One cell, one state, no solution: 6 things to know for December 16
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Israel media review

One cell, one state, no solution: 6 things to know for December 16

Troops think that one terror group is behind a series of attacks, and fear a wave of copycats if they do too much, or not enough, to crack down; as some urge razing more houses

A Palestinian wears a flag with Koranic inscriptions as he rides his bicycle in front of burning tires  near the Hawara checkpoint south of the West Bank city of Nablus on December 14, 2018. (Photo by JAAFAR ASHTIYEH / AFP)
A Palestinian wears a flag with Koranic inscriptions as he rides his bicycle in front of burning tires near the Hawara checkpoint south of the West Bank city of Nablus on December 14, 2018. (Photo by JAAFAR ASHTIYEH / AFP)

1. Cell-stopper: Last week’s violence in the West Bank has given way to a tense calm as of Sunday morning, but the effects of the deadly attacks and Israeli raids are still being deeply felt and debated.

  • Israeli defense officials believe the same Hamas cell is responsible for the shooting attack near the Ofra settlement and the one outside the Givat Assaf outpost on Thursday, though they think that in the latter case, the person responsible acted alone and on impulse, the Haaretz daily reports. They also think the cell may be responsible for other shooting attacks in the area that did not get press because there were no serious injuries or deaths.
  • According to Israel Hayom, authorities think the so-called terror wave is limited to the region around Ramallah, where the cell is active, and believe it’s only a matter of time before they are caught. Nonetheless, there is wide fear of copycat attacks from lone wolves, which are harder to stop.
  • ToI’s Judah Ari Gross writes that “Military officials and analysts explain the increased violence of the past week as ‘terror attacks beget terror attacks’— or in Hebrew, ‘pigua rodef pigua’: that one incident often prompts another and another, until the pattern is broken. The Israel Defense Forces is now attempting to do just that, though it is no easy task, with the potential for violence to escalate if either too much or not enough action is taken.”

2. Missed connections: Questions are also being raised about whether the cell could have been caught earlier.

  • “The IDF brass admit that there were serious mistakes, which will be probed, regarding how the forces acted, but right now the focus is on settling things with the terrorists who carried out the attacks in Ofra and Givat Assaf,” Yedioth Ahronoth reports.
  • “We always ask ourselves if we could have discovered the cell earlier,” an officer tells Haaretz, though the source adds that it does not mean they necessarily think there was an intelligence failure.

3. No way to stop terror: Israel has defended home demolitions as a deterrent, but the events of the last several days have raised questions anew about their efficacy.

  • On Saturday, Israeli forces blew up the home of the Abu Hamid family, after Yousef Abu Hamid was accused of killing Israeli soldier Ronen Lubarsky by throwing a stone slab on his head. But as ToI’s Avi Issacharoff points out, it’s not the first time the family’s home was destroyed, and if anything it served to radicalize the family rather than convince them of the folly of their ways,
  • “There is no magical solution for preventing attacks on Israeli citizens and soldiers, and anyone who holds up house demolitions as the ultimate means to do so is either mistaken or deliberately misleading others. It is an excellent way of soothing the families of the victims and an Israeli public out for revenge, but nothing more than that,” he writes.
  • Yedioth’s Ben-Dror Yemini also counsels against home demolitions and other forms of collective punishment, which the right has pushed for despite the army advising that such a strategy will only radicalize more people: “[The army’s] policy of restraint, of only hurting those with the knives and not the population as a whole, has proven itself. There is no way to completely eliminate terror. It only happens in fantasies. But led by the IDF, Israel has taken steps to significantly lower the number of casualties.”

4. Mr. Netanyahu, tear down that house: In the same paper, though, Amihai Attali writes that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s tough words against terror aren’t enough and he needs to act on them, by blowing up some houses — judicial constraints be damned.

  • “The blood indeed boils over the latest attacks, but these moves are not for revenge,” he writes. “If Netanyahu does not devote all his energy now to overcoming the judicial red tape and just continues talking about a tough hand and virtual hugs to bereaved parents, we will know that he really doesn’t want to try to protect our lives.”
  • Israel Hayom’s Amatzia Chen blames what he says is the IDF’s containment policy, put in place after 1982, for making it so Palestinians no longer fear Israeli soldiers: “The unfortunate phenomenon is seen every day in the throwing of stones and firebombs, kids with scissors attacking soldiers, teens carrying out stabbings and all this accompanied by car-ramming and shooting attempts.”

5. Fear of a one-state solution: Days after a survey showed that support for a one-state solution, with Israelis and Palestinian both having democratic rights, is on the rise in the US, Haaretz’s Amir Tibon writes that American Jewish groups are expressing worries over the trend, especially given that it is being increasingly backed by left-wing and pro-Palestinian groups.

  • “The lack of any progress in the peace process is causing people to lose any hope for a future peace deal. As a result, people are thinking of alternatives to the classic ‘two-states’ formula. We have a big challenge on our hands, because the one-state solution basically means Israel will no longer be a Jewish state,” one pro-Israel activist is quoted as saying.
  • The author of the study, Shibley Telhami, tells NPR that “There’s no question in my mind that there’s rising interest in the one-state solution. There’s many reasons for it, in part because it’s been legitimized both on the left and right … but also because of a creeping recognition that maybe two-states is not possible.”

6. A politician ate my capital: Australia’s recognition of West Jerusalem as capital seems to be the perfect compromise, in that it has made nobody happy.

  • After the move was announced, Malaysia and Indonesia both spoke up against it, as did the Palestinians and others.
  • Israel was also reportedly not happy with it, according to several reports in the Hebrew press, which quote a diplomat saying Jerusalem was disappointed with the milquetoast move and Canberra’s continued support for the Iran nuclear deal.
  • While Israel did not express outright disappointment, the official statement, which only mentioned the opening of a trade and defense office in Jerusalem, calling it a “step in the right direction,” was not quite a ringing endorsement.
  • “‘No thanks,’ was the unofficial Israeli response to Canberra,” Israel Hayom’s Ariel Kahane writes.
  • In the Sydney Morning Herald, columnist Rodger Shanahan calls the announcement “much ado about nothing.”
  • “Far from representing a fundamental break with the past, the announcement contained a combination of easily reversed gestures and continuity with past policy,” he writes. “None of these minor changes are difficult to reverse and the opposition has undertaken to do just that if it gains power. So this time next year it is quite possible that all the light and heat generated over this proposal will have been for nothing and the status quo will have been maintained. Which would be reflective of much of Middle Eastern politics.”
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