Purim is over, and we are back to “normal,” whatever that actually is.
Last Tuesday, the terrorist who murdered Staff Sgt. Gal Keidan and Rabbi Ahiad Ettinger at the Ariel Junction a week ago, was caught and eliminated. Security forces had tracked him to the Arab village of Abwein, near Ramallah. When they surrounded the house where he was hiding (pictured below) and called for him to come out, the terrorist opened fire. During the ensuing gun fight he was killed.
A sigh of relief: We are grateful that a dangerous terrorist is no longer running around with a weapon, and glad for the news that he is dead. Dead is what he deserves to be. I don’t think there is much question about this.
Prime Minister Netanyahu declared, with regard to this operation: “Israel’s long arm will reach all those who hurt our citizens and soldiers.”
This is an appropriate statement, offering important reassurance to Israeli Jews. But this is not a deterrent: Potential terrorists will not be dissuaded by such remarks. For when they are caught and killed, they become martyrs and their families can receive PA generous payments.
And here we come to what I am referring to in my title, above. Yes! Every effort to pursue and take down those who perpetrate terrorist attacks is desirable and necessary. But such efforts are not in and of themselves sufficient because they are after the fact.
Amongst the people very deeply shaken by the attack at the Ariel Junction was Miriam Ben-Gal, mother of four young kids, who lives and works as a teacher in Har Bracha. When she got the news of this latest attack, it devastated her, for her husband, Rabbi Itamar Ben Gal, had been murdered by a terrorist at the same Ariel Junction. (Picture of them in happy times, below.)
She had just observed the first yahrzeit (anniversary of the death) of her husband in February. “Nothing has changed!” she mourned.
When she lost her husband, Miriam received a very special condolence call from Yael Shevach, whose husband, Rabbi Raziel Shevach, had been gunned down less than a month before. Yael came to assure Miriam that they were now sisters and would get through it together.
How many times, before something changes?
How many widows, and orphans, how much death and innocent Jewish suffering?
This question is particularly pertinent at the moment because we are on the cusp of an election.
We cannot stop every individual “lone wolf” terrorist before he acts. In some cases there is no advance warning, no Facebook post, no membership in a terror organization.
Stopping them requires a different sort of deterrence, which will make him think twice before acting. This calls for a clear-eyed vision of the nature of the problem and stern resolve in carrying out what must be done. With everything else, this means putting aside decisions based on political-correctness.
My understanding is that the best way to get to the would-be-terrorist is to make it clear to him that his family will not benefit – will not receive “pay” from the PA, or honor from the community – but instead will suffer if he acts.
So much is said, negatively, about Otzma, which has joined the Right-Wing Union list – its members are charged with being disciples of Kahane and “racists” (which they are not). Both Ben Ari and Ben Gavir have made it plain that their positions are political – that they advocate expelling enemies of Israel, not all Arabs.
At this juncture I would suggest that they are on to something: at a bare minimum, families of terrorists, who are enemies of Israel in their implicit support for terrorism, ought to be banished, preferably to a place as miserable as Gaza.
I am well aware of the stumbling blocks inherent in such an approach: appeals to the Military Courts of the Civil Administration, and to the High Court; condemnations from the EU, etc.
What we need now are parties in our government who will take on this challenge, and work diligently to change what is happening – to forge the most effective approach.
This means voting to the right, and most urgently do I urge Israelis distressed by the current situation to consider doing so. I encourage this so that the coalition that Netanyahu will form will be solidly to the right. It is my full expectation (see below) that Likud will command the most mandates in the elections and that Netanyahu will be charged with forming the government. There is no alternative.
MK Bezalel Smotrich heads National Union, a faction within the Right-Wing Union, which is one option for voters seeking to vote to the right. Smotrich just days ago advanced several thoughts for increasing stringency in responding to terrorists. Addressing Netanyahu, he said, in part:
“A month and a half ago, Ori Ansbacher HY’D was murdered in Jerusalem. The terrorist was caught and sent to a summer camp of a prison – unfortunately, you have failed to implement the committee’s recommendations to toughen conditions of imprisoned terrorists.”
I confess that this shocked me. I knew of the recommendation that conditions for terrorists in prison be tightened. I did not know it had not been implemented. One instance, of many, where political correctness – which was clearly operative – must go, and spines must be stiffened.
