Current Events Analysis: Wave of Terror Israel March 2022
Over the course of last week, 11 Israelis have been murdered in terrorist attacks across Israel.
Some of the attackers used edged weapons while others used firearms.
- March 22, 2022 – Beersheva. One attacker, a knife. Terrorist killed 4 people, neutralized by armed civilians. Terrorist associated with Palestinian Islamic Jihad.
- March 27, 2022 – Hadera. Two attackers with handguns (they then gained control of two rifles). This attack was well planned, terrorists dressed up as religious jews wearing body armour concealed under their long jackets. The men identified two border guardsmen with rifles and used handguns to eliminate the officers and take their weapons. They were neutralized by off duty Yamas SF officers who happened to be sitting in a nearby restaurant. The attackers were Israeli Arabs from Umm El Fahm who had sworn allegiance to ISIS.
- March 29, 2022 – Bnei Barak. One attacker, rifle. Gunman with an IDF issued rifle and optics kills 5 people in Bnei Barak, including one of the motorized Police officers who engaged him and ultimately neutralized him. Other victims of this attack include two Ukrainian foreign workers and a father who died protecting his baby from the gunman. Terrorist had previously been associated with Fatah.
- Latest attacks have focused on urban areas that are not as effectively protected as Tel Aviv or Jerusalem, allowing perpetrators to remain active longer in order to deliver a large number of casualties.
- These attacks do not seem to reflect the “Power Struggle” between Hamas and Fatah over Palestinian leadership.
- These attacks do not follow Hamas’ sanctioned “lone wolf attacks” in the Jerusalem area aiming to establish the organization as the only true “protector” of Jerusalem. Furthermore, these have not been accompanied by any rocket fire from Gaza, pointing perhaps at Hamas’ unwillingness to drag Israel into a new round of fighting in the region.
- Attacks have focused on destabilizing Israeli Society by creating fear in the population and placing heavy pressure on Israeli leadership and Defense Agencies. During the course of Israel and Hamas’ last round of conflict in 2021, Israeli Police were unable to gain control of overwhelming violence in the streets, which proved to be a focal point of frustration and loss of confidence on Israeli institutions by the public.
Israel’s adversaries have traditionally been moderated by the United States and Russia. However, current circumstances have emboldened Israel’s enemies, allowing them to escalate their aggressions.
- One of the main factors for instability in the region has been a perceived lack of leadership and deterrence from the United States. With the end of Donald Trump’s presidency came the downfall of historic diplomatic achievements for Israel in the Middle East. Trump’s presidency strengthened Israel’s position as a regional leader and brought it closer to Riyadh and the Emirate States. Biden’s White House policies brought American foreign policy back to Obama’s all time low. The Afghanistan fiasco, Nato’s new official status as the world’s second most useless organization after the UN and the complete narrative shift of American politics towards adversaries such as China and Iran, has brought the United States to a paradigm of total diplomatic weakness. In the Middle East, this weakness plays to the advantage of Israel’s enemies, further damaging the structure of regional leadership and pushing Israel into a very vulnerable position.
- Russia is one of the biggest allies of Iran. Regrettably, Israel has not been on Russia’s best side lately. When President Biden was elected, incumbent Prime Minister Naftali Bennet realized Israel would have to align itself with American left wing policies. Covid response and vaccination was the first test, and Israel made sure to be at the forefront of lockdowns, mandated vaccines and masks. Unconditional support for Ukraine is the newest currency in Biden’s administration and Bennet has gone out of his way to align Israel’s actions with the American narrative. Israel’s attempted mediation of the conflict (supposedly requested by President Zelensky himself), open criticism of Russian actions, and even threats to vote against Putin’s actions in the international community, has put Israel in a collision course with the Kremlin. Russia controls Syria’s air space, which has been the central area of conflict between Israel and Iran for several years. Iran has been trying to establish an additional front with Israel along the Syrian border and the Israeli Air Force routinely carries out air raids seeking to disrupt Iranian attempts of materializing its positions. However, Israeli air raids are only possible thanks to the generosity of Vladimir Putin. Russia has already limited Israel’s ability to enter Syrian air space in the past and even provided Syrian forces with advanced anti-aircraft missiles. Russia will certainly not hesitate to do this again. Currently, there have not been any Israeli air incursions reported in recent weeks.
