Israel Update – Week of November 20, 2022
Terror: On Wednesday of last week, two bombs exploded in quick succession in two nearby locations in Jerusalem. The bombs were planted at bus stops and were encased in nails to enhance their lethality. The carnage was horrific. Twenty people were wounded and one person was killed, 16-year old Aryeh Schechopek, an immigrant with Canadian citizenship. He was buried that night. On Saturday night, 50-year old Tadesa Tashuma ben Ma’ada succumbed to his wounds. He, too, had immigrated to Israel, but from Ethiopia.
Israel has been experiencing a renewed bout of terrorism over the past year. So far in 2022, thirty-one Israeli soldiers and civilians have been murdered by Palestinian terrorists. This is the largest number of murders in one year since 2008. There is talk on the street of a third intifadeh — uprising — and people are looking for answers. Some pundits assert that the meteoric rise of Itamar Ben-Gvir, a right-wing nationalist politician who will soon become the Minister for National Security is a direct result of the increasing violence. The killing began earlier in the year, predominantly in large towns in pre-1967 Israel, including Hadera, Bnei Berak, and Tel Aviv. In the spring, the terror migrated into Judea and Samaria. Nineteen people were killed between March and May, setting off “Operation Wave Breaker” in which the IDF entered large Palestinian towns killing and arresting operatives.
The Jerusalem explosions were qualitatively different than the previous acts of terror in this current wave. The previous acts of terror were perpetrated using knives, guns, and automobiles. Wednesday’s bombings took Israelis back more than twenty years. Between 2000 and 2002, in what many Israelis refer to as the “Oslo War,” bombs were the weapon of choice. Most of the time the explosives were worn as vests by suicide bombers, who were promised a large number of virgins and an eternity in paradise in exchange for their sacrifice. In 2002 alone, more than 200 Israelis were killed in 47 suicide bombings. Pat downs at entrances to malls, restaurants, and buses became de rigueur. Israelis willingly relinquished their rights in order to purchase a modicum of safety. The bombings stopped only after Israel built a wall separating Judea and Samaria – the breeding ground for most of the bombers – from the rest of Israel.
Last week’s bombing stands out not only in the weapon that was used but in the way it was carried out. Nearly all of the acts of terror in 2022 were performed by a lone terrorist. Finding the “lone wolf” before he acts is extremely difficult. In cases of car rammings, in which no weapon per se is used, it is nearly impossible to find the terrorist before he strikes. Last week’s bombing was different in that it could not have been performed by a lone terrorist. The planning and the operation were simply too complex for one person. Both bombs were remotely operated. They were located in two different parts of the city. Setting off the two bombs in less than thirty minutes required large amounts of intelligence and hardware. The bombings looked more like a special op than grass-roots terror.
Something else stands out: Typically, immediately after an act of terror, some terrorist group takes responsibility, and shortly after that, celebrations break out in areas associated with the responsible terror organization. After the Jerusalem bombings, no organization took responsibility and no celebrating occurred. Israel has been seeking out the perpetrators for about a week, and so far nothing has turned up.
I am not a conspiracy theorist but a thought did cross my mind. Over the past few years, scientists and other “people of interest” in Iran have been dying in mysterious circumstances. While a finger is most often pointed at Israel, no conclusive proof has ever been brought forth linking Israel to the deaths, and Israel has never publicly admitted any wrong-doing. Whoever is responsible for the deaths is content to sit back and watch the Iranians chase their own tails looking for some kind of lead. Iran has always threatened a “deadly response,” but as far as anyone knows, none has transpired. Israelis have been on high alert, waiting for Iranian missiles that have so far never come. But what if the Iranians have decided to play a similar game – a game in which deep intelligence assets are provided with high-tech weapons and strategic targets? In this game, anonymity is the goal.
We can strike anywhere at anytime.
What if Israel has entered a new phase of her hypothetical shadow war with Iran? If this is the case, then things could, hypothetically, get much hotter.