Israelis have absorbed the first shock of the wave of Palestinian terror unleashed in the last two weeks. The Palestinians are likely absorbing the package of tough penalties for terror and deterrents the Netanyahu government began putting together Tuesday night. Wednesday, Oct. 14, saw relative calm after the deadly violence reached a new peak Tuesday with the first Palestinian shooting attack on a Jerusalem bus – this time by adults.
The relative lull is expected to last only until the Palestinians and their Israeli Arab supporters take stock, before inevitably launching their next round of terror.
Meanwhile, Jerusalem saw “only” two stabbing attacks. In the first, a terrorist wearing army fatigues tried to stab a Border Guardsman at Nablus Gate in Jerusalem, and was shot and killed by policemen and visitors. Two hours later, another terrorist attacked a woman bus passenger at the city’s central station. A police special ops officer ran after him up and shot him dead.
One of the counter-terror measures that went into effect Wednesday morning was the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Security Committee’s approval of Emergency Order 8 authorizing the mobilization of an additional 600 Border Guards combatants from the reserves, over and above the 800 already called up.
debkafile’s military experts note that the rapid processing of this new intake with equipment and operational orders will reduce the need to detach from their regular duties the 500 IDF soldiers allocated for manning the streets of Jerusalem.
That is all to the good, because managing police officers and soldiers in harness is bound to be problematic.
Israel is not the first country to inject military strength into its capital to fight terror. The British and French governments have been known to deploy paratroops and armed personnel carriers into the streets of London and Paris when they were beset by a rising level of terror. This deployment never lasted more than a few days – just enough to calm a terrified citizenry.
But Jerusalem is different. The state of security is such that soldiers once in place may face a long-term stay in the capital to contend with a long-running security threat.
Another difficulty is that the soldiers assigned to this mission have been pulled out of tank, artillery and engineering courses with no training for combating urban terror. Those who come from outside the city will furthermore need to familiarize themselves with a new environment and its rhythms.
The Jerusalem Police are special. They must cope with complex, demanding and multi-tasking challenges to the town’s security. More than one terror attack may take place at different parts of the city. Unlike ordinary soldiers, they are trained and have the experience to quickly spot and take action against a terrorist in ordinary clothes who may pop up suddenly from among a large crowd to sow death.
A seasoned police officer can judge when to cut the assailant down to save lives and when to arrest him.
But the IDF servicemen to be recruited for anti-terror duties in support of security forces are much younger than the average policeman – on average around nineteen years old. Their firearms and kits are designed for conventional warfare on the Golan in the north or the Gaza Strip in the south – not for securing civilian buses or heavy vehicular and pedestrian traffic in a crowded city center.
That Border Guards reservists were hastily mobilized at the same time as the military units indicates that someone had the sense to understand that the presence of IDF troops on the streets and buses was good psychological first aid for people jumping at shadows for fear of a lone terrorist, but hardly an effective operational arm for the war on terror.