By Erin Viner
Speaking after visiting the IDF Judea and Samaria Division headquarters along with IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Aviv Kochavi, IDF Central Command CO Maj.-Gen. Yehuda Fox, Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) Maj.-Gen. Rassan Alian and additional senior officers, the Israeli leader made a statement to the media:
“There is no doubt that we will win” against the recent wave of Arab/Palestinian terror against Israel, he said, in part due to the “the resourcefulness and the brilliance of the young men and women” working in military intelligence and “the fighting spirit of members of the IDF, the Border Police, the Israel Police and the Israel Security Agency (ISA, Shin Bet).
“We can rely on them. I want to say to all of the forces, to every soldier throughout the country, from the soldiers on the coast to the police officers in Beersheva or Kiryat Shemonah, I want to tell them, on behalf of the citizens of Israel, thank you. The determination of the soldiers in the field provides calm for the citizens on the street, and this is our goal.”
Arab terrorists murdered 11 people in a number of separate attacks across Israel last week. In the sharpest spike of terrorism in years, a Bedouin Arab murdered four people in a stabbing and car ramming attack in the southern Israeli city of Beersheba on 22 March, followed by the deadly shooting of two victims by two Arab gunmen in the central city of Hadera on 27 March. Israeli authorities said all of the assailants, who were killed during their deadly attacks, were loyal to Islamic State terror group. Five other people were shot to death in Bnei Brak on 29 March in an attack that was not claimed by any armed group, though residents of the West Bank village of Ya’bad linked the assailant to the Fatah party lead by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.
Saying that the recent “severe terrorist attacks” are currently being met “with full force” and “very aggressive action,” Prime Minister Bennett revealed that “the IDF, ISA and the Israel Police have thwarted over 15 significant terrorist attacks that were planned by terrorists in Judea and Samaria and in the rest of the country” over the past two weeks. Over 207 suspects have been arrested by Israeli security forces, while 400 others have been detained or questioned over suspected links “with ISIS or extremist jihad organizations.”
Acknowledging that while “these initiated operations are succeeding in thwarting many terrorist initiatives,” he went on to say that, “On the other hand, it seems to me that there is no citizen of Israel who is not feeling the massive reinforcement of police and security units in the country. From our perspective, the sense of security is a very, very important goal.”
Pointing out that “in every crisis there is opportunity,” the Premier stressed, “Our opportunity here is to take a strategic step to strengthen personal security in the State of Israel.”
Toward that end, the Israeli government has already approved ₪ 180 million (about $56m or €51m) in immediate emergency assistance that will be used to recruit more officers and positions at the Israel Police, he said, in addition to the acquisition of protective equipment such as helmets, ceramic vests and laser devices. The funds will also be used to establish a new Border Police brigade, which Bennett described as “a very significant force that will also serve us in times of routine, and – Heaven forbid – in emergencies, so that we will not reach situations like in (the 2021) Operation Guardians of the Walls.”
Tensions have risen over the rise of attacks in the run-up to last Saturday’s start of Ramadan, a period during which violence has spiked. Near-nightly clashes between Arabs and Jerusalem police during last year’s observance of the Muslim holy month prompted full scale fighting with Gaza when Palestinian terror groups based in the territory fired more than 4,000 rockets at the Jewish State during the ensuing 11-day Operation Guardian of the Walls last May.
Turning to violence in the country’s Arab sector, he went on to disclose that the Negev police and the Border Police forces “carried out a very significant operation in the Bedouin community of Lakiya” during which “hundreds of weapons and arms components” were seized and “underground complexes” were exposed. “The test is in persistence and perseverance. Operation after operation, raid after raid, not to despair or give in to fear,” he emphasized.
Urging civilian resilience, Prime Minister Bennett said that “the terrorists’ goal is not just to murder and kill but to sow fear in the hearts of Israeli citizens in order to disrupt the routine. We cannot let them succeed.” He called on the Israeli public to “continue going to work as usual, to sending the children to school, to going out and yes, most certainly to travel around the country. For many years they have been trying to uproot us from this land, to attack the spirit of the people, and to make us give up. It did not work then; it will never work.”
Calling for the nation to overcome political or other divisions, Bennett underscored that, “In the face of waves of terrorism we must unite, be together and win. With G-d’s help, this is what is going to happen.”