Op-Ed: Is Israel on the Brink of War with Palestinian Arab Terrorists (Yet Again)?


Palestinian Arab terrorists opened fire on Israeli Jews living in outer Jerusalem on International Holocaust Memorial Day.

One of the mass-casualty attacks struck a synagogue in the middle of evening prayer services ushering in the Jewish Sabbath. Seven were killed and others were wounded in the deadliest terrorist attack by Palestinian Arabs in about 15 years.

Elsewhere, a 13-year-old boy-turned-gunman shot at Israeli Jews in a crowded street, injuring two people before an Israeli Jewish civilian with a private firearm license quickly returned fire and neutralized him.

The wave of murderous violence comes just days after an Israel Defense Force operation on Jan. 26 in the Palestinian Arab city of Jenin located in the Yehudah v’ Shomron region (also referred to as the West Bank).

The IDF stated that it sought to foil an imminent attack by a local cell of the deadly terrorist organization, the Palestinian Islamic Jihad. During the hours-long raid, IDF military forces were attacked by Palestinian Arab gunmen and others. The terrorists shot at Israeli soldiers from the roofs and from the streets; they even destroyed an IDF drone mid-flight. Returning fire, the IDF operators killed nine Palestinian Arabs and wounded others. Only one of those killed seems to have been an uninvolved civilian and not a gunman or other combatant or belligerent.

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In response, the following day Palestinian Arab terrorists launched a barrage of rockets out of the Gaza Strip into southern Israel. In retaliation, the Israeli Air Force carried out sorties against Gazan terrorists — namely Hamas — including the successful bombing of an underground rocket workshop.

And now, acts of murderous violence are erupting all over Israel. Besides the aforementioned terrorist shootings that left seven dead — including a 15-year-old boy — a Palestinian Arab gunman opened fire on an Israeli Jewish restaurant outside of Jericho in the Yehudah v’ Shomron area. Fortunately, his weapon jammed after the first bullet was fired, and he fled. Israeli security forces have launched a manhunt for the shooter.

In response, senior Israeli police officials have raised the terror alert status to the highest level, and they are even encouraging private citizens with firearm licensing to carry weapons. (Isn’t it interesting that when there are mass shootings in Israel, the government encourages our trained and licensed private citizens to arm themselves and carry guns? But in the United States, President Joe Biden and his Democratic allies seek to disarm the population. Biden even called once again for an “assault weapon” ban.)

On my end — as a reservist in an IDF special forces unit — I am checking my military bag of tactical gear and waiting for orders from my officers. I already have standing orders for a short deployment to start in a week; now we see if I will be deployed ahead of schedule.

And what was the response of the Palestinian Arab civilian community in the West Bank and Gaza to these heinous acts of mass murder on International Holocaust Memorial Day?

Widespread raucous celebration.

The Palestinian Arabs have turned the atrocity into a holiday, complete with the masses dancing in the streets, passing out treats and goodies, shooting guns in the air, and even setting off rounds of celebratory fireworks.

Can you imagine entire cities coming out to cheer on the Sandy Hook shooter?

Can you picture fireworks bursting over Toronto after the Boston Marathon was bombed?

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Can you envision a dance party in Mexico City after the Orlando nightclub shooting?

Or how about this analogy: What would happen if Jewish terrorists shot innocent men, women and children in a mosque over Ramadan, and then Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, along with the Jewish communities of New York and Los Angeles, erupted in near-riotous celebration?

And yet that’s the reality we must face here in Israel with the Palestinian Arab population centers located in some cases literally side-by-side with Jewish infrastructure.

To be sure, not all Palestinian Arab civilians support terrorist organizations or these acts of violence. However, the percentage that does is alarmingly high. Most Palestinian Arab media polls indicate that acts of murderous violence against Israeli Jews have the support of a clear majority of the population (in some cases as high as 80 percent). In fact, a December poll indicated that 72 percent of all Palestinian Arabs supported the creation and operation of more “armed groups” (i.e., violent terror cells).

This is the nightmare that the Israeli government — and in particular the IDF — must face. There are over 5 million Palestinian Arabs living in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank. That means that there are up to 4 million Palestinian Arabs there who openly support violence (if not with actual violent actions, then with political, financial, logistic or even just popular support). On the other hand, there are easily 1 million Palestinian Arab civilians who want to live peacefully.

And they all live together in the same cities and neighborhoods. It’s nearly impossible to distinguish between promoters of violence and adherents of peace until the bullets start flying.

Even worse, Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad and other terror groups are fully aware of this reality. They effectively hold their own citizens hostages and use them as human shields (which is a war crime), intentionally operating in civilian areas in order to induce Israeli retaliatory strikes with civilian collateral damage and therefore bad headlines from international legacy media outlets (like CNN, MSNBC and The Associated Press).

The grim reality is that Israel has thus far been unable to implement a viable solution to this ongoing dilemma. The Trump peace plan (known as the “Peace to Prosperity” plan) was hailed by both Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and even moderate left-wing political contender Benny Gantz as an excellent strategy. But at present the plan has stalled, although Netanyahu and his coalition of right-wing allies have recently discussed the annexation of the Jordan River Valley region, a key element of the plan.

In the meantime, however, the unsustainable status quo persists in the land of Israel — an area the size of New Jersey.

Palestinian Arab terrorists continue their agenda of genocidal murder in an effort to eradicate the only Jewish state, with the celebratory support of the majority of their population. The Israeli government and military respond with surgical-style limited military and police actions that Israelis often pessimistically refer to as “mowing the lawn.” And on an individual level, I examine the contents of my olive-green tactical bag of equipment prior to a reserve military deployment while my wife calls our friends and loved ones in the areas of known attacks, praying that they are all safe.

Is Israel on the edge of yet another full-scale war with Palestinian Arab terrorist organizations?

Inevitably and eventually.

And to perhaps perversely quote the famous adage of Rabbi Hillel from over 2,000 years ago: “If not now… when?”

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Ben Kerido is an American-Israeli special forces operator and former U.S. Department of Defense contractor focusing on psychological warfare training and now serving in the Israel Defense Force reserves. He and his wife Sarai live in Jerusalem and are writers for Intrepid Tower Publishing and hosts of the "From Israel with Love" podcast. They are also the authors of five books, including "The American Holocaust: Early Tomorrow Morning," an Orwell-style thriller and satirical parody of the American and Middle Eastern political and military arenas.