Report: The Five Ways Israel Employs to Win the War on Lone-Wolf Terrorism

July 28, 2016

by: Ilse Posselt

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smuggled weapons seized by the IDF, July 2016

Prevent illegal gun production and smuggling, as above, the IDF seized these smuggled weapons in July 2016

Thursday, 28 July 2016 | The month of July has been a particularly bloody one for a number of countries in Europe. In Germany, four terror attacks in the last week alone claimed the lives of more than ten people, while France reeled in the wake of two acts of terror that left 85 dead.

The perpetrators in each of these attacks are known as lone-wolf terrorists—individuals who go out to kill and maim by themselves, independent of the command structure or support of an established terror group.

Yet while the phenomenon in Europe comes as an evil novelty, Israel has been forced to confront—and to a large extent, contain—the onslaught of lone-wolf terrorism for some time, writes Andrew Tobin in a recent analysis for The Times of Israel.

Since October 2016, Palestinian terrorists—often individual youngsters with no formal ties to an established armed group—have perpetrated more than 300 shootings, stabbings and car ramming attacks on Israelis, killing 38 and injuring 298. Due to the individualistic nature of these attacks, writes Tobin, some have dubbed the wave of terror the “Lone-Wolf Intifada (Uprising).”

Yet the tide of violence seems to be turning, he says, with the number of attacks for the month of June down to pre-terror wave days. Looking back over the past 10 months, Tobin offers five methods developed by the Israel Defense Force (IDF) BS employed to quench the violence.

1. Keep the terrorist groups out of it

Last week, a senior IDF officer briefed a group of reporters on the current security situation. The officer, who wished to remain anonymous due to the nature of his job, told the Israeli media that the reason behind the wave of attacks being perpetrated by lone-wolf terrorists was that the IDF had been successful in dealing with established terrorist groups.

Since the second intifada came to an end nearly fifteen years ago, the IDF has made great strides in identifying and dismantling terror cells managed by Hamas and other terrorist groups in Judea and Samaria, Shlomo Brom, a retired brigadier general and an analyst at Israel’s Institute for National Security Studies explained.

“Basically the terror networks are dismantled, and basically the security forces are dealing with maintenance,” Tobin quoted him as saying.

That does, however, not mean that terrorist groups have simply accepted defeat. “We are still having day-to-day indications of them trying to find people in [Judea and Samaria], fund them, give them weapons, give them explosives and tell them to shoot Jews,” Brom explains. “This has not changed.”

2.  Predict the unpredictable

As the so-called Lone-Wolf Intifada gathered momentum at the end of last year, the army started to develop a system aimed at dealing with the emerging new threat, the senior officer IDF officers told reporters during the briefing. The goal, Tobin writes, was to “predict the unpredictable,” for instance, when “a particular Palestinian youth might grab a knife from his mom’s kitchen and take to the streets to spill Israeli blood.”

The senior officer explained. “Unlike terrorists who belong to Hamas or the Islamic Jihad, if you get to their house the week before the attack, the kid does not know that he is a terrorist yet. That is the main challenge.”

The IDF’s response to the challenge was to develop an alert system based on the knowledge gained from previous attacks. The system, which is constantly being fine-tuned, functions through army analysts feeding into it large amounts of information—“a combination of social media, human intelligence [and] signal intelligence,” Tobin quoted the officer as saying. The output, he explained, is a “small number of alerts about potential future attacks.”

“One of the ways you produce an alert is, what are the last actions that a specific individual did,” the senior officer clarified. “For example, if he is exposed to incitement and right afterwards he rents a car, maybe an unregistered car; this raises questions.”

Responses to such an alert, Tobin writes, range from arrest, further monitoring, interventions via family and friends or dispatching the IDF to a possible target area.

3.  Target those who incite

Incitement to violence can take a number of forms: personal, via traditional media or through popular social channels. According to the senior army official, the terror organization, Hamas, shoulders the blame for the largest portion of incitement leveled against Israel.

“They create some of the memes of the high-level incitement, or the incitement which is very powerful that you see on the web,” Tobin quoted him as saying. “So when you handle most of the Hamas incitement, or when you stop some of the incitement from getting to social media, you also have less incitement by private people that are just sharing a specific post or adding incitement.”

4.  Close down illegal weapons production and smuggling

Although the Jewish state controls the borders of Judea and Samaria, the senior official explained, the last few years have seen weapons manufacturing in the territory “increase drastically,” with “hundreds of production centers” in the area, Tobin writes.

Over the past few months, the officer said, the IDF has, however, initiated a large-scale operation, which resulted in more than 20 production locations being uncovered and neutralized.

5.  Limit blowback

When all is said and done, Tobin reports, the IDF remains committed to “minimize its footprint on Palestinian society.” Such methods include a dedication to “arrest rather than kill attackers and would-be attackers,” and limit collective punishment.

“The more you can separate the public from the perpetrators, the better,” Brom explains.

The terror wave waning

According to Tobin, the IDF believes that a combination of these five methods has made great strides to “change the mentality of Palestinians in [Judea and Samaria], reducing the number of people willing to risk their lives to attack Israelis.

“We saw more and more people understanding that they do not achieve anything from this escalation, that it hurts them economically, that it does not help the condition of their lives, that it does not achieve anything on the national level,” the senior officer concluded.

Posted on July 28, 2016

Source: (Bridges for Peace, 28 July 2016)

Photo Credit: IDF blog

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