Minister of Justice Ayelet Shaked is co-founder of the New Right, another option for voters seeking to vote to the right. Shaked – recognizing that a left-leaning Supreme Court that has usurped considerable power is part of our problem – is now advancing ideas for revolutionizing the system. She is talking about new methods for selecting members of the Supreme Court; establishing legislation that determines the limits of the authority of the Court, and provides latitude for the Knesset to over-ride certain Court decisions.
I shall return to various of Shaked’s proposals – they merit serious attention, as do other thoughts on improving the situation.
Voting into power the Blue and White party, replete with former generals, is most decidedly not the answer to tackling terrorism, though they work diligently to convince voters that it is.
Aside from the fact that I think this party is running an atrocious, low-class campaign, I would point out a couple of salient facts here.
When Benny Gantz had the opportunity to act to save the life of an Israeli soldier, he passed, in what seems to have been an attempt to honor political correctness during the Oslo period:
Ron Jager, who served under Gantz during the incident in question, reports:
On October 1, 2000, Joseph’s Tomb (Kever Yosef), which is on the outskirts of Nablus in Palestinian Authority territory, was under siege by an Arab mob. IDF Sergeant Madhat Yusef (a Druze) had been shot by Palestinian Arab terrorists, and lay bleeding to death over a period of three and a half hours.
“Israeli forces were only a few minutes away and could have saved him and rescued the remaining soldiers (who were under siege)…Surveillance drones buzzed above Joseph s Tomb…a tank battalion had been assembled and two columns of Merkavot tanks were in place waiting for the order to enter Nablus to rescue Madhat Yusef and the other soldiers under siege in Joseph s Tomb.”
Benny Gantz, who was the Regional Commander, never gave the order for Israeli troops to enter Nablus and save Yusef.
Why did Gantz not give that order?
“…the leftist Labor Party (in power) was willing to demand sacrifices from the Israeli public so that the Oslo Agreements would be implemented. Did this willingness to save the Oslo agreement at any cost permeate the IDF’s top brass? Did the withholding of the order to save Madhet Yusef on the part of Brigadier Benny Gantz reflect a politicization of what should have been a purely operational decision?”
Today (Sunday), Chair of the New Right Naftali Bennett, charged that the abduction of Lieutenant Hadar Goldin during 2014’s Operation Protective Edge was caused by the firing orders of Benny Gantz, who was then IDF Chief of Staff, and Moshe Ya’alon, who was then Defense Minister:
In an interview with Radio 103FM, Bennett explained: “The entire story of the late Hadar Goldin (whose body is one of two still held by Hamas), which is barely mentioned, was made under terrible open-fire orders.”
He noted that the soldiers were “sent to deal with the tunnels” but instructed “not to open fire.”
“…I know that every soldier who shoots a terrorist is investigated and prevented from being promoted. I want to see when we’ll try officers whose soldiers didn’t engage.”
Things are moving in the right (double entendre intended) direction: A major poll done last week indicates that Likud is now ahead of Blue and White: 32 – 29, with Likud showing a solid opportunity for forming a coalition.
And my guess is that the numbers for Likud will be even better as matters are suddenly going well for Netanyahu in certain regards:
Prime Minister Netanyahu is now in the States for the AIPAC Convention. While there, he will be meeting with President Trump, who may at that time sign a presidential order formally recognizing Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights.
This is big, and I’ll have follow-up on this once that order is signed and statements are made.
Last Thursday, Trump had tweeted that it was “time for the United States to fully recognize Israel’s Sovereignty over the Golan Heights,” but had given no indication of when that full recognition would take place.
This follows the Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s release, on March 13, of the annual State Department Human Rights Report: It referred to the Golan Heights as “Israeli-controlled” (a precursor to the Trump announcement) instead of “Israeli-occupied,” and for the first time dropped the terms “occupied” and “occupation” from everything related to Judea and Samaria and Gaza.
Pompeo is a good and sincere friend to Israel.
I am pleased to report that IDF soldier Alexander Dvorsky, 19, who was in critical condition following the Ariel attack, is improving steadily and is now out of danger and in moderate condition.
© Arlene Kushner. This material is produced by independent journalist Arlene Kushner. Permission is granted for it to be reproduced only with proper attribution.