And I do not think the world ever will, for we are an extraordinary people.
These are tough times here in Israel, as we confront horrendous terrorism.
And what we have seen in the past several days are instances of remarkable courage and strength – positive thinking in horrendous circumstances ‒ exhibited by those who have suffered the effects of that terrorism.
When Shira Ish-Ran went in to the neonatal intensive care unit to hold her dying son, she said:
“…I will show them. I will bring many more babies into the world. Am Yisrael Chai.” (The People Israel lives.)
Shira and her husband Amichai subsequently held a press conference in Shaarei Zedek hospital, where they are both recovering. They offered words of gratitude for the great outpouring of support they have received. Shira observed,
“I am so proud to be a part of this people,”
and then said:
“I lost a great deal of blood in the terror attack, and I needed a lot of blood transfusions. I feel like the blood of the entire Jewish people is flowing through me, strengthening me with every step…” (Emphasis added throughout.)
Then there is Rabbi Eliyahu Merav. He is the step-father of IDF soldier Yosef Cohen, who was shot dead at close quarter by a terrorist outside of Givat Assaf last week (emphasis added):
“Yosef was a pure soul, genuine, and beautiful. He was a sacrifice for all of Israel. We sent him to the army as a messenger for the family.
“We believe in this kind of work. He observed the Torah completely, but he understood, as we understand, that in this country, unfortunately, we need a very strong army.
“Unfortunately, we have enemies who want to kill us, literally. They don’t understand that the nation of Israel is everlasting. Nobody can destroy us.”
The rabbi shared a memory from Yossi’s very last Shabbat with the family:
“Sweet Yossi, righteous, holy Yossi, may he rest in peace, said ‘I thank God for the merit He has given me to defend the Jewish people with my body.’”
Sgt. Yosef Cohen (to the left below) was one of two members of the haredi (ultra-Orthodox) Netzah Yehuda battalion who were killed by the terrorist last week. The other was Staff. Sgt Yovel Mor Yosef. At the time I wrote, their identities had not yet been publicized.
I had been under the impression that the two people wounded in that same attack were both civilians, but I was mistaken. Shira Sabag, of Beit El, indeed is a civilian, but Natanel Felber, who is in very critical condition, in a coma, is part of the same battalion. His parents are asking for prayers for him: Netanel Ilan ben Shayna Tzipora.
Since that attack there was another, in the community of Beit El, on Friday. A Palestinian Arab infiltrated the community, stabbed a soldier, Naveh Rotem, and then bashed his head with a large rock. Rotem’s condition has improved and he is now listed as “moderate.” The Arab has turned himself in, apparently because he knew the IDF was closing in on him.
The perpetrators of the drive-by shooting at Givat Assaf, however, have not yet been apprehended. They will be. An extensive search operation is in process, in and around Ramallah.
In the course of scouring the area, the IDF has arrested a number of terrorists, most of them Hamas.
It has been determined that the two terror attacks, at Ofra and at nearby Givat Assaf, were carried out by the same Hamas cell, managed by the Barghouti clan (hamula). Saleh Omar Barghouti, who was identified as having carried out the Ofra attack, was located by the IDF and shot dead last Wednesday; he is the son of local Hamas leader Omar Barghouti.
On Saturday night, Mohammed Maher Barghouti was arrested. He is the brother of Marwan Barghouti, who is serving multiple life sentences in an Israeli prison.
On Sunday, Ismail Haniyeh, Hamas leader in Gaza, in the course of a speech he gave celebrating Hamas’s 31st anniversary, said (emphasis added):
“I will also respond to the Zionists who are saying what is happening in the West Bank is based on directives and arrangements from Gaza. This is an accusation we do not deny… because it is a source of pride reigning over all of us.”
While earlier this month, former head of the Hamas politburo Khalid Mashaal called for Arabs in Judea and Samaria to prepare for “guerilla warfare” to force a “retreat” of Israelis, and ultimately “liberation” of all of Palestine.
Dr. Barak Ben-Zur, an expert in strategic intelligence and counter-terrorism and former head of the Shin Bet Intelligence and Research Division, believes that Hamas has decided to keep matters quiet in Gaza and instead open up a new front in Judea and Samaria.
On Sunday, at the weekly Cabinet meeting, Prime Minister/Defense Minister Netanyahu said:
“I conveyed a clear message to Hamas — we won’t accept a situation of a truce in Gaza and terror in Judea and Samaria…we will exact a high price for them.”
