As has become my practice of late, I’m going to start with a good news item, saving the somber stuff for later. Here we have a brief video that should put a smile on your face and a touch of hope in your heart:
We had better hold fast to that hope, because there’s a whole lot that is very ugly facing us at the same time. In recent weeks, we have seen an increase in the number of attacks in Judea and Samaria, and Jerusalem:
- Early last week, outside the Damascus Gate of the Old City of Jerusalem, a terrorist critically stabbed a border police officer in the neck and chest. The officer, in spite of his wounds, managed to shoot the terrorist before collapsing.
- Last Saturday night, terrorists shot at a civilian ambulance traveling on a road adjacent to Beit El, in Samaria. Bullets hit the vehicle, but thank Heaven no one was injured.
- Then Monday, a woman soldier at a checkpoint outside of Rachel’s Tomb, which is near Bethlehem in Judea, was stabbed in the neck several times by a knife-wielding female terrorist. The soldier (shown below with the prime minister and minister of defense) was seriously wounded but has stabilized. The terrorist was found to be carrying two knives in addition to the one she used. She told the Shin Bet that she had come to that checkpoint to kill a soldier.
- This was followed by another incident Monday night, when terrorists fired upon a car near Shvut Rachel, in the Binyamin area of Samaria. Four people were wounded, one critically.
The young man who was critically injured in the Shvut Rachel attack, Malachi Rosenfeld, 26, of Kochav Hashachar, succumbed to his wounds the following day. At his funeral, yesterday, his father sang a heart-rending song of faith:
“Even in the most concealed of concealed moments, certainly G-d, blessed be He`1, is also found there.
“Even behind the most difficult things that happen to you, He (still) stands, He stands – and we will stand, we will stand with G-d.”
Once again, I am awed by the strength of a grieving parent. The video:
And what is thought to be the reason for this increase in violence?
That is, the Islamic holy month that we are in the midst of right now. Fasting is required from sunup to sundown. This is supposed to be a time for spirituality and introspection, traditionally marking the receiving of the Koran by Muhammad.
However, Ramadan is typically accompanied by increased violence (called Ramadan rage), including Muslim on Muslim violence and a spike in crimes. There are different explanations I’ve encountered, but the most frequent one is that the day-time fasting repeated day after day takes a toll on the body and makes people respond more irritably.
My thought: there is irritable and then there is violent. Physical stress leads to violence in this context, it seems to me, because we are talking about an essentially violent culture.
And what does Israel institute before the beginning of Ramadan?
“Good will gestures,” such as removing checkpoints to make it easier for people to get the Temple Mount for prayers. There was even a decision to allow buses from Ramallah and Bethlehem to take people straight to the Old City.
Isn’t that nice of us?
Are we crazy?
Because of rockets launched from Gaza recently, a decision to allow 500 Arabs from Gaza to travel to the Temple Mount over Ramadan was revoked.
Now Minister Naftali Bennett is calling on Netanyahu to “cancel the exemptions granted to the Palestinians for Ramadan as they have become life threatening…Bayit Yehudi will not ignore the murder of Jews.”
I totally concur with him here. And so do a majority of Israelis, according to a recent poll: 51% want to remove leniencies for Palestinian Arabs with regard to their freedom of movement.
I find that members of Habayit Hayehudi – Bennett and others – most frequently advance positions that project clarity regarding our need to protect ourselves.
Minister Uri Ariel called on the prime minister to take more stringent action in the face of terror:
“The terrorist organizations must receive the message that the blood of Israeli citizens, especially residents of Judea and Samaria, cannot be shed with impunity.”
And MK Bezalel Smotrich declared,
“Too many steps have been taken to improve the lives of the Palestinian population at the expense of Israeli citizens.”
And yet there is something else Bennett said that troubles me:
He called for government approval “for construction in Judea and Samaria and strengthening of the settlements.”
Clearly, I am not opposed to construction in Judea and Samaria. But this should be advanced as a matter of right, and not presented after terror attacks as a sort of retribution. Building as a punishment for terror gives the wrong message.
Egypt yesterday endured an enormous blow when an affiliate of ISIS, located in the northern Sinai, attacked in at least 15 different locations simultaneously, killing some 100 people, including 50 security personnel.
Egypt’s battle is hardly over yet, and what goes on in the Sinai impinges directly on Israel: ISIS is at our door. We are solidly with Egypt in this fight, and have given permission for Egyptian forces in excess of what is permitted by treaty to enter the Sinai.
There are indications that radical forces in Gaza are cooperating with ISIS, and there are weighty ramifications in this regard as well.
The Israeli borders with the Sinai and Gaza have been closed.
Hamas is known to be attempting to rebuild its strength in Judea and Samaria, after it was severely weakened by the IDF last summer. In recent comments, Defense Minister Ya’alon confirmed this fact, saying that Hamas had outside support, including from Iran:
“There’s Iranian funding. [Ayatollah Ali] Khamenei has declared that terrorists in Judea and Samaria must be funded and armed.”
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