The immediate future with the Palestinians will remain Hamas and company launching what they are able whenever they desire from Gaza and Mahmoud Abbas turning on different levels of violence and calm such that Israel is never quite brought to intervene militarily. All of these restraints being applied when Israeli population begins to reach their limits and demand an intervention is dependent on Mahmoud Abbas remaining the governing force. That may be less a given than some presume as eventually one of two events could change that. The first would be the Arabs in Judea and Samaria (West Bank) demanding elections as every poll indicates that in any fair election Abbas would lose and Hamas and company would take over the parliament and replace Abbas as the head of the Palestinian Authority. This would bring into effect many changes other than just a change in leadership for the Arabs; it would also break all agreements with Israel as those agreements are with Fatah and not Hamas. This would mean that any provocation would allow for an Israeli retaking of all of Judea and Samaria and either placing a moderate Arab leadership in charge replacing Hamas or simply apply military rule while considering what the next step should entail. This might come to pass sooner rather than later as Abbas is eighty years old and who can predict his future health. Further, there is always the possibility of Hamas or Islamic State challenging Fatah in an election or in a coup similar as Hamas had done in Gaza. The reason this has yet to occur is largely due to the presence of the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) to prevent just such a putsch.
Needless to point out, Israel would be forced to act should either Hamas or the Islamic State make a move to replace the theoretically more moderate Fatah leadership in Judea and Samaria. The main reason that Israel has yet to militarily intervened again in Judea and Samaria is due to Abbas restraining any level of violence when Israeli leadership appears ready to respond to demands that any violence emanating from the Arab population in Judea and Samaria reaches levels deemed unacceptable. What has been remarkable is that any level of terror is considered acceptable to the Israeli general public. The main reason that such has not triggered an immediate intervention when terror violence reached even a minimal level is that the vast majority of such violence had been targeting the Israelis residing in Area C of Judea and Samaria or East Jerusalem and not targeting Tel Aviv and surrounding population centers along the shores of the Mediterranean. Still, the Israeli population as a whole has slowly been lowering the level of terror which will be tolerated. Even the rock attacks on Israeli licensed vehicles have been restricted almost exclusively to drivers on roads beyond the Green Line in Judea and Samaria. When they began to strike vehicles within main roads within Israel proper the Israeli population reacted strongly demanding that such attacks be halted, period. This also led to interventions attempting to terminate all rock attacks within and outside of the Green Line.
Mahmoud Abbas proved beyond any doubt that he actually was controlling the recent knife attacks which had plagued much of the Old City of Jerusalem and the bordering areas of Jerusalem as well as in Judea and Samaria and was starting to wear on the collective nerves of the Israeli nation as a whole. Still, the main reason that Mahmoud Abbas called a halt to the knife attacks was after an IDF soldier killed a terrorist who had been presumably disarmed but the soldier believed the terrorist was reaching to press a detonator and detonate an explosive belt. Still the IDF command had initially charged with murder and subsequently changed the charge to manslaughter. The distressing reaction of the Prime Minister and the Minister of Defense all but trying the soldier in the media reacting with horror and charges of needless, intentional and spiteful charges against the soldier casting doubt on his claimed reason for reacting and shooting the terrorist was disturbing at the very least and unprofessional and spiteful and thus met with a fair degree of scorn from many sectors of the population. What proved interesting was that a human motion and action specialist also believed that the terrorist was actually reaching to detonate an explosive belt which would justify the soldier’s shooting. Another piece of evidence was that the soldier had walked onto the location mere moments before and had not discussed whether or not the terrorist had been searched for explosives or simply disarmed of his knife and simply subdued but not cleared of any other threat. Additionally the terrorist was wearing a heavy coat or sweater which easily could have concealed an explosives belt adding to why the soldier may have acted shooting the terrorist. Additionally the terrorist was wearing a heavy coat or sweater which easily could have concealed an explosives belt adding to why the soldier may have acted shooting the terrorist. Finally, B’Tselem, a leftist NGO and agitating influence set up the entire provocation and filmed it for the expressed purpose of hoping for just such a scenario playing out. The terrorist was incited by the NGO and brought to the site to press the situation to provoke an over-reaction from any single soldier for the expressed reason of showing Israel as an oppressive force.
The media has gone to some length to display the soldier in the worst possible light. They have made public that the soldier had stated in barracks bravado that he thought no terrorist should be taken alive. Barracks bravado rarely is indicative of soldiers’ actual actions in the field where their training and professionalism overrides stupid boastings. Further, every soldier knows that their actions will be poured over by their commanders and the legal eagles from command, something which tempers actions often to the point of overt caution all too often to the point of paralysis which has been the cause of many soldiers and too often also civilians being murdered or severely injured when an explosives belt was not discovered before detonation. There are those who will side with blaming the soldier for shooting before actually checking the terrorist and ascertaining whether he indeed had an explosive belt. There was a recent editorial which quoted Dror Zicherman’s Facebook post about just such a scenario where the soldier obeyed his orders from his ranking officer and did not shoot despite his strong suspicions. The soldier is disabled and suffering from permanent injuries and constant pain as the terrorist did have an explosive belt and detonated it murdering the officer who ordered him to hold his fire. Please take the time and read about this ordeal as it will cast a different light on the fears and apprehensions soldiers hold in such situations where they are watching a terrorist who has on a heavy leather coat who then reaches inside the coat. Second guessing a soldier’s actions after the fact is easier and what is more disturbing is when Minister of Defense Yaalon was in a similar situation during his service he reacted identically to the way our soldier acted in this instance. As far as our judgement, we are not so foolish as to make such a call as we were not there and have not had the opportunity to investigate the entire series of events and question the soldiers and others at the scene. We would tend to fall on trusting the soldier if there is any doubt as doubt in such a situation one must fall on the side supporting the actions of the soldiers at the moment. If we are unable to trust the soldiers then we need to adjust their training until they can be trusted in any situation, especially when the safety of the troops and the public is involved. In the time being all we can do is hope that the investigation will exonerate the soldier and find his actions justified.
Beyond the Cusp