There has been a flurry of reports in recent days about Palestinian Arab terrorists in Judea and Samaria developing rocket launchers. This is a game-changer. It also goes straight to the heart of the debate over whether Israel could survive the creation of a Palestinian state.
After Israel eliminated three Palestinian Islamic Jihad commanders on May 9, IDF Spokesman Daniel Hagari said that one of the three, Tariq Muhammad Ezzedine, had been involved in “bringing improvised rockets that will be launched from the West Bank into Israel to harm civilians.” The Jerusalem Post noted, “Rockets have never been fired from the West Bank into Israel.”
On May 24, Israel Hayom reported that the IDF had discovered “a homemade rocket launcher” in the Palestinian Arab town of Kafr Nazlat “with which Palestinians allegedly tried to fire rockets at the Jewish community of Shaked.” They did succeed in launching at least one rocket, which “unverified footage” on social media showed exploding in midair before reaching its target.
By “homemade,” the IDF presumably means that development of the rockets had not yet reached the stage at which the terrorists have actual factories to produce them. They’re still developing and testing individual prototypes. But the phase of mass production is not far off.
The Jerusalem Post, possibly referring to incidents other than the Kafr Nazlat attack, cited “unconfirmed reports that terrorists had attempted to fire rockets from the West Bank, but had been stopped.”
All of this means that Palestinian Arab terrorists in Judea and Samaria are on the verge of acquiring the ability to fire rockets at Jewish communities.
To be clear, this represents a threat not only to Jewish towns in Judea and Samaria, but to every city and town throughout Israel. The first rocket was fired at Shaked in northern Samaria because it is the town closest to where the rocket launcher happened to be set up. But there are major Palestinian Authority-controlled cities, such as Tulkarm and Qalqilya, that are a few miles from Israeli towns situated within the pre-1967 lines.
This means that the rocket fire terrorizing Jewish communities near Gaza in recent years could soon be duplicated throughout the country.
Terrorists firing rockets in and from Judea and Samaria will be much harder to catch than those who use guns or knives. Snipers and stabbers need to get close to their targets. Rockets, by contrast, can operate from much greater distances. The terrorists can pick up their rocket launchers and disappear into the back alleys of Tulkarm long before Israeli soldiers arrive.
Obviously, rockets can cause a lot more harm than a bomb, rifle or knife. A well-aimed rocket can destroy an entire kindergarten or school bus. Imagine every Israeli kindergarten and school bus having to live with that danger on a daily basis.
These developments make it even more outrageous that the P.A. refuses to uses its American-trained and American-armed security forces to arrest the terrorists. The P.A. has one of the largest per-capita security forces in the world, yet terrorists operate within its territory with complete immunity—and, as usual, the international community is silent.
Most of all, the imminent deployment of Palestinian rockets demonstrates the extreme danger that Israel will face if it ever permits the creation of a sovereign Palestinian state in any part of Judea and Samaria. The borders of “Palestine” would put rocket-launchers within striking distance of the heart of Jerusalem, Tel Aviv and Haifa—and, of course, every plane taking off from or landing at Ben-Gurion Airport.
Until now, discussions about the feasibility of a Palestinian state have largely focused on hypothetical dangers. That’s changing now. The introduction of rockets into the arsenal of terrorists based in Judea and Samaria, and the P.A.’s refusal to take action against them, is creating what can only be described as a direct danger to Israel’s survival.