Israeli driver narrowly escapes Arab lynch mob in Gush Etzion
An Israeli man narrowly escaped a lynch mob which had formed near the town of Tekoa in eastern Gush Etzion, south of Jerusalem, over the weekend.
Even an armored police jeep came under assault, and was forced to call up the IDF for backup.
One Israeli driver who ran into the roadblock before the IDF deployed soldiers to take control of the situation came under a barrage of rocks and bricks, hurled by the masked Arab terrorists.
As can be seen in footage released by Channel 2 on Monday, the Arabs spotted the driver as he made his way towards the roadblock, and formed a lynch mob, hoping to block his escape and force him out of his car.
“They smelled me a kilometer away,” said the man, a resident of Tekoa. “They had made a roadblock there, and it was impossible to pass. Right away I drew my gun and cocked it, so they would see that I was armed – but that didn’t stop them at all.”
Luckily, however, the driver was able to pass through the roadblock when the assailants ran towards his car in an attempt to surround him. (Israel Video Network)
Watch the video:
Three arrested near Temple Mount after clash with police
Three Palestinians were arrested in Jerusalem’s Old City on Sunday night after violence erupted in two separate locations adjacent to the Temple Mount.
According to the police, a local security force called to two young men who were next to the Council Gate (Bab al-Majlis) and who ignored the calls. An argument then broke and soon turned into a violent confrontation.
A large local crowd gathered and threw objects at the police. One officer was lightly injured, treated at the scene and taken to the hospital. The two men were arrested.
At the same time, clashes erupted next to the Chain Gate (Bab al-Silsala), with one man arrested.
Last month, violence broke in the Old City next to entrances to the Temple Mount compound. The Israel Police had installed metal detectors at those entrances, following a terrorist attack in which two Israeli policemen were killed. Thirteen days later, Israel decided to remove the security devices and tensions were eased. (Jerusalem Post)
Baby lightly injured in West Bank rock-throwing attack
A one-year-old baby was lightly wounded on Sunday when Palestinians threw rocks at a bus he was traveling in with his mother in the West Bank
The attack took place near the Karmei Tzur settlement in the southern West Bank, near Hebron, the Magen David Adom said.
Fragments of glass cut the baby’s arm and he was taken by ambulance to Shaare Zedek Medical Center in Jerusalem for care, the medical service said.
The army said it was aware of the incident and troops had been deployed to locate the rock throwers. (the Times of Israel)
More Likud support emerges for Netanyahu, but key allies mum
Several Likud ministers on Sunday afternoon expressed public support for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu amid developments in the ongoing corruption probes against him, hours after the premier made a subtle jab at his ministers for their lackluster support.
Likud ministers Gilad Erdan and Gila Gamliel, and former Likud minister and Netanyahu rival Gideon Sa’ar, all urged the public to withhold judgment until the courts issue rulings in the graft probes involving the prime minister.
They joined Likud ministers Yisrael Katz, Miri Regev, Ayoub Kara, and Tzachi Hanegbi, as well as Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely, in rallying round Netanyahu. Notably silent, however, were Netanyahu confidants and Likud ministerial bigwigs Yuval Steinitz, Zeev Elkin and Yariv Levin, and Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein.
“The prime minister is leading the State of Israel responsibly and professionally and we must support him in light of the political and media attacks against him,” Erdan, the public security minister, said. “The claims the prime minister is guilty until proven otherwise are ludicrous and have no place in a democratic state.”
Gamliel, who holds the social equality portfolio, urged the public to “lower the flames.”
“Let the authorities do their jobs and give the prime minister the presumption of innocence that he legally deserves, like every other citizen in Israel,” she said.
Sa’ar, seen as a future challenger to Netanyahu, also came to the prime minister’s defense.
“There are no grounds for the prime minister to resign, and this is wrong,” wrote Sa’ar in a Facebook post, adding that he hopes Netanyahu is ultimately cleared of any wrongdoing.
With Netanyahu facing increasing pressure, as police appeared close to recommending indictments in two corruption investigations against him, several Likud ministers came to his defense Sunday morning, but many chose to stay out of the fray.
Ari Harow, a former key associate of the prime minister, signed a deal on Friday to turn state’s witness, a day after police explicitly said for the first time that the investigations involving Netanyahu revolve around “bribery, fraud and breach of trust.”
During the public part of Sunday’s weekly cabinet meeting in Jerusalem, Netanyahu ignored the developments, instead focusing on Monday’s visit to Israel of the president of Togo and a new biometric identification system. He only mentioned the investigations briefly afterward, during his closed-door comments to ministers.
