The End of the Knife Attacks?

Six months ago, a Jewish couple was brutally murdered in an unprovoked, cowardly act that left their 4 children, aged 4 months to 9 years orphaned. Since then, 34 more Israelis have been killed and many more attacked and wounded, some left with permanent disabilities, in what reporters initially called “lone wolf” attacks. The name came about because even though there is always incitement, these attacks seemed to not stem from a specific organized uprising. The Israeli public have been cautious and on alert, but following surveys and polls in recent weeks, is it safe to say that the unofficially named Knife Intifada is coming to an end?

As of the first week of April, there has been a drop in the number of terror attacks, with the last significant attack taking place in Hebron two weeks ago when two soldiers were stabbed and left with light to moderate injuries. Less than 15 minutes later, one of the terrorists who lay neutralized on the ground was shot dead by a soldier who had arrived as backup. Interestingly enough, even though Palestinians were celebrating his death as a martyr, Israelis thought that there would be retaliation. Fully expecting that knifing attacks would increase, it seems that for now the opposite is true.

According to security forces in Judea and Samaria, they have heard from Palestinian officials that their citizens don’t have a desire to take revenge because the Israeli public in general were unimpressed with the behavior of the soldier.

If the attacks are indeed on the decline, it could very well be because of cooperation between Palestinian and Israeli security forces, goodwill gestures by the IDF and improved proactive measures and tactical operations.

Senior officers and commanders have told of their successes in thwarting dozens of attacks by offering incentives in an attempt to alleviate the frustration and despair that the younger Palestinians are feeling. There have been candid talks with village leaders and in one; they requested to open a back entrance to the village. The IDF agreed and it has resulted in a lowering in the number of rocks being thrown at Israeli cars there. In another, a soccer field is being built for village youth by the IDF and in yet another village, the army is coordinating the relocation of a cemetery at the request of Palestinian village leaders. They say that this will also decrease the rock-throwing incidents where Israeli cars are the targets. In an attempt to help Palestinian villagers, the IDF is also making proper parking lots for Palestinian taxis which will ease traffic congestion.

Statistics show that 90 percent of Palestinian adults have Facebook, and out of the 1.5 million users, the majority are male; some of whom have thousands of followers and use this platform to spread incitement. In joint operations between the IDF and Palestinian security forces, known inciters have been arrested. The IDF have experience a marked correlation in the drop in the number of attacks from that village. Nevertheless, nobody can predict how long this cooperation will last.

It is possible that the reduction in knife attacks is due to elite units of the IDF not allowing Palestinian pedestrians complete freedom of movement. Alternatively it could be the special cameras that detect unusual activity and alert the soldiers. The IDF is grateful for every day that there are no incidents especially following the actions of the aforementioned soldier. There has been an increase in care and treatment given to soldiers who have been serving in these high-stress situations for a long time; as that soldier had done. Extra training is being provided to make sure that other soldiers would not repeat what that individual recruit did.

The IDF aims to maintain its high moral, legal and operational standards without controversy whether the latest incitement for Intifada is waning or not.