The accumulation of the attacks on Tuesday - in Jaffa, Jerusalem and Petach Tikva - is the exception that proves the rule. It proves one thing - that the willingness of young Palestinians to carry out suicide missions has not subsided. For over five months, this willingness has been accompanying us in daily attacks in cities, at intersections in the West Bank, at the gates of the Old City of Jerusalem, and in the settlements. The IDF, Shin Bet and the police were able to foil terror attacks here and there, but have failed to neutralize the threat.
Decision-makers are secretly hoping that this threat will fade away on its own. That the Palestinian street grows weary of applauding suicides; that parents intervene; that the youth will catch on to another trend that is less deadly. More than five months have passed, and there is no sign that this hope will indeed come true. On the contrary, young people continue to take to the streets like clockwork, every day has its attacker, who are armed with a knife or an improvised rifle and a desire for revenge that cannot be quenched.
These aren't the suicide bombers who carried out bus bombings in the 90s and during the second intifada. That generation of terrorists lived under the illusion that Allah is waiting for them in paradise, surrounded by 72 virgins. Behind every suicide attack was a campaign of convincing led by a terror organization. The current generation of attackers, however, is disillusioned and aimless. The fight for control over the Temple Mount, which put a religious spin on the first few weeks of terror attacks, was pushed to the side. Despair - that is the motive, the urge, the explanation. Private despair - sometimes over strife in the family, national despair, generational despair - each manifesting itself separately and all together.
There is no justification for terrorism, no moral or practical justification. But if we wish to deal with this wave of terror attacks, stop it or mitigate it, we can’t settle for oratory. It's important to understand that there is no magic military solution that would return the knives into the kitchen drawers. It's important to understand that draconian punishments for uninvolved people, such as Minister Katz's proposal du jour to expel relatives of terrorists to Gaza, will not prevent the next attack, they will only get Israel in trouble with the international justice system. The applauses at the Likud's central committee are not worth it.
We need to find ways to wear down the despair, to confuse it. Providing the Palestinians with a better livelihood is a good way: Palestinians who work will steer clear of terrorism like the plague. Cabinet ministers are fighting against any attempt to increase the number of work permits. This is folly. On the other hand, we need to do much more to reduce the number of illegal aliens, including imposing severe penalties on Jewish employers.
The Palestinian Authority's security services cooperate with Israel: it's in their best interest. But we have failed to create a similar interest in other PA institutions, primarily in the education system. Incitement at schools and in textbooks has an effect. One can try and curb it.
Unfortunately, we can't do much to prevent incitement on social networks or on TV channels: Israel has no influence on their operators and blocking them creates legal issues (the most influential channel in the territories is Hamas’ Al-Aqsa channel. It is broadcast from Gaza, but goes through Paris and from there via satellite. Israel can’t touch it.)
In light of the continued terror attacks, the government entrenches itself behind its own righteousness, exhortations, self-pity, and victimhood. Had a centrist government been in power in Israel today, the right wing would have been rejoicing in its failure to stop the bloody attacks. It's not a reason to rejoice a right-wing government's failures. The government should take its head out of the sand, stop looking for someone to blame and start working. It is difficult, but not impossible.