- Russia’s “Revenge” may go beyond Syrian air space. Russia has often acted as a “moderator” to Iranian and Israeli aggression. They have no reason to moderate Iranian aggression this time. Unfortunately for Israel, Iran has more than a few ways to damage Israel: Hezbollah (Lebanon and Syria), Islamic Jihad and even Hamas get funding and assistance from the Shiite organization to carry out attacks in Israel and the West Bank.
- Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad fear no consequences under the current Biden administration. The Palestinian cause has only flourished under the “Oppresor vs. Oppressed” narrative led by the democratic party and mainstream media. Hamas and other organizations understand that dragging Israel into a circumstance of retaliation mostly plays to their advantage in the long term and with more and more money and donations coming in, they’ll be able to calm Palestinian suffering on the streets of Gaza.
What to Expect:
- Iran will continue to engage in indirect combat with Israel via planning, funding and assisting of terrorist attacks in Israel as it is still awaiting conclusive results from the long awaited “Vienna Talks” (perhaps the only card left by the US over Iran from the Trump era).
- Hamas and Palestinian Jihad will continue to sponsor attacks in Israel hoping top drag Israel into a response they can spin in the media for another narrative win.
- We have only experienced the beginning of this current wave of attacks as the ramadan is only about to begin, the intensity of violence is only expected to grow. U.S. Lack of deterrence and leadership will not prevent Hamas from dragging Israel into a full operational response such as the last one in 2021 if they perceive the palestinian public are ready to handle it again.
- Russia’s absence as moderator now that it perceives Israel in direct opposition will embolden Iran to carry out proxy attacks from Lebanon and Syria, which may in exchange further encourage Palestinian factions in Gaza and the West Bank to step up hostilities.
- Bennet’s bootlicking strategy towards America’s progressive agenda may ingratiate Israel with some very needed protection from mainstream “Journalism” in the battle for the narrative
- Israel’s National Police, Security Agency and Israel Defense forces are already implementing newly founded protocols as a result of 2021’s failures. These next few weeks are critical for the Israeli defense establishment to find a way to operate more efficiently in view of potential escalations ahead.
- The Israeli Public has shown a significant spike in interest for obtaining weapon carry licenses for self defense. This may be a result of normalizing Ukrainian armed civilians in the media together with Israel’s long established public resilience. This seems to be a key moment for gun ownership lobbies to push new bills as both law enforcement and political leaders have expressed consent to the idea of arming the public.
- Fatah years of relative quiet and control over the West Bank have come to an abrupt end. Palestinian Jihad and Hamas operatives have been able to gain control of key areas such as Jenin and stockpile an arsenal of weapons and explosives over the last 24 months or so. The Fatah organisation influence and leadership have significantly eroded in the streets, bringing the Palestinian public to look up to Hamas and Palestinian Jihad for guidance and protection. This is exactly what Mahmoud Abbas and Israeli leadership hoped would never happen, but has slowly been happening behind the scenes with Iranian help and money. Israel no longer has overwhelming intelligence domination in the Judea and Samaria regions, since most of its HUMINT sources are now obsolete. We can expect tensions and violence to significantly escalate in the West Bank, where Hamas is hoping to drag the IDF into complex and violent confrontations to score more Israeli casualties expecting to increase fear in Israeli society and further tensions towards its leadership. Furthermore, fatah will increase its support of violence against Israelis in an attempt to remain relevant within the Palestinian narrative.
- De facto opposition leader Ben Gavir will continue to act as a firestarter in contested areas of East Jerusalem hoping to ignite escalation in the conflict, as he perceives the outcome of violence to be in his favor from a political perspective.
Written by Bernardo C., Director of Operations, Tactical Fitness. Ret. MSG Israel National Police, Special Operations Group