Thursday, July 03, 2008

Incident in Jerusalem

The incident in Jerusalem today was clearly a terrorist attack intended to kill Israeli civilians and to sow mayhem. The fact that 3 were killed and about 45 wounded was another reminder that every day terrorists try to murder Israelis. However, this time it is instructive that the weapon used was a bulldozer and the terrorist had no guns or explosives and was from East Jerusalem.
There are three categories of Arabs, 1. Israeli Arabs, who are Israeli citizens; 2. Palestinians, living on the West Bank and Gaza; and 3. East Jerusalemites (some 250,000) who are somewhere in between. Because Israel annexed East Jerusalem after the 1967 war, the Arab inhabitants became Israeli, although they do not have all the rights of other citizens, such as passports. They are covered by Israeli law (unlike the West Bank) and they have id cards that allow them to travel or work anywhere within Israel. So having an East Jerusalem Arab working on a construction site in Jerusalem driving a tractor or bulldozer is not unusual.
The idea that an Arab individual will decide to carry out such a serious incident by himself is highly improbable. Not only does this require planning and timing, but the place and nature of the attack must be taken into account. The fact that this incident occurred on the main Jaffa Road right in front of the main HQ of most of the media companies in Israel is no coincidence. But, who was behind this attack? Hamas would probably not want to jeopardize their "truce" with Israel in Gaza, and so probably was not involved. A group calling itself "movement for the liberation of Galillee" has been reported to be responsible, but noone knows what this group is, and why attack Jerusalem if you want to liberate Galillee?
The fact is that the terrorist groups are finding it much harder to smuggle both terrorists and weapons (including suicide belts) into Israel for two reasons, first, the security fence, that in Jeruslaem is a wall, that channels all entrants from the territories into a few checkpoints, where they are usually detected, and second the improved activities of the security services, especially intelligence about terrorists on the West Bank. It's true that there are a lot of them, but the whole WB Arab population is only ca. 2 million, so its fairly easy to keep track of them. Since they can't rely on infiltrating Israel, the terrorist groups now try to use E. Jerusalemites who have legitimate passes and even jobs in Jerusalem/Israel.
The attack on the Mercaz Harav Yeshiva in Jerusalem last March in which 8 students were murdered (how quickly we forget) was the first attack for 2 years and was carried out by an E. Jerusalem Arab who was working as a nightwatchman in several places, including that Yeshiva. Even before that, the attack on the Hebrew University cafe on the Mt. Scopus campus some 3 years ago, that killed 4 and wounded many, was carried out by E. Jerusalem workers.
Somehow Israel is going to have to check/monitor these Arab workers with passes into Israel more effectively. In a poll conducted last year the majority of E. Jerusalem Arabs preferred to remain within Israel. This is not surprising since they receive welfare and other benefits of Israeli society. But, if they continue to be a source of murderous terrorists against us, they may not be able to enjoy the advantages of Israeli society for very long.


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