“I want to thank our ministers,” Netanyahu said in his comments on the intense media coverage of the probes, according to coalition sources, “those who gave interviews.”
The comment was understood by some to be a dig at the majority of his ministers, including most of those within his own Likud party, who had avoided public statements or interviews on the issue.
Arriving at the meeting, only one of the 22 ministers agreed to speak with reporters outside the cabinet room.
Culture Minister Miri Regev, one of the few who have given interviews in support of the prime minister, said she was “not worried and neither is the prime minster” about the recent developments.
Breaking the recent silence of the Likud party’s junior coalition partners, Jewish Home chairman Naftali Bennett later expressed ongoing support for the government, saying he hoped the probes would end “without indictment.”
“Israel needs stability and we need to support the national government, and we are committed to its continuation,” Bennett said in a statement.
“The prime minister is presumed innocent and I hope that the investigation will conclude without an indictment,” Bennett, the education minister, said, while urging that others refrain from “pressuring” law enforcement officials.
Agriculture Minister Uri Ariel and his fellow Jewish Home MK Betzalel Smotrich said in a statement that Netanyahu need not resign even if indicted, echoing comments in recent days by Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked.
On Friday, Hebrew media reported that police would recommend filing indictments against Netanyahu in two cases — Case 1000 and Case 2000 — as the investigations appear to be strengthened by “significant material” provided by Harow, the prime minister’s former chief of staff.
A police recommendation does not carry legal weight; it is for state prosecutors to decide whether to press charges.
In Case 1000, Netanyahu and his wife, Sara, are suspected of receiving illicit gifts from billionaire benefactors, most notably hundreds of thousands of shekels’ worth of cigars and champagne from the Israeli-born Hollywood producer Arnon Milchan.
Case 2000 involves a suspected illicit quid pro quo deal between Netanyahu and Yedioth Ahronoth publisher Arnon Mozes that would have seen the prime minister hobble a rival daily, the Sheldon Adelson-backed Israel Hayom, in return for more favorable coverage from Yedioth.
Netanyahu denies any wrongdoing.
After the cabinet meeting, Hotovely said that the media was trying to force Netanyahu out of office without allowing him a fair trial.
“It’s legitimate to criticize the government. It’s not legitimate to force a pre-written judgment on the legal authorities,” she said in a statement.
Shaked, of Bennett’s Jewish Home party, has said the law does not require a prime minister to step down unless convicted of a crime carrying moral turpitude. Ministers have to step down if indicted, but not prime ministers, she said — an opinion not universally accepted by legal experts.
Shaked told Channel 2 on Saturday that she was opposed to bringing down the government, but there were ethical implications if Netanyahu was indicted.
“If we arrive at a situation in which an indictment is served, the coalition parties will sit down and consider what to do,” she said.
Netanyahu’s predecessor Ehud Olmert stepped down in 2009 ahead of being indicted on graft charges; he was later convicted, and served 16 months in jail before his release last month.
In a video posted Friday evening, hours after the deal with Harrow was announced, Netanyahu said the investigations against him were “background noise” and that he was focused on working on behalf of Israeli citizens. (the Times of Israel)
Netanyahu’s wife close to being charged over expense scandals
Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit is reportedly close to indicting Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s wife Sara Netanyahu for diverting public money for her private housekeeping expenses, according to an Israeli television report Monday.
Sara Netanyahu was interrogated at National Fraud Squad headquarters near Tel Aviv last week over allegations she used public money for personal housekeeping expenses at the couple’s official and private residences.
According to Channel 2 news, Sara Netanyahu is facing charges on four separate cases, with her husband facing deepening legal woes in unrelated criminal investigations. Mandelblit is expected to announce the charges in coming days, according to the report.
She is suspected of improper behavior and misuse of state funds relating to the Prime Minister’s Residence, including receiving goods under false pretenses, falsifying documents, and breach of trust.
There was no immediate confirmation from the attorney general’s office, which was unreachable.
The Justice Ministry said in a statement that the report was premature.
“We want to clarify that at this stage the attorney general has not yet made a decision on the case,” the statement read. “When a decision is made, after the end of the investigation that was ordered by the attorney general, a public statement will be made, as is the accepted practice.”
According to Channel 2, the first charge involves the hiring of electrician Avi Fahima, a Likud Central Committee member. A committee charged with overseeing residence expenditures — which included the Prime Minister’s Office legal adviser — ruled against the hiring of Fahima, but he was employed nonetheless.
Further allegations relate to the use of state funds for purchasing furniture designated for the Caesarea home. The furniture was apparently purchased for the official residence in Jerusalem and then moved to the Netanyahu home, while their older furniture was taken to the Prime Minister’s Residence to replace it.
