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Intifada Rising?

January 6, 2023

by: Kate Norman, BFP Staff Writer

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As the battle for Israel’s heartland rages on, the Jewish state’s security forces are working to curb a wave of terrorism as multiple players battle for the Palestinian throne.

A terror wave that began last March and spread across Israel has left 29 people dead at the time of writing, the highest casualty count since 2008, i24news noted. The carnage sparked the Israel Defense Forces’ (IDF’s) Operation Break the Wave at the end of March, consisting of near nightly counterterror raids.

Israel’s Channel 12 news reported at the end of November that the Shin Bet internal security organization as well as the IDF warned a Knesset (Parliament) panel to expect a security escalation over the next few months.

The Northern Lightning Rod

Northern Samaria appears to be the hotbed of terrorism, particularly Jenin and Nablus, or biblical Shechem—where God promised Abram that He would give the Land to his descendants, where Jacob purchased a parcel of land to dwell after making peace with Esau and where the ancient Israelites laid Joseph’s bones to rest after completing their Exodus.

Now, out of Shechem, in response to Operation Break the Wave, the Lion’s Den terrorist group has sprung. And more terrorist groups continue emerging—including the Nablus Battalion and the Jenin-based Wasp’s Nest—seemingly faster than Israeli security forces can quash them.

As of November, the IDF and Shin Bet had conducted over 2,500 arrests throughout 2022, the Times of Israel reported, focusing largely on Nablus and Jenin.

The Enemy Within

Armed terrorists, however, are often ready and waiting for the Israeli soldiers, resulting in clashes in which over 150 Arabs have been killed—most while attacking Israeli forces. These fighters are hailed by many of their Arab brethren as heroic martyrs, further fanning the flames of what they call the “resistance.”

The IDF announced on November 30 that it is establishing a new battalion that will be stationed along security barriers in Judea and Samaria, the so-called West Bank. Previously, reserve units were patrolling the border. Now, the 49th Panther Battalion, part of the Border Defense Corps, will permanently take over the job.

Protecting the security barriers is an important task. Three of the six attacks during a terror spree that lasted from March 22 to May 5 and resulted in 19 deaths were carried out by terrorists who entered Israel illegally from the Palestinian-governed parts of Judea and Samaria. These attacks included a shooting in Bnei Brak in which five people were killed and a shooting outside a Tel Aviv bar that saw three murdered. Two terrorists also entered Israel illegally and executed a terror attack in Elad on May 5, killing three, which they said was motivated by their belief that Israel is harming Muslim worshipers at the Al-Aqsa Mosque.

In fact, the Temple Mount in the Old City of Jerusalem—where the First and Second Temples once stood and where the Al-Aqsa Mosque now stands—is a prevalent trigger point. Hamas, the Palestinian Authority (PA) and other terror groups often invoke Al-Aqsa in calling for violence, even fabricating lies of Jewish worshipers storming and violating the mosque compound in order to stoke rage and fuel terror attacks.

The Shadow of the Intifadas

Many Israelis remember when regular daily activities such as riding a bus or going to a pizza parlor could at any moment turn into a nightmare, with frequent bombings throughout the First Intifada or uprising (1987–1993) and Second Intifada (2000–2005).

As if relapsing to the Intifada days, the normal morning rush hour turned deadly on November 23, 2022, when terrorists detonated explosions at two busy bus stations in northern Jerusalem, killing two people—including a 16-year-old boy—and injuring 22 more.

Less than a week later, the Shin Bet announced they had arrested suspects, reportedly residents of eastern Jerusalem who were not affiliated with a particular terror group.

A Hamas spokesperson was nonetheless quick to praise the terror attack and warn that “the coming days will be intense and more difficult for the enemy. The time has come for the creation of cells that are spread all over Palestine and are ready for a confrontation.”

Indoctrination and Disillusionment

The future looks grim based on how the next generation of Palestinians are being groomed for bloodshed. From United Nation-sponsored textbooks rife with anti-Semitism and rewriting history to children in Nablus buying necklaces with their favorite terrorists’ faces on them, young Palestinians are being raised for jihad, Islamic war with unbelievers.

And the popularity of the emerging terror groups, particularly the Lion’s Den, highlights the crumbling popularity and stability of the PA. Once the solid leader of the nearly three million Arabs living in Judea and Samaria, the PA is now on the brink of collapsing, Shin Bet chief Ronen Bar warned in November.

The collapse of the PA would greatly deteriorate the security situation in Israel’s biblical heartland, Bar warned, as Jerusalem and the PA often coordinate on security issues and maintain a tentative balance in the region.

The PA, chaired by 87-year-old President Mahmoud Abbas, has for years been mismanaging its power with greed and corruption, causing young Palestinians to grow disillusioned with the old guard and look to other power players—Hamas and the emerging terrorist groups—who promise stronger action against their shared perceived enemy: Israel.

Looking Back and Ahead

Several factors contributed to the conclusion of the Second Intifada, Jonathan Schachter writes in “The End of the Second Intifada?” The IDF launched Operation Defensive Shield, which saw Israeli soldiers reentering major Arab cities like Bethlehem, Jenin, Nablus and Ramallah—though the number of terror attacks initially spiked after the start of the operation before petering out. The IDF also conducted targeted killings of Hamas terror chiefs, cutting the head off the snake. The Israeli presence in Arab-controlled cities also allowed for more security intelligence, thus thwarting planned attacks.

Another major factor, Schachter noted, was the completion of security barriers throughout Judea and Samaria in 2004, blocking entry into Israel for suicide bombers and reducing the bombings by half. And in 2005–2006, the power struggle between Hamas and Fatah (leading secular Palestinian political party) came to a head and resulted in Hamas’s violent expulsion of Fatah from Gaza in 2007 Afterwards, Schachter noted, Hamas likely wanted to focus on solidifying its power hold over the people rather than provoking further conflict with the Israeli military.

Now, as the old Hamas–PA rivalry re-emerges, Israeli security forces appear to be utilizing tried and tested tactics to break the terror wave before it sparks into a Third Intifada by continuing another assertive operation in Judea and Samaria as well as strengthening the security barrier between the volatile region and Israel. But only time will tell whether it will be enough—or whether grassroots Palestinian frustration and the power struggle between competing terror groups will boil into another dreaded period of violence and bloodshed.

Photo Credit: Click on photo to see photo credit

Photo License: Brother's Keeper Operation in Judea & Samaria

Photo License: Operation "Breaking Dawn"

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