Friday, October 21, 2016

21-Oct-16: If a mass-casualty, Arab-on-Israeli plot is thwarted in time, is it still terrorism?

The targeted wedding hall, as it appears on its website
People who have experienced terrorism the hardest way - personally, like us - tend to pay more attention than most others to acts of terror that don't get all the way to fruition. Also: to the way the news reporting industry tends to focus serious attention on stories where there is actual human blood resulting from terror attacks and incomparably less attention where blood is absent and the terrorists are thwarted before their evil plans make the transition from potential to hideous reality.

Unless you follow the Israeli news-reporting media closely, it's unlikely you will know that a mass-murder plot, energetically pursued by a gang of Palestinian Arab terrorists, failed to happen recently. That's because - other than in parts of the Israeli news channels - there has been almost no news-report attention paid to it. Not enough blood.

Yesterday (Thursday), indictments were filed against several Palestinian Arabs in the same Be'er Sheva district court where the ongoing legal process against a senior World Vision manager is underway. (Other than the charge that terrorism was the goal in both prosecutions, the two seem to be unrelated.)

The allegations against the accused men are that they formed themselves into a terrorist ring, and planned to launch a mass-casualty attack at a strategic Israeli target, with an emphasis on the greatest possible number of Israeli casualties.

As has been the case with most terror assaults on Israelis in the past, the targets, while certainly strategic, were rarely military. Or guarded. Or connected to the government or to the police or to figures of authority. For instance, from a quick random selection:
All these, from a much longer list, are from the pre-1967 period. So the nonsense about Palestinian Arab terror being a response to "occupation" need not unduly trouble us.

In the years since, Palestinian Arab terrorist attacks have been directed at civilian aircraft and their passengers; airports; athletes at the Olympics; guests attending a Bar Mitzvah celebration; guests standing outside a Bar Mitzvah celebration; people strolling in city squares; school buses and the children on-board; pizzerias and their young customers; movie theatres and their patronsrestaurants and their diners; passenger buses and the commuters on board; a discotheque and the people lined up outside before coming inhouses of worship; schools and their school-children; hotels; students in a university cafeteria; bombs placed to exploded inside cafes, outside cafes and on and on.

The notion of strategic targets has a wide and varied meaning in the context of Arab-on-Israeli terror. Here's what Israel National News has reported on this latest chapter in the chronicles of that generations-long savagery.
It has been cleared for publication that a terror ring that had been planning a mass terror attack at an event hall in southern Israel has been arrested... Mahmoud Yusef Hassin Abu Taha of Khan Yunis in Gaza, who was arrested last month for trying to pass into Israel, revealed upon investigation that he stood at the head of an Islamic Jihad-affiliated organization in the Gaza Strip that had planned to carry out a number of attacks... Mahmoud had been drafted by Wael Sufyan Abu Taha, a senior operative of Islamic Jihad living in Gaza, who instructed Mahmoud to set up a terror infrastructure for carrying out attacks. Mahmoud didn’t hesitate, and drafted three more. One of them, a Gaza resident who had been residing in Israel illegally, was employed at the event hall for which the terror attack was planned... [F]or the purposes of preparing the attack, the terror group leader and employee of the hall undertook an initial check of the scene of the planned attack, according to which they were able to consolidate and ensure that a maximum number of people were murdered in the attack...
And the second part of the plan:
The ring had also been planning to capture and murder a soldier so as to use his body as a bargaining chip... Abu Taha planned an attack whereby a soldier would be captured and murdered - and his body used as a bargaining chip. To this end, he received thousands of shekels to rent an Israeli apartment - to where the soldier would be lured and murdered - to bury his body in the area and to transfer his belongings to Gaza - for the purposes of bargaining with Israel.
And this detail:
[T]hey planned to throw grenades into a crowd of dancers celebrating at the... events hall and to use weapons they would hide in trash cans ahead of the attack before fleeing the scene. They also considered detonating pipe bombs concealed under the dining tables.
Israel-based i24news names the other allegedly-terror-minded members of the busted cell:
55-year-old Shafiq Ahmad Hamad Abu Taha, who resided in Israeli illegally, 39-year-old Ahmed Tisir Abdulrahman Abu Taha from Gaza, who also resided in Israel illegally, and 40-year-old Hani Masood Nasir Abu Amra, originally from Deir al-Balah in Gaza, who lived in Israeli with temporary resident status through marriage by way of the "family reunification" law.
The four indicted Abu Taha terror-gang members make an appearance
in Beer Sheva District Court yesterday [Image Source]
Four members' names make clear they are related as members of the notorious Abu Taha clan. Some of the highlights of their activities are mentioned in this article ("Five Killed and Seven Injured in Armed Clan Clashes in Khan Yunis") from 2006.

A report in Haaretz says the one non-Abu Taha in the list, the one whose marriage gave him residency rights, has been living in Tel Sheva, a neighbourhood of Beer Sheva. (We wrote a personal note about it here.) That report goes on to make an astute observation that
The Shin Bet said the affair shows the way terrorist groups exploit entry permits into Israel, which are granted for humanitarian and economic reasons; as well as the danger of the terrorists' use of Palestinians who are residing in Israel illegally.
Things might have changed by the time you look, but when we searched Google for news stories that mention the men charged with terrorism yesterday, the only reports we could see [here] are Israeli or serve a specifically-Jewish readership. Knowing, as Israelis, that there are men, and surely women too, out there conspiring daily to attack our wedding halls and public and private places and to kill as many of us as they can, while the mainstream news-reporting industry politely turns away, is deeply disturbing.

You sometimes hear people dismiss outrage over jihadism and Islamist via the idiotic aphorism "One person's terrorist is another's freedom fighter." A much more meaningful observation might be: "One person's terrorist is another's non-story." That reflects the threat much more accurately.

Apathy, distance and agenda-driven journalistic reporting mean that not enough people are willing to look and see what terror is, and what its practitioners seek to do. That enlarges the danger to all of us.

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