Country records highest number of casualties at hands of Palestinian terrorists since 2008
Israel recorded a grim milestone this week as the number of Israeli civilians and security forces killed by Palestinian militants this year reached 29 – the highest number of casualties since 2008.
The latest attack came on Tuesday, seeing three Israeli civilians murdered at the hand of a Palestinian terrorist near the West Bank settlement of Ariel.
The deadly wave of attacks began back in March with a series of deadly shootings, stabbings, and car-ramming attacks deep inside Israel – in cities like Be’er Sheva, Jerusalem, Hadera, and Bnei Brak.
Between mid-March and early May, 19 people were killed in Israel and the West Bank, prompting the Israeli military to launch Operation “Break the Wave” to crack down on Palestinian terrorism, conducting nightly arrests and raids on suspected terrorists.
Yet, the operation had only limited results so far, and the wave of murderous attacks against Israelis shows no signs of stopping.
A shooting attack in the heart of Tel Aviv in April that killed three civilians hit close to home for many, a soft target for thousands of revelers in one of the most popular spots in the country. In May, three Israelis were killed and four wounded in a brutal axe attack on Israel’s independence day.
Overall, over 2,200 attacks have been recorded inside Israel and the West Bank in 2022 so far, killing 29 and wounding dozens.
This year’s escalation came amid a weakening of the security coordination mechanism between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, and the strengthening of militant groups in the northern West Bank.
Benjamin Netanyahu’s next government, expected to be sworn in once coalition negotiations are completed, will have a tough task at hand. As the head of a right-wing government, Netanyahu and his allies will want to appease their voters who slammed the previous leadership for its lack of action when it comes to personal security both within Israel and across the West Bank. A tougher hand on terror groups, restrictions on the movement of Palestinians into Israel, and reducing the number of work permits could all be implemented by Israel’s next security cabinet.
Far-right lawmaker Itamar Ben-Gvir, who is slated to become Israel’s next interior security minister, has vowed to impose a more hard-line approach toward terror and violent crime. He has reportedly demanded an additional $1.7 billion to strengthen the Israeli police by improving wages, opening new police stations, and acquiring new technological devices.
He has also called to change Israel’s rules of engagement to allow a freer hand to take down militants and to demand legislation to allow the death penalty for terrorists.
But moves like these could come with their own set of risks.
Hardline measures can easily escalate into a wider popular uprising on the Palestinian street. Moreover, the presence of Ben-Gvir as Israel’s next internal security minister could in itself encourage more outrage and retaliation, driven by incitement and theories of Jewish plans to change the status quo at Jerusalem’s flashpoint site, the Temple Mount.
Netanyahu is well aware of the dangers lurking at his doorstep. He will be looking to focus on expanding the Abraham Accords, repairing the Israeli economy, and improving Israel’s security. A wide-scale operation in the West Bank to eliminate terror infrastructure may prove useful in the long run but could come at the cost of more Israeli and Palestinian blood and yet more damage to Israel’s foreign relations.
Data released for the month of October alone shows 916 violent incidents across Israel and the West Bank.
Israeli volunteer organization Rescuers without Borders issued a report on Wednesday on the number of violent incidents that took place in Israel and the West Bank in October, with a total figure reaching 916. According to their statistics, a total of 614 stone-throwing incidents were recorded, while shooting attacks stood at 23. Another 43 assaults were carried out using rocks, bats, and firearms.
The number of assaults involving Molotov cocktails and burning tires reached 194 each. Attempts to blind car drivers with laser lights amounted to 66. Nine attacks on vehicles also included bottles and balloons with paint. Another nine incidents involved explosive devices.
Four Israelis were killed by terrorists in October. Another 88 people became victims of “unlawful actions and violence” by Palestinians, according to the report.
Two policemen and 15 civilians were injured in stone-throwing incidents. The report also stated that 14 arsons were prevented.