From North to South, Israelis Focus on Security

Israelis living in the West Bank are planning a protest march calling for tougher security measures following a month fraught with deadly terror attacks on a particular stretch of highway.

The march, scheduled for Sunday, will follow the main highway in the West Bank beginning in Kiryat Gat and continuing 8 miles (13 kilometers) to Othniel, where Rabbi Micky Mark was killed July 1, 2016 in a drive-by shooting.

The protest will take place as the Israeli military has two West Bank villages under lockdown following yet another shooting Saturday night. An Israeli motorist was moderately injured and remained hospitalized in Jerusalem on Sunday. The shooter fled the scene.

“Enough! The ‘Lone Wolf Intifada’ has come out of its recess and returned with guns,” Davidi Perl, head of the Etzion bloc regional council, said in a statement. “The prime minister and defense minister need to make a dramatic change on the ground. We must return the security to the citizens of the State of Israel.”

In the past week, soldiers in the West Bank have also come under attack. The army said three soldiers were lightly injured in a car-ramming attack on Wednesday while on Tuesday soldiers shot and injured a Palestinian woman who attempted to stab one of them near Ariel.

The Israel Security Agency, Shin Bet, reported that while the overall number of terror attacks is down, the number of fatalities is up. Attacks began increasing in August, when 171 were documented, and rose sharply in September and October, with 223 and 620 attacks recorded in those months respectively. But the overall number of attacks began a steady decrease to 103 in June, albeit with five fatalities. Since October 2015, 35 Israelis and four others have been killed and hundreds more injured in a wave of Palestinian attacks.

Meanwhile in the North, Israel is investigating how a Jordanian citizen crossed the border into Israel on Friday and threw rocks at a moving car causing the driver to crash.

Rotem Aharoni was injured in the attack and hospitalized. After her car crashed, the Jordanian ran over to the car but Aharoni fought him off until he was scared away by another driver who came to her aid. It is unclear what his intentions were.

The man was caught and arrested shortly after, but the IDF is frantically investigating how both local army outposts and the touch-sensitive fence missed the infiltration. The Jordanian managed to walk nearly 1.5 miles into Israeli territory before he was caught. The IDF later said he is thought to be mentally ill.

Nevertheless, residents were concerned that the man was able to pass unchecked through several communities.

“He could just as easily have entered one of the kibbutzim,” said one resident. “Our kids are on summer break now, we don’t even want to think what could have happened.”

Security officials from the Jordan Valley say the infiltration is the result of the IDF focusing on other terrorism hotspots, such as the West Bank and the Gaza border. But community leaders in the North are unnerved by this apparent slip in border security.

“If this guy really is from Jordan, this event needs to act as a big red light, especially since the IDF didn’t know about him,” Emek HaYarden Regional Council Head Idan Greenbum said. “We’re going to have to sit down with the army and get some answers.”