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Scene of Friday evening's terror attack in Jerusalem
Photo: EPA
Yossi Yehoshua
A false and misleading calm
Analysis: While Friday evening’s deadly attack in Jerusalem was carried out by a local cell, the kind of which Israeli security forces should've been able to thwart, their success in thwarting many other attacks should be noted, because below the surface, Hamas is encouraging terror cells to avenge the alleged Israeli assassination of commander Mazen Fukha.
Friday evening’s terror attack in Jerusalem poses a challenge to Israel’s security establishment. On the one hand, this isn’t the major attack Hamas is interested in launching from Gaza, and it isn’t an ISIS offensive either, as the terror organization initially claimed, because it hardly has any infrastructure in the West Bank.

 

 

Furthermore, the attack wasn’t carried out by a lone-wolf terrorist, but by a local cell of three terrorists, who were not known to authorities but did participate in popular terror activity in the Ramallah area. It was carried out with simple weapons like an improvised ‘Carlo’ machine gun and knives.

 

The Shin Bet could have been expected to thwart this cell before it hit the road.

 

IDF fighters arrest a Palestinian during clashes near Ramallah, Saturday. The main challenge is to get through the Ramadan period by boosting preventing and intelligence activities (Photo: AP)
IDF fighters arrest a Palestinian during clashes near Ramallah, Saturday. The main challenge is to get through the Ramadan period by boosting preventing and intelligence activities (Photo: AP)

 

On the other hand, in light of the recent series of terror attacks that have hit the world over the past few months, the Shin Bet and IDF’s prevention operations could be appreciated even more: In 2016 alone, 186 shooting attacks were thwarted and 114 local cells were arrested.

  

Their failure to thwart this attack, however, should also be put into proportion in light of their accomplishments in thwarting many other attacks, because the relative calm Israel has been experiencing is false and misleading: Below the surface, there is a lot of activity going on, particularly on Hamas’s part, which is trying to get cells to carry out revenge attacks for the alleged Israeli assassination of Mazen Fukha, a Hamas commander who was gunned down in Gaza in March. 

 

Furthermore, the improvised machine gun used in Friday’s attack points to the terrorists’ difficulty in getting hold of standard weapons and to the success of the increasing Israeli operations against lathe-shops operating in the West Bank.

 

In spite of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman’s militant statements over the weekend, the political echelons decided to accept the defense establishment’s recommendation not to take excessive measures against the population and to keep distinguishing between the population and the terrorists: A curfew wasn’t imposed and collective work permits were not revoked—just like Israel didn’t do so at the height of the current "knife intifada." On the other hand, Israel did revoke the entry permits of more than 200,000 Palestinians who will not be allowed to visit Israel until the end of the Ramadan holiday, as well as the work permits of members of the three terrorists’ extended families.

 

The main challenge at the moment is to get through Ramadan, which is considered a period of high tensions that often lead to attacks, by boosting the prevention and intelligence activity. This is what the Shin Bet has been doing—focusing its efforts on copycat attacks that multiply as soon as they succeed.

 

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