Sunday, January 02, 2011

1-Jan-11: The ordinariness of day-in, day-out terror

The Israel Security Agency published figures Thursday reporting on terror attacks against Israel during 2010. 798 attacks defined as acts of terror were reported in the year just ended. This amounts to more than two acts of terror every day of the year. The report counts 9 people, unarmed and innocent victims, murdered by Palestinian Arab terrorists.

Reminding us that terror happens not in a vacuum but because there are terrorists, the Hamas regime in Gaza issued its own press release yesterday boldly, courageously claiming credit for seven of those Israeli deaths (see this Palestinian news agency report). Their self-congratulation, as far as we can see, has gone entirely unreported.

No unusually dramatic acts of terror happened this week - just more of the ongoing too-familiar toll of bombings, shootings and the calculated sowing of fear. These events did not rate highly enough on the scale of significance or newsworthiness to be reported where you live or even where we do. But for the victims directly impacted by them, this week's acts of terror were a private nightmare. Week after week, year after year, for as long as the astonishing revival of the Jewish homeland in the last decades of the nineteenth century has been underway, the steady drumbeat of terror has been the background to the attempts by people of goodwill to achieve co-existence and peaceful relations.

Among this past week's attacks:
  • Today (Saturday) two female soldiers came under attack by a knife-wielding Palestinian Arab man near their base in the Gush Etzion community zone. Soldiers searched the area, found a Palestinian Arab man in possession of a knife and arrested him. He admitted having intended to cause harm to Israelis. (Source)
  • Friday, a Jewish shepherd tending his flock in the Maaleh Shomron area of Samaria came under fire from  Palestinian Arab shooters. Soldiers were called in but the attackers got away. (Source)
  • Thursday evening, a group of Palestinian Arab men attacked a soldier at the entrance to Kiryat Arba. He suffered injuries to the head in the attack. The assailants are under arrest. (Source)
  • Also on Thursday, yet another in a long series of Palestinian Arab rockets was fired into Israel (source - Arab report, describing the terrorists as "Gaza resistance fighters") from the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip overnight, exploding around midnight in the Negev desert. 
Meanwhile we are reminded that Islamicist hatred, while relentlessly directed at Jews and Israelis at every opportunity, has additional targets as well. In Egypt last night, a thousand Coptic Christians leaving a New Year's Eve mass in Alexandria came under terrorist attack, leaving 21 dead and more than 80 injured (source). The first reports were that this was a car bombing but it appears now, 24 hours later, that the bomb was delivered by a former human being and not by a vehicle. The Egyptian Interior Ministry is now saying the Alexandria bomb, like the Hamas bomb that took our daughter's life, was filled with nuts and bearings so as to kill and main as many as possible. 

While the Egyptian authorities have claimed last night's terrorism was an attack on Egyptian society from outside, they have some uncomfortable history to deal with that suggests this terror came from within and not so much from outside Egypt. A year ago, seven Egyptians were shot dead by Moslem gunmen as they left a pre-Xmas service at another Coptic church, this one in the town of Naga Hammadi, 600 km south of Cairo. Then in April 2010, in the coastal city of Marsa Matrouh, an enraged mob of some 3,000 Muslims gathered after Friday prayers, exhorted by the local mosque's imam to "cleanse the city of its infidel Christians" (source). The subsequent rampage produced a heavy toll: 18 homes, 23 shops and 16 cars completely destroyed, and 400 Copts forced to barricade themselves in their church for 10 hours until the frenzy passed.

The Wall Street Journal notes that the Egyptian government cynically insists it has no sectarian problem. Those who draw international attention to the plight of Egypt's Christians are, according to the government of Egypt, "traitors". It adds that the United States and other Western democracies, despite repeated Coptic appeals, have done little beyond calling upon the Egyptian regime to foster greater tolerance. 

Small wonder the terror continues there, here and elsewhere. Terror will stop only when governments decide it must be stopped, and this is never going to be easy to do. 

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