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‘Restricted’ Palestinians manage to reach their Israeli targets

Israeli security forces at the scene of the June 16 terror attack in which three Palestinians killed teenage Israeli policewoman Hadas Malka, near Damascus Gate in Jerusalem. Credit: Yonatan Sindel/Flash90.
Israeli security forces at the scene of the June 16 terror attack in which three Palestinians killed teenage Israeli policewoman Hadas Malka, near Damascus Gate in Jerusalem. Credit: Yonatan Sindel/Flash90.

By Stephen M. Flatow/

The newly released details about a recent terrorist attack in Jerusalem show how easily Palestinian terrorists can enter Israel—thus contradicting the phony claims that Palestinians’ movements are severely restricted by Israel.

The attack in question took place June 16. Three Palestinian terrorists killed a teenage Israeli policewoman named Hadas Malka, in Jerusalem. They also stabbed and shot several other Israelis, before they were killed.

The BBC rubbed salt in the victims’ wounds by headlining its reports of the attack: “Three Palestinians Killed After Deadly Stabbing in Jerusalem.” After being deluged with complaints, the BBC changed it to “Israeli Policewoman Stabbed to Death in Jerusalem.” Notice how, even in the corrected version, the Palestinians were still not identified as the aggressors. Many journalists seem to be incapable of writing a simple factual headline such as “Palestinian Murders Israeli.” It’s just not in their vocabulary.

This week, the Israeli authorities released some important new details about the attack. It turns out that an Arab resident of Jerusalem served as an accomplice. The terrorists were residents of Ramallah and did not have the necessary permits to enter Israel. So, the accomplice, who did have permission to enter because he lives in Jerusalem, drove to Ramallah to pick up the killers.

Let me pause in the story to point something out. The reason the terrorists had to go all the way to Jerusalem to kill Israelis is because there are no Israelis in Ramallah.

How can that be? Isn’t Ramallah in the “West Bank?” And isn’t the “West Bank” still “occupied territory,” as J Street and the BBC and the United Nations keep telling us?

The answer is “no.” There are no Israeli troops or Israeli governor in Ramallah; then-Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin pulled them out in 1995. Ramallah is the de facto capital city of the Palestinian Authority (PA). Palestinians run the schools, the courts, the police force, the hospitals and everything else.

But Dennis Ross, the former U.S. Mideast envoy, wants everyone to think Israel is still “occupying” Ramallah. He repeated the “occupation” myth in a recent article in the Jewish Review of Books. I wrote a letter to the editor, pointing out that the Israelis long ago withdrew from the areas where 98 percent of the Palestinians reside. In response, Ross insisted that those territories are still “occupied” because “Israel maintains control over movement.”

Well, that “control” is sometimes remarkably loose, to judge by what happened to those three terrorists from Ramallah. The accomplice picked them up in his van, and drove to Jerusalem. He would have had to cross through an Israeli checkpoint to get into Jerusalem. Evidently the border guards waved him through— that fact that he is a Jerusalem resident apparently was sufficient to trust him. It sounds like they didn’t even check the papers of the three passengers—because had they checked, the passengers would have been denied entry. And of course, Hadas Malka would still be alive.

I have written previously about Palestinian hiking clubs whose members go hiking for hours every Friday throughout the disputed territories, and never encounter Israeli soldiers or checkpoints. I have written about honest journalists who have reported that they move freely from Palestinian city to Palestinian city without Israeli interference.

Former Mideast envoys whose lives are dedicated to creating a Palestinian state may not like to acknowledge it, but 26 of Israel’s 27 checkpoints are not in “Palestinian territory,” restricting the “movement” of Palestinians—they are at the border between Israel and PA-controlled territory. The purpose of Israel’s checkpoints is the same as the checkpoints that are located at every airport in the world—to make sure that passengers aren’t carrying any bombs, guns or other weapons with them. Briefly “controlling the movement” of people passing through a checkpoint does not make Israel an “occupier.”

All of us—presumably even Dennis Ross—must wait in line, empty our pockets and take off our shoes before we’re allowed to get on an airplane. That doesn’t mean we’re being oppressed, restricted or occupied. They are the normal precautions that every country takes to protect itself. Surely Israel, the world’s top target for terrorist attacks, has the right to do likewise.

Stephen M. Flatow, a vice president of the Religious Zionists of America, is an attorney in New Jersey. He is the father of Alisa Flatow, who was murdered in an Iranian-sponsored Palestinian terrorist attack in 1995.

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