Should Israel prepare for a new Palestinian intifada (terror uprising)? Judging by what happened in the last two-and-a-half weeks and what happened in Samaria over the weekend, it is certainly possible. The major terror attacks in Israeli cities are back, albeit in a different form than before. Now it mainly concerns shooting attacks by lone Palestinian terrorists.
More than a week after one of the worst terror attacks in the state’s history was commemorated in Israel, there is a new deadly wave of terror that has already killed 14 Israelis so far.
Dozens more were injured in a series of stabbings and shootings that began with a stabbing attack in the city of Beersheva and culminated last Thursday with a shooting attack by a Palestinian terrorist at two bars on Tel Aviv’s busy Dizengoff Street.
Echoes of a bloody Passover
The suicide bombing 20 years ago in the dining hall of the Park Hotel in Netanya on the first night of Passover was without a doubt one of the deadliest during the so-called Second Intifada that began in September 2000. The attack on March 28, 2002 killed 30 Israelis and led to the reoccupation of Palestinian towns by the Israeli army (IDF).
Like many other Israelis, I remember where I was when I first heard about the Park Hotel attack. That was during the morning prayers on the first day of Passover.
After the main prayers were recited, the rabbi of the synagogue came to the platform and spoke. He said he made a highly unusual move but wanted to inform the public that a massacre had taken place at a hotel in Netanya in which 30 Jews had been killed.
The synagogue was completely silent and the tension was palpable.
That same day, IDF reservists were mobilized and the Israeli army began reoccupying Palestinian towns, including Jenin in northern Samaria.
At the time, Jenin was referred to in Israel as the “suicide capital” because it was where a significant portion of the suicide bombers who were wreaking havoc in Israel came from.
The Jenin refugee camp posed a particular challenge to the IDF because Palestinian terrorists had booby-trapped the entrances of many apartment blocs.
The army decided to use explosives to punch holes in the walls of buildings making it possible to search without setting off the traps.
In the end, 29 IDF soldiers were killed during the recapture of the refugee camp.
The foreign media, however, was misled by Palestinian propaganda and falsely reported that the IDF had carried out a massacre at the Jenin refugee camp. The late PLO secretary general Saeb Erekat, for example, claimed that 5,000 Palestinian Arabs had been murdered by the IDF.
Back to Jenin
The IDF is back in action again after elite units of the Israel Police, Internal Security Service (Shin Bet) and army shot and killed Ra’ad Fathi Razzem, the terrorist who carried out the Tel Aviv attack, early on Friday morning.
The terrorist was eliminated near a mosque in Jaffa, some three kilometers from the bar he had attacked on Dizengoff Street. Razzem killed three Israelis and injured 12 others before fleeing, and turned out to have 12 bullets left in his rifle.
According to Channel 12 News, the terrorist wanted to hide in the mosque until the start of Passover Eve, when Israelis sit for the Seder meal.
Shin Bet investigators say Razzem planned to carry out another shooting attack in Tel Aviv during this festive occasion.
Razzem reportedly was a member of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, a terror organization sponsored by Iran and taking its orders from the Quds Brigade of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps.
The IDF, assisted by the elite Police unit YAMAM and Shin Bet agents, entered Jenin on Saturday to map Razzem’s house prior to its demolition.
However, the troops came under fire and in the ensuing shoot-out, Ahmad Saadi, also a member of Palestinian Islamic Jihad, was killed. Thirteen other Palestinian Arabs were injured during the operation, including a 19-year-old woman who was hit in the head by shrapnel.
Crackdown on terror
Earlier in Jenin, Israeli security forces arrested a terror cell referred to as a “ticking time bomb.”
During other Israeli operations in Tulkarem, Nablus and Jenin, security forces pursued a terror cell that planned to enter Israel to carry out another attack.
The group of terrorists then threw a bag from their car in which a homemade automatic rifle was found along with a dozen bullets.
The cell managed to escape and fled toward the Israeli Arab city of Umm el-Fahm.
Israeli Arab terror
Umm el-Fahm has been in the news recently after two ISIS terrorists living in the city carried out a deadly shooting attack in the Israeli city of Hadera.
The city is a stronghold of extremists and members of the Islamic Movement in Israel. Since the attack in Hadera, Israeli police have arrested more than 100 Arabs with links to the Islamic State group.
Incidents were also reported over the weekend in other Palestinian cities such as Jericho in the Jordan Valley.
Desecration of holy places
On Monday night two Israelis were shot when they entered Joseph’s Tomb near Nablus (Shechem in Hebrew). The two managed to reach an IDF checkpoint where they received initial medical treatment.
Joseph’s Tomb was ransacked two times since last weekend, something that also happened during the Second Intifada.
The question now is whether this new wave of Palestinian violence will culminate in another Intifada.
This will mainly depend on any new terrorist attacks and Israel’s response to them.
What is certain is that Hamas and PIJ want to fuel the violence and that there will be more to come as Ramadan continues.