Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon on Sunday brushed off demands from politicians for a dramatic escalation in IDF operations in the West Bank to end the wave of terror attacks that has killed at least 20 Israelis over the past two months.
Former foreign minister Avigdor Liberman, a longstanding critic of the government’s policy toward the West Bank and Gaza, on Saturday demanded a new policy of “decisive victory,” including targeted assassinations in the Gaza Strip against those inciting Palestinians to kill Israelis and ground incursions into Palestinian population centers similar to those that ended the Second Intifada in 2002’s Operation Defensive Shield.
Ya’alon, who served as IDF chief of staff during Defensive Shield, rejected the demands as “sloganeering.”
“Ever since Defensive Shield, when we again began entering Area A,” the parts of the West Bank that include Palestinian population centers, “we haven’t stopped doing so,” he told Israel Radio Sunday morning.
IDF forces “go into Area A. So there’s no need for targeted assassinations. If there’s information about a terrorist in some place, we just go in and arrest him, even in the heart of Area A, in the refugee camp of Jenin or the Qasbah in Nablus. This time we don’t need another Operation Defensive Shield. I love these slogans. There’s no need for divisions [to invade Palestinian cities]. An undercover unit goes in, carries out the arrest and leaves. Such operations take place dozens of times a day.”
Ya’alon called for resilience and patience in dealing with the latest terror wave.
“I urge people to be patient. This is not a challenge of a single ‘bang.’ These sorts of conflicts require resilience, patience, and of course determination and creativity, and we’re doing that.”
Earlier Sunday, Liberman reiterated his criticism on Israel Radio, slamming what he called the government’s “policy of containment and defeat.”
“There has to be a policy of decisive victory,” he said. “First of all, all those who welcome the murder of Jews and call for continued murder of Jews have to be a legitimate target of targeted assassination in the Gaza Strip. Anyone who calls for the murder of Jews, and also acts on it — these aren’t theoretical threats, they’re giving orders — has to be a legitimate target.”
On Friday, Ya’alon warned that the terror attacks are not likely to end soon.
“This wave will accompany us in the coming days, coming weeks, and maybe more than that,” Ya’alon was quoted as saying by Army Radio.
Speaking to the Industrialists’ Union at a conference in Eilat, the defense minister said, “We don’t know if the terror will end soon, or when it might do so. So we must prepare for every eventuality.”
Israel’s efforts to stem the violence are not certain to work and could actually have the opposite effect in the near term, he warned. “We cannot promise that things will calm down. They may escalate.”