Perhaps it should not be unexpected, for there is frequently an increase in attacks before Purim, which comes later this week.
But one can hope. And one still feels punched in the stomach at the news of yet another attack.
I begin with what is most important: a request for prayers for the recovery of Rabbi Ahiad Ettinger – Ahiad Ehud ben Carmit.
The good rabbi, age 47, and the father of 12 (the youngest a mere one year old), is a resident of the community of Eli, and heads the Oz V’Emunah Hesder Yeshiva in south Tel Aviv. (A hesder yeshiva combines religious text study and military service.) He is much loved by his students and the community near the yeshiva, where he does outreach.
Rabbi Ettinger was critically wounded in a terror attack this morning and as I write, the doctors are still working to save his life.
The attack began before 10 AM at the Ariel junction in the Shomron. A Palestinian Arab approached a soldier and lethally stabbed him, grabbed his rifle, and turned it on him.
The soldier has been identified as Staff Sgt. Gal Keidan, 19, from Be’ersheva. He served in the 334th artillery battalion.
The terrorist then turned the rifle on passing cars, wounding Rabbi Ettinger in the head in the course of the attack. Soldiers in the area shot at the terrorist but did not succeed in bringing him down.
Commandeering one of those passing cars, the Arab drove to the nearby Gitai Avishar junction. There he began to shoot again, wounding a 19-year old before escaping. That victim, whose name has not been released, is in serious condition. He sustained abdominal and spinal injuries that required surgery.
The terrorist – or possibly two as one witness identified the presence of a second person in the car – fled into the nearby Arab village of Burqin, leaving the car at the entrance to the village. Massive numbers of Israeli security forces – IDF, Shin Bet and Israel Police – are currently conducting a search.
When last I wrote, I said that in my next posting I would share some good news. But such promises can be unrealistic. It is often the practice of religious people to say bli neder (literally, without a vow) when making a promise, and I begin to wonder if I should include this in my writing on occasion: for, whatever my intentions, bad news intervenes.
The good news is still there, and I hope I can write about it before Purim. But now, I am anxious to get this out, first, because of the request for prayers.
And then because I understand that this news is not likely to be shared in main stream media outside of Israel. And so, I feel a responsibility to write quickly, and ask you to share the information.
There are many questions being asked as to what transpired, allowing the terrorist to escape from the scene. There are charges, serious charges, regarding the reluctance of soldiers to shoot sometimes because of possible legal repercussions, as well as about our reluctance to truly be tough in combatting terrorism. I mention this here and will return to consider these issues in further detail. (All emphasis below added.)
Said Naftali Bennett, head of the New Right, in a press conference with Ayelet Shaked:
“The IDF does not issue a demolition order because a person was only seriously injured and was not killed because the IDF knows that the High Court of Justice will throw it out. This is the Israel of 2019, and this is the result of legalization that permeated deeply into all the government systems, especially the defense establishment. IDF soldiers think five times before they shoot terrorists, for fear they will be tried.
“The time has come to say honestly: The High Court of Justice ties the hands of IDF soldiers to defeat terror, and in order to defeat Hamas, the IDF must be freed from the High Court of Justice.
“The time has come to put the right of life of the Israelis above the human right of the terrorists.”
Bezalel Smotrich, head of Bayit Yehudi, who agrees about the “excess of legalism” in the IDF, charged that it is time to take down the Palestinian Authority:
“The Palestinian Authority (PA), which supports and encourages terror, needs to be brought down – not fixed up. The Oslo mindset which turned the PA into a terror-combating contractor of the IDF has cost us too much blood. It’s time we gave it up.”
Binyamin Regional Council Chair Yisrael Gantz issued a similar call that pretty much summarizes the issue:
“We demand the Prime Minister tell the IDF to deal with the root of the terrorist infrastructure…We trust the security forces to succeed in this task, if they are allowed to do it.”
After news of the terror attack reached Gaza today, people celebrated in the streets, passing out candies and pastries. This is not a new phenomenon, but it is something people need to be made aware of.
Just minutes after I sent out my last posting, news broke about two Fajr rockets that had been shot at Tel Aviv. This is considered an escalation – the first time that the Tel Aviv area was targeted since 2014, during the last war. The IDF responded by hitting 100 targets in Gaza overnight, holding Hamas responsible for the rockets in spite of the Hamas denial. An additional nine rockets were launched from Gaza into the area adjacent late Thursday and early Friday.
The situation waxed more than a bit confusing in the day or two thereafter.
First, the IDF apparently acknowledged at some point that the launching of the rockets may have been an “accident,” although it is not clear to me how one “accidentally” launches Fajr rockets.
And then, for the first time in close to a year, the organizers of the weekly riots at the fence, referred to as the Great March of Return, announced the cancellation of Friday’s border protests, allegedly to focus on the upcoming one-year activities, March 30. Whether this came as a result of the attack in Gaza or heavy pressure from an Egyptian security delegation is not clear.
And finally, with regard to Har Habayit (Temple Mount):
On Friday, following prayers, an Arab mob rioting on the Mount ripped the doors off the building in the Golden Gate compound that is being claimed by the Islamic Wakf.
The fact that a Palestinian Authority flag was then raised on the roof reinforces the fact that we are looking at a challenge to Israeli sovereignty.
The Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court has ordered the continued closure of the compound. The Islamic Wakf Authority has been given 60 days to respond. Do not hold your breath. They work via violence and international public opinion, not compliance with an Israeli court.
It is essential that we stand strong here.
© Arlene Kushner. This material is produced by independent journalist Arlene Kushner. Permission is granted for it to be reproduced only with proper attribution.