Why the Calm in Israel?

Stories from the major press plus a note from an Israeli source provide food for thought.

Stories from the major press plus a note from an Israeli source provide food for thought.

It has been just over three months since Palestinian suicide bombers last struck inside Israel – the longest such lull in more than three years. Almost everyone has a theory… the barrier Israel is erecting in the West Bank, Israel’s effort to smash the infrastructure of militant groups such as Hamas, or the eddying currents of Palestinian internal politics. Senior Israeli security officials cite the juxtaposition of good intelligence and good luck. The letup in attacks, they say, is not for any lack of trying on the militants’ part. “All it takes is for one to get through,” a senior security official said last week. (LA Times)

IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Moshe Ya’alon has defended the destruction of terrorists’ houses, saying that neighbors and family members of would-be Palestinian suicide bombers often come forward with information to prevent pending attacks, in an effort to spare their homes… Ya’alon also reported on over 70 terror attacks in the last week: seven shootings on the highways; 32 shootings attacks on security forces; 12 mortar attacks in the Gaza Strip; five rocket attacks; and 19 mine and anti-tank attacks on forces in the Philadelphia Corridor on the border with Egypt. (Jerusalem Post)

According to a report to a Knesset committee, “There has been a drop of 75 percent in the number of suicide attacks (actual and thwarted) compared to the first half of 2003 (which itself was considerably better than 2002). Between January and today there have been 4 successful suicide attacks, the last one on March 14. During the same period, 58 attempts have been thwarted, so it’s not as if the terrorists have completely stopped trying… In recent weeks, in light of the dramatically reduced level of terrorist attacks, the IDF has dismantled more than 60 of the roadblocks scattered throughout the West Bank.”

So, Israel has no additions for now to the grim terror statistics. Terrorists are still trying (including a double father/daughter suicide bombing group caught before they could detonate themselves), but less often and with greater risk that their own people will turn them in. The Palestinian public receives the benefit of fewer roadblocks and a somewhat more normal life despite their lousy civil and religious leadership.

Punditry says Palestinian grievances have to be resolved for terrorism against Israel to end. The JINSA Flag and General Officers Trip heard a different view: Palestinians, not just terrorists, have to see that terrorism will not accomplish illegitimate goals (the destruction Israel) and there comes a point where Israel will judge its own safety to be more important than even legitimate Palestinian concerns (removing roadblocks).

So Israel has engaged in a combination of aggressive attacks on terrorists and the terrorist infrastructure in the territories, even at the cost of dislocating parts of the civilian population that harbored (willingly or unwillingly) the terrorists. And as the IDF is successful in doing what the PA won’t do, Israel provides benefits to the Palestinian civilian population.

So far, so good. But as long as the good guys have to succeed every time and the bad guys only a few times, no one should be complacent.