Sunday, January 05, 2014

5-Jan-13: The terror not reported remains the real news

John Kerry back in Ramallah yesterday [Image Source]
"We're making progress... just not there yet."
Ignoring the ongoing acts of terror is generally the way to have them disappear from the agenda of public discourse, especially when peace hangs heavily in the air as it does with the current spate of Kerry visits. He's in our neighbourhood again right now, meeting with political figures on the Israeli and PA sides, according to a Guardian report, and
discussing a US-authored "framework agreement" with the two leaders to set parameters for further negotiations in the hope of reaching a deal... The deadline for reaching a final deal is April, but almost no one expects that to be met.
[Much as we would like Kerry to address some of the concerns of people like us who fear the consequences of an American policy that ignores Palestinian Arab terrorists and does not even know how to characterize their evil, he has ignored our requests again.]

In the meantime, though they vanish from the news reporting and from the consciousness of people far from here, those acts of terror that consistently fail to make the pages of the Guardian are certainly there on the agenda of ordinary Israelis who need to fend off the very real dangers that go unreported.

A handful of instances from this weekend alone:
  • On Thursday (we noted this here), the news channels here in Israel disclosed - after the authorities lifted the ban on publicizing this - that more than a dozen active terrorists, most of them affiliated with Palestinian Islamic Jihad, had been taken into custody for their parts in the bombing of a city bus in the Tel-Aviv suburb of Bat Yam two weeks ago. One of the central figures is a serving police officer in the PA security forces.
  • Why did the PIJ people place a bomb on a civilian bus? In their own wordsas a "response to the crimes of the occupation". Clear enough?
  • On Friday at Sha'ar Shechem, the Damascus Gate, in Jerusalem, an Arab female, aged about sixteen and armed with a concealed knife, attacked a Mishmar Hagvul/Border Guard police officer. One of the servicemen who wrested the weapon from her hands was stabbed, but no one suffered life-threatening injuries. Stabbing attacks on Israelis, and especially on security personnel, are a constant here and the injuries are usually non-trivial. Most recently, the policeman stabbed by an Arab assailant in the Jerusalem suburb of Adam on the day after that Bat Yam bus bombing ["23-Dec-13: As more terrorists are set to walk free, an Israeli policeman is stabbed in the back"] while directing rush-hour traffic, was unconscious when brought to Jerusalem's Shaarei Zedek Medical Center. He remained on a respirator until the following morning before undergoing emergency surgery that saved his life but that cost him a kidney. (This does not qualify as a serious injury in the news industry, though the officer and his family might not see things that way.) Thankfully, he is doing much better now. Friday's stabber lives in the Jabel Mukaber neighbourhood of East Jerusalem. She is now in the hands of the authorities for interrogation.
  • Now a brief personal observation. For those of us for whom this is home, the data on terror attacks are not only discouraging but seriously alarming given the lock-step relationship between repeated Kerry visits and the manifest appetite of the Palestinian Arab terrorism industry for more and better news-making attacks on Israelis. The Israel Security Agency, better known as the Shabak, publishes monthly data on its website tracking the ebbs and flows of terrorism directed at Israelis. The December numbers are not yet out, but in November, there were 167 terror attacks compared with 136 in the previous month, a month-on-month rise of 23%, and the most terror-rich month so far in 2013. Two of these were stabbing attacks: one on a female IDF soldier in Jaffa on November 22, and the perplexing murder-by-knifing of a sleeping 18 year old on a bus in Afula (reported here) on November 13. There was much more: we report on some, though not all, the attacks in this blog. One final observation: 53 of those November 2013 attacks took place in Jerusalem, compared with 32 in October - a month-on-month rise of 66%.
  • The news from yesterday, Saturday, continues the pattern. Alerted by security observers, IDF soldiers intercepted a group of armed Palestinian Arabs making their way to the perimeter fence that surrounds Migdal Oz, a kibbutz with a rich history. Four were arrested after being found in possession of makeshift weapons and knives.
  • Earlier on Saturday [source], firebombs (also known as Molotov cocktails) and rocks were hurled again by Arabs at Israeli vehicles traveling along the roads of Gush Etzion, a cluster of suburban communities a few minutes drive south of Bethlehem and Jerusalem. Vehicle damage was caused, but fortunately nothing worse. (Migdal Oz is part of the Gush Etzion region.) These attacks sound so benign when they are termed "stone-throwing". But their potential is no less lethal than other forms of violent jihad-driven attack. 
In a thoughtful analysis two weeks ago, Amir Oren writing in Haaretz ["Bus bombing marks slow but sure rise in Palestinian terrorism"] pointed out what is widely understood here: 
Judging by past experience, it is safe to say that if there are signs of significant progress in the [Kerry-inspired] talks, efforts to thwart them by way of terrorist attacks will only increase. [Haaretz, December 22, 2013]
The data are bearing this out, though if you are not aware of them, it's hard to factor them into your understanding. A recent analysis by the dedicated media-watchers at CAMERA asks what those of us close to the events and endangered by them wonder: "Where's the coverage?"

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