Monday, June 22, 2015

22-Jun-15: Deconstructing the Ramadan stabbings and shootings

Funeral of Danny Gonen, victim of Friday's shooting attack [Image Source]
Here in Jerusalem, it's difficult to escape awareness of the current state of elevated tension.

Yesterday (Sunday) at one of the most traveled entrances to the Old City, a young Arab from Sa’ir, a town in the West Bank near Hebron, executed a frenzied stabbing attack on a Mishmar Hagvul (Border Guard) service man around 10:00 am. [See "21-Jun-15: Sunday morning Jerusalem stabbing"] His victim, aged 20, has multiple stab wounds to the neck and chest, including one near his heart and underwent emergency surgery yesterday evening. Today's reports say he is "showing signs of improvement" at Shaarei Zedek Medical Center.

The knife-man's name is Yasser Yassin Tarwa. He too is hospitalized with "life-threatening injuries" after his victim managed to shoot him. And he too is getting the best medical care Israeli hospitals can offer, in his case at the world-renowned Hadassah Medical Center Ein Karem, Jerusalem. This morning, he was said to be in critical condition, sedated and on a respirator. Video clips of Arabs wailing and praising as the blood seeps from his wounds [here for instance] leave little doubt that, dead or alive, he has been ushered into the Palestinian Arab pantheon of "resistance" "heroes". It's far less likely that the medical team at the Israeli hospital where his life now hangs in the balance will get similar respect.

A Hamas website has been running this
photo of Tarwa, the perpetrator of Sunday
morning's knife attack. Those are Hamas regalia
draped around his neck [Image Source]
Times of Israel reports today that
Hamas praised Sunday’s attack, though it did not take credit for it, as photos published online indicated the assailant was a member or sympathizer of the Islamist movement. The Facebook page of Hamas website posted two photos of 18-year-old Tarwa from the town of Sa’ir near Hebron. In one, Tarwa is seen wearing a Hamas scarf and headband, and camouflage pants,,, 
Last night (Sunday) in another Jerusalem-area act of Palestinian Arab terrorism, an Israeli civilian bus traveling between the Israeli community of Adam, on Jerusalem's northern edge, and the Arab village of Hizma along Highway 437 came under rock and firebomb attack. The windshield was shattered and the driver was injured, but kept driving to ensure his passengers were spared further injury, damage and apprehension. He was rushed by a rescue team the Jerusalem's other Hadassah hospital, on Mount Scopus. The rescue vehicle came under rock and fire-bomb attack too.

And as we noted on Friday ["19-Jun-15: Reports of sniper attack on Israelis north of Jerusalem"], two young Israeli men came under fire from a Palestinian Arab shooter Friday afternoon. One of the two, Danny Gonen, 25, an electrical engineering student from the central Israeli city of Lod, died of his injuries at Tel Hashomer Hospital after being rushed there by IDF helicopter . The second victim was moderately hurt in the attack and is being treated at Tel Hashomer. The two had been traveling in their car after visiting a natural spring in the hills near Dolev, when a Palestinian Arab flagged them down, asking for assistance. Without warning, he "fearlessly" brandished a gun from a bag he was carrying and opened fire at his unarmed victims from point-blank range. A wide search is underway at this moment but he has not yet been apprehended.

Ron Ben Yishai, a respected veteran Israeli journalist, war correspondent and analyst, has some insightful observations in an article published last night. His argument (see "Not exactly a 'lone wolf' attack[Ron Ben-Yishai | Ynet | June 21, 2015is that while the term "lone wolf" tends to be used a great deal when an Arab stabs or stones or uses his car or bulldozer to run down and injure or kill civilian Israelis, the words deceive. What's really going on is more complex than that simple descriptor .

The security authorities are doing what they can. In Ben Yishai's words, the police are
flooding the targeted areas (mostly in East Jerusalem) with thousands of policemen whose very presence deters and prevents attacks. Unfortunately, not all of these police officers are patrolling the streets with bullet-proof vests and vigilance, and so on occasion a Border Police officer or a soldier falls prey to a lone terrorist.
Such attacks, he says, come against a background which includes several predictable, repeating themes.

The first and most important of them is what he calls the "religious fervor among the Muslims on the holy month of Ramadan" (Ramadan - literally "scorching heat" or "dryness", and referring to a 29-30 day period of "spiritual reflection, improvement and increased devotion and worship", began this past Thursday and continues for a month).
It is not just a matter of the sermons they hear, or of their religious inclinations, but also the lengthy fast, the extreme changes to daily lives and maintaining their day-to-day routine while not sleeping at night - all of these create a situation in which the Muslim street all over the world, including in the Palestinian Authority, sensitivity and anger run high. This psychological analysis is important because it explains a significant amount of attacks that seemingly reveal no rational reason for the murderer to choose to risk his life and his surroundings.
Next, the copy-cat phenomenon: one act of murder or terror begets another, mainly among those "already feeling anger or religious fervor, or wanted to prove something to those around them".

Then there is the inspiration channeled at them from the established Islamist terror organizations: Hamas and Islamic Jihad in particular. Though he does not explicitly say so, their messages broadcast encouragement for acts of anti-Jewish and anti-Israel violence round the clock, round the year. They provide the essential infrastructure without which the other elements would have smaller impact.

He describes his fourth factor as "the wave of Islamist zeal currently spreading over the entire Middle East." It's a zeal which evidently does not pause to observe Ramadan as this handful of headline reports from the past few days indicates:

No comments: