After the Israeli cabinet launched measures Tuesday, Oct. 6, for “strengthening anti-terror defense” – such as cameras in the sky – and officials labored to spread word that the surge of Palestinian violence of the past week was beginning to ebb, Israel was hit that night from offside by a vicious pro-Palestinian upheaval in the Tel Aviv suburb of Jaffa. Hundreds of Israeli Arabs swarmed onto the streets to hurl rocks and burning containers at police, passing buses and Jews on the street. Six police officers were injured. Fired up by the radical Israeli Northern Muslim Movement, the rioters brandished Palestinian flags and yelled “Allah is Great!” and “With our blood we shall redeem Al Aqsa!”
The Army Radio Station studio was besieged for five hours.
At length, the police announced the disturbance had been brought to an end by negotiations with Arab community leaders in Jaffa.
That strategy was part and parcel of the efforts made by IDF officers to bring an end to the surge of Palestinian violence besetting Jerusalem and the West Bank through revived negotiations with Palestinian security chiefs and soothing rhetoric poured out for the public by government and military officials. But the gap between that rhetoric and the unruly situation on the ground was impossible to bridge. The rocks and firebombs kept on flying – even after three killer-terrorists' homes were demolished in Jerusalem Monday night.
Here too, the measure failed to impress as a deterrent because the punishment was meted out for terrorist crimes committed in 2014 and were therefore a year old – evidence of Israeli’s extremely slow response to murderous terror.
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu finds himself cornered by two conflicting crises. While facing popular demands to quell Palestinian violence that caused four Israeli deaths and 30 people injured during the High Festivals, he is confronted with a mutiny within the government coalition and his own Likud party. At least half a dozen ministers angrily reject the line taken by the prime minister and Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon for the past year – that the terror crisis must be handled “calmly and responsibly” – as nothing but softness on Palestinian terror.
Netanyahu has shot back by threatening to break up the government, which is less than a year old – either by inviting the opposition parties to join a new national unity government or calling a snap election.
This threat is fairly hollow. Replacing the mutinous ministers with members of the Labor opposition is a non-starter since its leader Yitzhak Herzog scarcely controls his own party. A coalition with Yair Lapid’s Future party and Avigdor Lieberman’s Yisrael Beitenu would be harder to control than the present lineup.
Netanyahu finds himself in this corner because he is handling the two crises by political means as part of the same problem.
This tactic is taken by Palestinian extremist leaders as a sign of Israeli weakness and encourages them to pour more fuel on the fire of anti-Israel violence. Ineffective measures, such as the cameras in the sky, which never worked on the 443 highway to Jerusalem, for instance, make things worse. The trickle of rockets from Gaza contradicts Ya’alon’s pledge to stop it. A proactive, creative hand against the escalating Palestinian violence would gain the support of all the ministers and ease the popular sense of pervasive insecurity.