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Photo: AFP
Riots in east Jerusalem following Arab teen's murder
Photo: AFP
Ron Ben-Yishai
Escalation scenario starting to fulfill itself
Analysis: With murderous terror attack in Judea and Samaria, rocket fire from Gaza and Jews seeking revenge, reality of past few weeks resembles scenario IDF has been preparing for.
Since the jolt in the Arab world began about three years ago, the IDF has been preparing for a scenario in which a flare-up on one of the fronts the Israeli army is dealing with will spread to other arenas and eventually spark a major war on two or three fronts.

 

 

In such a war, the Israeli home front will be hit with a large amount of missiles and rockets and will become, like the home front in Gaza and possibly in Lebanon, a main battlefield.

 

What happened in the past few weeks, and mainly in recent days, quite resembles this scenario, which the IDF refers to as "reasonable."

 

It began with a murderous attack by Hamas 20 days ago. Gaza joined several days later with a growing pace of rocket and mortar shell fire at the western Negev, and the Israel Air Force responded. On Monday, the bodies of the three kidnapped teens were discovered, and on Tuesday 16-year-old Mohammad Abu Khdeir of Shuafat was murdered. It is still unclear whether the murder was nationalistically or criminally motivated. The Palestinians in Jerusalem did not wait and, as expected, responded with riots.

 

According to the scenario written in the IDF's Operations Directorate, we are only in the beginning of the escalation, and we should hope that this scenario does not fulfill itself completely.

 

The incitement which began on Tuesday as the kidnapped teens were being buried has an emotional-impulsive component. The instigators want to hurt the Arabs, but more than that, they want to advance their political goal which is to expel the Arabs from the Greater Land of Israel.

 

Murdered Arab teen Mohammad Abu Khdeir
Murdered Arab teen Mohammad Abu Khdeir

 

Can the rolling fireball be stopped? (Photo: Gettyimages)
Can the rolling fireball be stopped? (Photo: Gettyimages)

 

This may very well be a third intifada (Photo: AFP)
This may very well be a third intifada (Photo: AFP)

 

The question is what should be done to stop the ball of fire which began rolling on Monday evening? First of all, a massive deployment of IDF and police forces in the territories and in friction areas in Israel.

 

In particularly sensitive areas, like Jerusalem for example, the police should set up roadblocks and send all forces to patrol the streets. In Judea and Samaria, the IDF must deploy and set up checkpoints, including mobile roadblocks and patrols and observations in the open fields, in order to prevent and create deterrence against additional acts of violence, both on the Palestinian side and on the Jewish side.

 

We must understand that originally, the biblical logic of "an eye for an eye" was aimed at deterring members of tribes wandering in the desert from breaking the law. Since then, this principle has been implemented as justification for revenge.

 

In our days it has a new twist. The moment one of my people has been murdered, I am not only waging a vendetta because I have been dishonored, but the victim narrative is now on my side and provides me with legitimacy to carry out an equally cruel act against my rival because I am the victim, and the victim – in other words, the underdog – is allowed to do anything.

 

Another measure is taking on all channels which shape and influence the public opinion, starting from the social networks to the synagogues and mosques. Rabbis and imams must be recruited, Facebook pages inciting to violence must be closed and Facebook pages calling for restraint must be opened. The social networks are a strong measure which can definitely be as effective as deploying massive forces on the ground.

 

The forces on the ground have to be massive so that they will not be forced to fire in self-defense at times of distress and will not cause casualties among the rioters, Jews or Palestinians. Every dead person in the current situation turns into a particularly explosive and inflammable material.

 

These are the main measures, and we must not forget the politicians, who must exercise maximum restraint on such days. Hanin Zoabi, for example, must be reminded by the Knesset that there is a limit even to the freedom of speech of an elected representative, and the limit is when the blood of innocent people might be shed as a direct result of such comments.

 

Restrain Jewish politicians as well

But Hanin Zoabi is not the only one who needs a reminder. They are quite a few Jewish politicians who must be restrained as well. Who will restrain them? The prime minister, for example, and it must be done quickly also in condemnation of the Arab youth's murders.

 

Another measure is of course the coordination with the Palestinian Authority and its security organizations.

 

The riots place the cabinet, which has been trying for the past three days to decide on the proper response for the murder of the three teens, in a particularly difficult position. Absurdly, the Arab youth's murder and the Jewish riots and racist calls for revenge on the social media are seriously eroding the international legitimacy Israel enjoyed until 48 hours ago.

 

With this legitimacy, Israel could have launched an operation in Gaza. Now, an operation in Gaza after Mohammad Abu Khdeir's murder will likely spark a major flare-up, not only in Judea and Samaria but also in Egypt and Jordan, and maybe even the Lebanese will be glad to forget about their internal quarrels for a moment and join the activity against Israel – diplomatic activity or, God forbid, violent activity.

 

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has already realized the potential this situation holds following the Arab teen's murder, and he has already begun preparing his appeals to the UN for recognition. So in the current situation, restraint will not suffice.

 

What is happening now may very well be an expression of what we refer to as "a third intifada." It must be clarified, however, that this intifada has been bubbling in the Judea and Samaria for a long time now, and that the teens' murder only led to a volcanic outburst of the popular uprising Abbas has been talking about for a long time, which is in fact that third intifada.

 


First published: 07.03.14, 10:25
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