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Increased, targeted force mitigated Israel’s last terror wave

Israeli forces, again, entered Palestinian towns and villages almost daily to make arrests, leading to a 90% decrease in terrorism.

Palestinian terrorists parade in the Jenin refugee camp in Samaria, June 19, 2022. Photo by Nasser Ishtayeh/Flash90.
Palestinian terrorists parade in the Jenin refugee camp in Samaria, June 19, 2022. Photo by Nasser Ishtayeh/Flash90.
Hillel Frisch
Hillel Frisch
Hillel Frisch is a professor of political studies and Middle East studies at Bar-Ilan University and an expert on the Arab world at The Jerusalem Institute for Strategy and Security.

In a world dominated by the progressive left-wing media and agenda, to argue the virtues of force is considered taboo. (Unless, that is, you’re a third-world nationalist, ethnic, or Islamic fundamentalist movement.)

The defeat of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), one of the most powerful and murderous terrorist movements to emerge in the latter part of the 20th century, by the Sinhalese-dominated government of Sri Lanka in 2009 is a good example.

Academics and media experts had argued that the movement could never be defeated, and that if defeated, the LTTE would reemerge with even greater force. Such forecasts, heavily laden with ideology, proved wrong. The LTTE was utterly defeated, and 13 years later, Sri Lanka is facing an economic and political crisis that has little to do with the Tamil insurrection or the moribund terrorist organization that led it.

The same arguments have been made against Israel’s (discriminate) use of force against Palestinian terrorism.

An analysis of the Israeli response to the recent wave of indiscriminate Palestinian terrorism demonstrates that targeting the terrorists and their supporters is effective. The IDF and elite undercover security forces launched multiple raids to stop the wave of violence in late March, especially in the Jenin region of northern Samaria, where the perpetrators of three murderous attacks lived.

The response, dubbed “Operation Breakwater,” was not qualitatively different from ordinary IDF operations in Judea and Samaria, conducted since the spring of 2002. At that time, Israeli forces would clean out sanctuaries of terrorism and apprehend or kill those responsible for the most significant wave of Palestinian terrorism since Israel’s War of Independence.

These daily raids led to a 90% decrease in terrorism,

Israel’s heightened use of force this time around was reflected in the increasing number of arrests. During January and February, preceding the beginning of the wave in March, 456 and 448 arrests were made, respectively. This increased dramatically to 1,128 arrests in April, after the beginning of “Operation Breakwater.”

The intensity of Israeli activity can also be seen in the number of Palestinians killed. Six were killed in February before the wave began, with the number increasing to 13 when it started in March and reaching 21 in April. It dropped to nine in May.

The effectiveness of this increased use of force is plain to see. In March, the terrorists killed 12 and wounded 27. By the end of April, the numbers had declined rapidly, to four dead and 18 wounded, and by May to four dead (one of them being Noam Raz, a member of the Yamam police unit) and six wounded.
The murderous attack on May 5 in Elad, in which three Israeli citizens were hacked to death by two terrorists from the Jenin area, might have spelled the end of the wave.

However, one cannot disregard the importance of other, more defensive measures. For example, soldiers were sent to fill in the gaps in the security fence. Numerous Palestinians attested to their effectiveness by complaining to local media that the soldiers’ presence had thwarted their attempts to cross the fence to work within the Green Line.

One interview in particular, of two Palestinians, revealed how porous the security fence was, and how effective the increased monitoring of the fence had been. They complained that they and many others in the P.A. could not get to the hundreds of buses waiting in the Israeli Arab city of Umm al-Fahm to transport them to the Temple Mount during Ramadan, thus circumventing security roadblocks.

Three important lessons should be learned from the recent wave. First, the security forces should quicken their response after a terrorist attack or when signs appear that attacks could be forthcoming.

For example, the increasing demonstrations of armed terrorists in Jenin and Nablus, many of whom belong to Islamic Jihad, Hamas, and Fatah, in the months preceding the wave should have alerted the security agencies to act earlier rather than later.

Second, the security establishment must be forever wary of relying on the P.A. to do the work for them.

Third, refraining from using force, rather than exercising it, encourages terrorism.

Hillel Frisch is a professor of political studies and Middle East studies at Bar-Ilan University and an expert on the Arab world at the Jerusalem Institute for Strategy and Security.

This article was originally published by the Jerusalem Institute for Strategy and Security.

The opinions and facts presented in this article are those of the author, and neither JNS nor its partners assume any responsibility for them.
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