Following months of academic discussions on whether a third intifada has erupted or not, the time has come for an operational debate on the issue, which will probably conclude that while a third intifada has not been launched, we are in the midst of a pre-intifada period.
Our hostile neighbors are once again investing overtime hours in their old ballistic habits. All day long they throw stones at Israeli vehicles travelling in the West Bank and east Jerusalem, and hurl Molotov cocktails with the frequency in which fireworks light up the sky on Independence Day.
Each Friday, the Islamic day of recreation and rest, the violence surges. After the Palestinians are done eating their lunch they go out and hassle our forces in regular confrontation sites: Nabi Saleh, Na'alin, Qaddum, Silwad, and other villages.
Due to orders from above, during these confrontations IDF soldiers are breaking the international record for restraint in urban or semi-urban warfare. They are attacked with rocks and slingshot pellets, without being able to fire back because such an image may look bad in the press or jeopardize the peace negotiations, which will resume any time now.
Senior commanders and legal advisors are instilling this prohibition deep into the soldiers' psyche and frightening them ahead of every operation, to the point where they do not even open fire when they are permitted to do so.
"I prefer to see my soldiers in the hospital than in court," a senior IDF commander in the West Bank admitted. This is a terrible statement. It should lead to the suspension of all training exercises in the army and the convening of an urgent General Staff meeting.
If possible, the defense minister should also attend. In light of his past and his principles, it is hard to believe Ya'alon will continue to favor the State of Israel's photogenic and diplomatic needs over the need for deterrence. This deterrence is eroding at a frightening pace.
The restraint policy of the past few months has not convinced the Palestinians to stop. It convinced them to carry on. Stone-throwing incidents have steadily increased, and on YouTube more and more videos are being posted showing IDF soldiers fleeing. This also increases the Palestinians' motivation to continue with their violent ways. If any member of the General Staff believes that running away will spare us a third intifada, he should think again.