Hamas has ramped up its efforts to encourage attacks and violence on both sides of the Green Line following the Friday attack in Ariel in which a security guard was killed. Hamas leader Yahya Sinwar’s speech was an attempt to continue the struggle against Israel via the narrative that the Al-Aqsa mosque is under threat. This was a dangerous speech, particularly due to his explicit message to Arab Israelis. Sinwar, who seems to be showing signs of megalomania since the Israel Defense Forces’ “Operation Guardian of the Walls” last May, explicitly touched on Israeli politics in his address. He sought to situate himself not only as another terrorist element in search of nationalist activism among domestic elements but as someone attempting to determine others’ fate inside the Israeli government.
Ra’am Party leader Mansour Abbas was right to dismiss Sinwar’s remarks and make clear he would only act to protect the interests of Arab Israelis. This is an important component in cutting Sinwar back down to his natural size. Sinwar is, after all, the leader of a not particularly large terrorist organization who erroneously believes he is setting out an equation for Israel. His remark that Israel is “weaker than a spider’s web” was a dull imitation of the speech given by Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah after Israel withdrew from southern Lebanon in 2000. Nasrallah has learned a thing or two since, and at any rate, it’s doubtful Sinwar has anything to brag about: None of the attacks perpetrated in recent weeks were carried out by his organization.
Hamas may have gained a great deal of popularity on the Palestinian and eastern Jerusalem streets and on social media, but from a strictly operational perspective, the last month has been a total failure for the terrorist group. Sinwar understands this full well, and that is why he is trying to ride the wave of others’ success. These efforts will continue in the coming days, until the Eid al-Fitr holiday that marks the conclusion of Ramadan and Israel’s Independence Day. Sinwar is seeking to ensure Hamas stays relevant without having to set the Gaza Strip on fire. He nevertheless threatened that his organization was capable of launching more than 1,000 rockets simultaneously.
And yet, Israel is expected to face a complex security challenge in Judea and Samaria. The attack in Ariel will obviously encourage copycats, as we have seen in the past. This will require the IDF to divert forces now stationed along the seam zone, or areas east of the Green Line and west of the Jerusalem-adjacent security fence, toward operational activities based on Shin Bet information deep inside Palestinian territory that will lead to arrests and interrogations that will enable the thwarting of additional attacks. We will also see reinforcements along the axes and entrances to communities. Here, too, we can assume that there will be those who will try to once again challenge the security arrangements in place.
Alongside its operational activity, the IDF will need to examine the security methods and procedures in place at the guard post where the Ariel security guard was murdered. The preliminary investigation has shown that the terrorists scouted the post and identified it as a weak spot before they acted. The tactical operations of the guards on the ground also demand examination, in particular in the stages that preceded the gunfire: From the moment the terrorists opened fire from the car they were driving, the security guard defended his girlfriend, the other guard, with his body and paid for it with his life. The terrorists who carried out the attack acted without much sophistication, which, of course, increases the sense of frustration in the Shin Bet and the IDF. They were caught in their homes—each of them with their improvised weapon—and appear to have acted of their own volition, without any assistance or guidance from an organization.
Unlike a majority of the perpetrators of recent attacks, the Ariel terrorists gave in without a fight, which is why they are still alive. This will allow Israel to learn about how they planned the attack and how they obtained the weapons used to carry it out.
The security system will certainly implement the lessons of the attack as soon as possible, but the arguments made Saturday against the use of civilian security firms in Judea and Samaria are mistaken. Civilian security guards have an important role to play in securing the front, in particular when crossings and communities are concerned. As these guards have served in military combat units and do this for a living, they tend to be better trained and more measured in their actions than IDF conscripts.
If a solution is deemed necessary, it would involve improvements on specific issues and not the general concept. The fact that of the 15 victims of terrorist attacks over the last month, the Ariel security guard was the first to be killed in Judea and Samaria teaches us that security pressure works and should be maintained, in particular against the background of Sinwar’s recent remarks.
Yoav Limor is a veteran Israeli journalist and columnist for Israel Hayom.
This article was originally published by Israel Hayom.