Early Sunday morning, Oct. 11, the Palestinian campaign of terror took a sharp, dangerous turn: A female suicide bomber was stopped on her way to Jerusalem driving a vehicle packed with explosive. When a police van on the Maaleh Adummim road to Jerusalem ordered her to pull over for inspection, she threw an explosive device shouting Allah Akhbar! The policeman was hurt and she was badly injured.
The woman, 20, from Jebel Muqaber in Jerusalem, turned out to have been a suicide bomber on her way to carry out a multiple-casualty suicide attack in Jerusalem. She was stopped in time to avert a major disaster.
debkafile: This episode negated the theories advanced by Israeli government spokesmen that the current violence is mere “popular terror” waged spontaneously by individuals with no controlling hand behind it. As it unfolds, the campaign is shown to be orchestrated in escalating stages: first, weeks of throwing rocks and firebombs in Jerusalem, escalating to attacks in Judea and Samaria. Then, stage three, the use of firearms for clashes with security forces in Jerusalem and, stage four, inciting violent disturbances in Israeli Arab communities.
Stage five arrived Sunday: the onset of suicide bombing attacks for multiple Israel casualties, raising the specter of the second intifada (2000-2006). This form of terror demands planning, professionally contrived explosives and suicide bombers who are manipulated and act on orders. The woman must have left her home in Jerusalem a day or two earlier to meet her handlers who gave her the explosives with instructions on their use.
debkafile reported Saturday night:
After nearly a month of rampant Palestinian violence and murder, Israel’s leaders and its forces of law and order were Saturday, Oct. 10, fast approaching an unavoidable decision to impose a curfew on the Old City of Jerusalem – both to bring the stabbing attacks at every corner under control, and to isolate this source of contagion from the disorders spreading in the West Bank and across Israeli Arab coummunities.
Once a curfew is in place, the security authorities – whose forces are stretched to the limit by the multiple outbreaks proliferating across the country – will be able to deal quietly and systematically with the disorders.
A major hindrance until now has the refusal of the heads of government, especially Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon, to realistically appreciate the dynamic of the wave of terror, and their insistence on playing down its eruption in one place after another as random and uncontrolled.
They keep on harping on the incitement and lies spread by Mahmoud Abbas and radical Israeli Muslim leaders, although the street has since taken over.
Friday night, Ya’alon commented in a television interview that terrorists had committed “only” four fatal stabbings out of a population of four million.
This challenge was taken up with a vengeance. That night, Israeli Arabs staged riotous disturbances from northern Israel to the south, attacking security forces and blocking highway traffic on Routes 6, 444 and 65, with rocks and burning tires.
The following morning, the focus of violence switched back to Jerusalem and the Palestinians: A 16-year old Palestinian stabbed and badly injured two elderly religious Jews wrapped in prayer shawls.
He was shot dead when he brandished the knife against approaching police officers. A second Palestinian was killed after stabbing three police officers at Damascus Gate.
This sequence of events indicates that, while there is no single controlling hand behind them, they are nonetheless orchestrated in a way that keeps every Israeli constantly looking over his or her shoulder for fear of being taken off guard by the next attack – whether on an Israeli highway or town like Afula or Petach Tikva, or in Judea and Samaria. But Jerusalem remains the constant focal point because it is a powerful unifier.
Official Israeli spokesmen have tried relaying messages to Abbas and putting out reports that he has responded favorably to appeals. Saturday, Netanyahu asked US Secretary of State John Kerry to intercede with the Palestinian leader for help to quieten things down. However, none of the three, any more than Jordan’s Abdullah, holds the levers for controlling current events.
That is because they are being orchestrated to a large extent through messages of incitement and false inflammatory information which bounce back and forth between the cell phones and social media networks of young Palestinian and Israeli Arabs hungry for trouble.
In the latest example, the networks were flooded all day with calls to torpedo the international soccer match between Israel and Cyprus taking place Saturday night at the Teddy stadium in Jerusalem – even to setting the arena on fire.
This move had two objects: to dilute police strength in the Old City in order to reinforce security at the stadium and to terrify the public into staying away from the game.
Israel’s security authorities are finding they can no longer avoid stepped up measures, such as a curfew on the Old City of Jerusalem and blocking selected Palestinian cell phone networks and Internet connections and IPs of known inciters. This method was used by Turkish President Erdogan to stem the rising tide of opposition against him in 2014.
These measures are far from pleasant and will be frowned on by many people including Israelis. But they may possibly calm the turbulence and save Israeli and Palestinian lives.
Time is running out. Wednesday, Oct. 14, members of the Middle East Quartet are due to arrive in Israel. The Netanyahu government can’t afford to be found at a loss in the face of a major threat to its authority in Jerusalem. The ineffectual measures applied till now no longer serve.