizens.
The Academy of the Hebrew Language defines an enemy as “a country, military organization, and the like that is in a state of war or in hostile relations with another country or military organization.” Although the Palestinian Authority is not a state, it certainly qualifies as a political entity. It may not be a military organization, but it has security forces that are armed and organized as a de facto army.
By any measure, the Palestinian Authority considers Israel to be an enemy, yet Israel’s leaders refuse to recognize this and cling to the fragments of the imaginary peace that resulted from the largely expired Oslo Accords, as if the P.A. and the man who heads it were their salvation.
The P.A. has absolved itself of a significant and substantial part of its obligations under its agreements with Israel, does not use its trained forces to curb terrorism—even those trained specifically trained for this purpose by the U.S. and other forces—but on the contrary incites terror with every means at its disposal. This includes expressing open and direct support for the perpetrators of murderous attacks and giving extensive assistance to their family members.
Yet still, in Israel, people adamantly refuse to acknowledge the bitter reality and try to cover up the harsh reality.
And it is a cover-up. Otherwise, how to explain the downplaying of constant Palestinian terrorism? Dozens of attacks occur every day that do not appear in the monthly statistics that the Shin Bet publishes, alongside other serious events that fail to merit headlines in the news. Why is a stone hurled at a family car on a highway not treated as attempted murder?
Consider: how many terrorist attacks occurred in the last two months throughout Judea and Samaria, and how many of them did you hear about or were covered by the media?
According to the Shin Bet report for June, there were zero stonings in the Judea and Samaria and Jerusalem sector, compared with a single attack in July. So what is all the fuss about, you might ask. However, the Shin Bet report lists only attacks resulting in at least moderate wounds. This is like not reporting a shooting because the intended victim was only lightly grazed by the bullet.
This, in contrast to the other attacks included in the report, such as the throwing of firebombs, the number of which in June was 117 and in July 75, pipe bombs (42 in June compared with 27 in July), small arms fire (11 incidents in June compared with 15 in July), arson (16 incidents in June compared with 12 in July) and stabbings (two in each of these months).
Summary and recommendations
The P.A. is in a difficult situation—and its leadership more so. The main actions of the P.A. and its leaders are currently aimed at preserving what little is left of their status, honor and property.
The next Israeli government must recognize the Palestinian Authority as a hostile entity, or simply as an enemy, just as it conducts itself, in word and deed, towards the state and its Jewish citizens. Citizens who are being attacked in their cities and while traveling on the country’s main roads.
A series of significant steps must be taken, steps that will make clear to all who is sovereign in the chosen land, and the consequences for anyone who dares to harm the Jews in their homeland, their only home and fortress in the world.
Among these steps is the application of real sovereignty over territories including the Jewish settlement blocs in Judea, Samaria and the Jordan Valley; the restoration of governance in Area C, which includes the establishment of new Israeli settlements; recognizing and extending state control over Israel’s heritage sites, such as the Altar on Mount Ebal and Joseph’s Tomb, and preventing damage to them; pursuing every armed terrorist, by any means available to our forces, deep in Arab territory and in accordance with the security concept moving the fight to the territory of the enemy.
Israel must cut out any mention on and take offline any website or infrastructure that glorifies and praises terrorists, stop the flow of funds to the Palestinian Authority used for incitement, restore deterrence and carry out acts of retribution and deterrence in every Arab village from which terrorist attacks regularly originate.
The “Russian Roulette” that is travel on the roads of Judea and Samaria must be stopped immediately, even at the cost of cutting down orchards and demolishing greenhouses and buildings that overlook the route. It is worth asking in this context why it was possible to stop traffic in the Gaza Strip for fear of a missile being fired at an Israeli vehicle, while every day Israeli vehicles and civilians are threatened and wounded by would-be assassins on the roadsides of Judea and Samaria, and by terrorists from nearby villages.
To conclude: if it talks like an enemy, acts like an enemy, it is an enemy. And regarding the well-known cliché that one can only make peace with one’s enemy—it must be remembered that this step can only come after he lays down his weapons, voluntarily or otherwise.
Tal Braun is a reserve officer with the rank of Colonel who has served in a variety of senior positions and units in the IDF.
This is an edited version of an article first published by the Israel Defense And Security Forum.