But I think something has changed here in Israel: The people are no longer comforted by tough words spoken by our leaders. Only decisive and speedy action will make a difference.
What price are we going to exact?
While that Cabinet meeting was being held inside, demonstrators were gathered outside the prime minister’s office. “We are done being silent!” they said.
They want an end to weakness in dealing with terrorism and a strengthening of Judea and Samaria communities. “Enough abandonment – we want normalization.”
Minister Naftali Bennett (Chair, Bayit Yehudi), speaking at the rally, said (emphasis added):
“…The prime minister promised two weeks ago to return the force to the IDF, and it still hasn’t happened. He promised to demolish the homes of terrorists, but 106 homes still haven’t been demolished. I call out to the prime minister, you promised – now fulfill.”
Similarly, at the press conference held with Shira and Amichai Is-Ran, their fathers took the opportunity to address the prime minister. Shira’s father, Chaim Silberstein, said:
“These attacks cannot be allowed to become part of daily life. These vile people need to get a message: 1,000 times what they give us…
“We want not just words from the prime minister, but also concrete action.”
While Amichai’s father, Rabbi Rafael Ish-Ran, said:
“We need to change the record. We are in a war with terror and need to act as one acts in war…We are not asking much, simply to live and not be murdered…”
At present the IDF is taking strong action in Judaea and Samaria, with on-going arrests and troops reinforcement, drawing on soldiers from the Golani and Nahal Brigades. But what will happen after the perpetrators of the Givat Assaf attack have been caught and the area seems quieter on the surface?
Under that surface Hamas will still be lurking and planning. And so, if our government is serious, continued reinforcement of troops and extreme vigilance in patrolling and arresting Hamas terrorists will continue to be necessary for the foreseeable future. There will need to be a considerable IDF presence in all areas of Judaea and Samaria.
And that is just the beginning, because there is still the issue of how to contend with Hamas inside of Gaza.
A considerable number of political analysts have become convinced that the increased Hamas violence in Judaea and Samaria has been motivated and funded by the $15 million in Qatari funds that Israel has permitted to go in (twice now). Those funds were supposed to bring quiet. Inciting terrorism in Judaea and Samaria is not “quiet.”
Netanyahu has said Hamas cannot have “truce” in Gaza and terror in Judaea and Samaria. Does he mean this? Will he now have the backbone to stop those payments, even if Jared Kushner, Egypt, the EU and others would like them to continue?
Minister Naftali Bennett and MK Motti Yogev (both of Bayit Yehudi) have for months been promoting legislation that would permit families of terrorists to be removed from their homes and relocated in another area of Judaea and Samaria within seven days of an attack. The thought is that this creates deterrence because potential terrorists might be dissuaded by realization that they would be upsetting their families.
(Note to my readers who might ask about this: deporting them all together would be much more difficult to accomplish.)
The legislation had been delayed at the request of the prime minister. Now Bennett instructed Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked to convene the Ministerial Committee for Legislation and approve the law. This is a first step, as the legislation must now move to the Knesset.
The attorney-general has declared himself opposed to this legislation. Tilting left, he is opposed to a good deal.
During his faction meeting today, Monday, Netanyahu said:
“The expulsion of [families of] terrorists is an effective tool, and in my opinion, its benefit is greater than its damage. The legal experts say that this is contrary to…law as it is defined, and this will certainly be legally challenged later, but I have no doubt about the effectiveness of this tool.”
How about that? I would say that Netanyahu has seen the electoral handwriting on the wall.
And then there is the issue of positive steps forward to increase Jewish presence in Judaea and Samaria. There is much that is in process now, and I will be tracking achievement. Will Netanyahu be promoting and endorsing these efforts?
On Sunday the Ministerial Committee for Legislation also approved legislation that would legalize within two years 70 outposts in Judaea and Samaria that are on state land, either as new communities or new neighborhoods of existing communities. Givat Assaf is one of those outposts.
This is privately sponsored legislation – advanced by MK Bezalel Smotrich (Bayit Yehudi) and MK Yoav Kisch (Likud), chairs of the Knesset Land of Israel Caucus. It, too, must be advanced to the Knesset.
The goal is to ensure that all outposts are legalized regardless of the government stance. During the course of the two years, the government would be required to treat the outposts as if they were already authorized, with regard to such matters as providing utilities. And it would halt enforcement of all actions against the outposts during that time.