Photo: Yossi Ben Nun
Young female terrorist after stabbing attack in Jerusalem, Monday
Photo: Yossi Ben Nun
Alex Fishman

The intifada of the young and hopeless

Analysis: The young male and female murderers flooding Israel's streets are not lunatics from the margins of the Palestinian society; they are part of an army of unemployed academics and hopeless high school students who could care less about the regional political problems.

There is no calm and rational solution to the "intifada of the young," which has been taking place here for nearly a month. As bad as it may sound, the current wave of terror can only be stopped by using force, a lot of force.



I am not talking about occupying the West Bank or imposing a general siege on the territories. This fire can be suffocated by flooding the ground with forces, regular presence in centers of friction and sensitive sites, wide-scale arrests of rioters and heavy punishment, including of the parents of the minors involved in the acts of violence.


Sisyphean persistence, over a long period of time, with these aggressive moves may eventually suffocate the fire - but it won't put out the sizzling embers which will break out again every time someone adds fuel.


This intifada is being led by young men and women under the age of 20, who are going out on the streets to murder Jews. The possibility that they themselves will get killed plays no major part in their calculations, as the chance of becoming a national hero and gaining appreciation from their immediate surroundings is much more alluring to them.


A 16-year-old Palestinian boy preparing to stab passersby at Damascus Gate in Jerusalem on Saturday. The current wave of terror can only be stopped with a lot of force (Photo: Zipi Malkov)
A 16-year-old Palestinian boy preparing to stab passersby at Damascus Gate in Jerusalem on Saturday. The current wave of terror can only be stopped with a lot of force (Photo: Zipi Malkov)


Here, however, we are finding it difficult to accept the fact that the outburst of hatred and anger among this layer of young men and women in Palestinian society cannot be stopped at once. It's hard for us to understand that it's not "only" an outburst over political distress, which will disappear if we force the Palestinian Authority to order them to stop, or if we reach some kind of agreement with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to resume the talks.


Some kind of solution regarding the Temple Mount won't guarantee immediate calm, either, as the "intifada of the young" has put on the streets, in the meantime, only representatives of the huge army of unemployed people living in the territories.


We are talking about hundreds of thousands of young people, mostly educated, many of them academics, who don’t work and walk around bored, poisoned, without any hope on the horizon.


The dry statistics point to 31.4 percent of young people in the Palestinian Authority who are not part of any system, but the real rate is likely higher. These academics, who have failed to find proper jobs in the PA, work in agriculture and construction, increasing the sense that their lives are worthless. And this abscess, which has been festering for years, is now bursting on our streets.


Meanwhile, Israel and the PA are trying to prevent wider circles from joining the wave of violence. Israel is therefore still providing laborers with entry permits and avoiding imposition of economic sanctions on the West Bank, setting up roadblocks or imposing sieges and curfews. The pattern is to create a distinction between the rioters and the rest of the population in the West Bank.


The stabbers and murderers flooding the streets are not lunatics from the margins of society. Nearly all of them are under 20 years old, high school and university students, without a record of security offenses. This bomb was created by years of neglect in the PA and by Israeli disregard.


They couldn’t care less about the PA, which used the billions it received from the world to grease the palms of the administration and security mechanisms in order to maintain their loyalty. They are not go out on the streets to stab because of the regional political problems. While the damage to national dignity on the Temple Mount is a key reason for the events, for these young people it mainly serves as an engine pushing them to blow up on police officers, soldiers and Israeli citizens.


It's starting to look like sacrifice attacks, as only some 50 percent of the young murderers remain alive. The young Palestinians in 2015 are not like the previous generations. They are much more aware of their abilities, their rights, the international support for their struggle. The calls for calm issued by Abbas and members of his security organizations and Israel's threats don’t have a particular effect on the ground, as these young people have gone out to kick the establishments - the Palestinians and the Israelis. They may be stabbing Israelis, but they despise the PA.


This phenomenon of an army of unemployed youngsters is well known on the ground. Professionals in the defense establishment have been following it, writing about it, warning about it for years, but no one - neither in Israel nor in the PA - has done anything about it. After all, this requires a long-term process with huge investments, and who in the Middle East has time to invest in long-term processes?


This army has a lot of strength. More than 200,000 students study in the academic institutions in Gaza and the West Bank. Every year, 40,000 complete a bachelor's degree. Most of them will not fulfill their dream. Several thousand will find work in the PA. The others will settle for physical unskilled labor for meager salaries. The majority won't do anything.


Thirty-six percent of the West Bank's youth have a high school education or more. Eleven percent have at least a bachelor's degree. In Gaza, the level of education is even higher: Forty-five percent have a high school education or more, and more than 14 percent have a bachelor's degree. In the West Bank, almost 30 percent of the 19-24 age group are unemployed. In Gaza, their rate reaches 63 percent.


This bustling explosive cannot be stopped at once. It has serious ramifications on the Palestinian society as well. The crime rate in this society, mainly in Gaza, is reaching dimensions which have not been seen before in their extent and severity. The speech Benjamin Netanyahu delivered at the Knesset on Monday - in which he called on the Arab public to look at the consequences of the Arab Spring in the neighboring countries compared to its wonderful situation here - demonstrates that the prime minister and those surrounding him don’t realize, and don’t really care about, what is really happening in the Palestinian society.


One of the scenarios for the breakout of a general intifada on the ground, which the army exercised recently, describes an outburst as a result of lone wolves' terror in huge dimensions and in an intensity we have yet to experience, but we are definitely headed in that direction.


So the necessary thing to do is to immediately, aggressively curb this violence. And in order to curb what is happening in the West Bank, we must stop the growing wave of riots and stabbings among Israel's Arabs. Here Israel has more leverages of pressure and an ability to influence.


Stopping the riots in the Arab sector will make it possible to divert thousands of police officers to Jerusalem and to the Jerusalem vicinity. We need them there in order to prevent a regional flare-up.


פרסום ראשון: 10.14.15, 08:42
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