(March 23, 2022 / JNS) The deadly car-ramming and knife-stabbing spree carried out in Beersheva on Tuesday by Muhammad Abu Al-Kiyan, a 34-year-old Bedouin Israeli man and ISIS supporter, saw attempts by Gazan terror factions to “hitch a ride” on the violence and to further inflame the fans of terrorism.
Hamas, the terror organization that rules the Gaza Strip, praised the attack while doling out sweets to passersby in the coastal enclave as an act of celebration.
Palestinian Islamic Jihad also welcomed the attack, saying that “resistance operations deter the occupation.” A spokesman said that “Israel should know that our people will not surrender and that the flag of resistance and jihad will remain hoisted.”
Not to be outdone, Hezbollah in Lebanon called the attack a “heroic and brave operation,” describing it as “a true expression of the wind of resistance and struggle among the Palestinian people that rejects occupation.”
But these calls have had no visible effect on the ground in Israel or the West Bank, and do not appear to be successful rallying calls at this time.
Many Arab Israeli voices, meanwhile, have clearly condemned the attack and the terrorist, including figures from his own Bedouin town of Houra in southern Israel.
Al-Kiyan’s extended family released a statement on Wednesday describing his attack as a “black stain.”
Moreover, it appeared to be a local incident with no prior indications that the terrorist was going to pounce before he did.
Still, concerns of an escalation in the Palestinian arena remain, as potentially explosive calendar dates loom, including Ramadan and Land Day (which falls on March 30), in addition to the Passover and Easter holidays in April.
To make the coming period as calm as possible, Israel has been maximizing efforts to allow freedom of religion, worship and a range of easing of conditions for Palestinians. These steps have been led by the Ministry of Defense, along with the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT), a unit in the Defense Ministry that coordinates Palestinian civilian affairs; and the IDF Civil Administration, which is responsible for administrative policies designed to improve the quality of life of all civilians in the West Bank.
‘Real opposition and not lip service’
Professor Boaz Ganor, founder and executive director of the International Institute for Counter-Terrorism in Herzliya, cautioned that while escalation is always a plausible scenario in the region, the chance of it occurring specifically because of Tuesday’s attack is slim.
“An escalation can occur due to any expected or unexpected step in the Palestinian, Israeli, regional or global arenas,” he said. “Despite that, I would view the attack as a lone incident that stands on its own. It does not reflect a trend in the Arab-Israeli arena. The level of support for Arab Israelis for ISIS is very negligible. Even at its peak in 2015 to 2016, the number of ISIS operatives did not reach tens.”
Ganor noted that ISIS reflects an Islamist-jihadist global worldview that threatens the entire world—Arab countries and Israel, but also the Palestinian arena and even Hamas, which has clashed with ISIS elements in Gaza in the past.
Expressions by the heads of the Arab-Israeli society against the Beersheva attack “reflect real opposition and not lip service,” said Ganor.
As a result, he concluded, should an escalation occur in the coming weeks in the Palestinian arena, “whether it is because of an incitement of urges during the month of Ramadan or various incidents that will intentionally or unintentionally ignite Judea and Samaria, Jerusalem and even Gaza, it won’t be tied to the attack that occurred yesterday.”
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