The prime minister’s wife is also suspected of improper use of state funds for medical care for her late father, Shmuel Ben-Artzi. And she is also suspected of routinely making false reports that the family was entertaining guests, or exaggerated the number of guests, at the prime minster’s residence in order to receive catering services at the expense of the state.
The cost to the state is estimated at hundreds of thousands of shekels over a period of many years.
Police recommended an indictment in May 2016.
The decision to launch the investigation came in light of the state prosecutor’s recommendation, after allegations were raised in a report February 2015 by State Comptroller Yosef Shapira that detailed lavish spending by Netanyahu and his wife at their official residence in Jerusalem, as well as at their private home in Caesarea.
Sara Netanyahu’s lawyer Yossi Cohen called the allegations “ridiculous.”
“How far will the persecution of the Netanyahu family go? As far as the cup of tea that an employee of the residence gave Mrs. Netanyahu’s 97-year old father on his death bed while he lived in their home,” he said in a statement aired by Channel 2 in response to the report.
Netanyahu has consistently denied any wrongdoing and has claimed in the past that she is a victim of a plot to topple the prime minister and that former employees have been paid to testify against her. (the Times of Israel)
In first, court revokes citizenship of Arab Israeli car-ramming attacker
The Haifa Magistrate’s Court on Sunday revoked the citizenship of an Arab Israeli man convicted of carrying out a combined stabbing and car-ramming attack that seriously injured an IDF soldier as well as three others last year.
The ruling marked the first time Israel has stripped an Arab Israeli of citizenship over terror charges, activists said.
The court was responding to a request from Interior Minister Aryeh Deri.
Alaa Raed Ahmad Zayoud was convicted of four counts of attempted murder after he rammed an Israeli soldier, seriously injuring her, and then stepped out of the car to stab three others, causing them light to moderate wounds, on October 11, 2015.
The attack took place on Route 65 near the entrance to Kibbutz Gan Shmuel, northeast of Hadera, in the midst of a wave of stabbing, shooting and car-ramming attacks. He was sentenced to 25 years in prison in June last year.
The court ruled that after Zayoud’s citizenship is revoked in October he will be given a temporary status, as exists in citizenship laws, and that it will be extended from time to time at the discretion of the interior minister after he has completed his sentence.
The Adalah NGO said it would file a Supreme Court appeal of what it called a “dangerous precedent,” along with the Association for Civil Rights in Israel.
“Alaa Zayoud will be left stateless, in contravention of international law,” Adalah said in a statement.
Deri, last May, filed a request with the court to revoke Zayoud’s citizenship. The move had also been green-lighted by the attorney general. Zayoud is a resident of the Arab Israeli city of Umm al-Fahm. At the time, Deri said he had also informed the family that the ministry would not renew the residency of Zayoud’s Palestinian father, who is not an Israeli citizen.
Deputy president of the Haifa Magistrate’s Court Avraham Elyakim said in his ruling that the measure was “suitable and proportional.”
“For every citizen, alongside his rights, there are commitments,” Elyakim reasoned. “One of them is the significant and important commitment to maintain loyalty to the state, which is given expression also in the commitment to not carry out terror acts to harm its residents and their security.
“We cannot allow an Israeli citizen to impact the lives and dignity of other Israeli citizens, and whoever decides to do so in acts of terror removes himself from the general society of the country,” he added.
Deri said the decision will help prevent future attacks, Channel 2 new reported.
“The court decision strengthens the deterrent and strengthens our campaign to protect the security of the country,” Deri said in a statement. “The decision states unequivocally that anyone who harms the state or its citizens can’t be a part of it.”
Zayoud had admitted to investigators that his attack was “nationalistically motivated,” a police term indicating a terror attack. His confession marks a retraction from his initial claim that the attack was an accidental car collision, and the stabbings an act of self-defense after he was attacked by onlookers.
In his testimony, Zayoud told investigators he wished to kill himself by killing Jews. (the Times of Israel)
New IAF chief must build on past success to face future challenges
As local and regional instability spikes, this coming week will see a major change to one of Israel’s oases of calm: the air force. In theory, one commander succeeding another is an ordinary matter, but nonetheless, outgoing Maj. Gen. Amir Eshel is ending an usually long and successful term as Israeli Air Force commander. His successor, Maj. Gen. Amikam Norkin, currently head of the IDF Planning Directorate, will have to make quick decisions on a number of matters at a time when there are more questions than answers.
Eshel’s term garnered less public credit than it perhaps deserved. In the five years and three months he commanded the IAF, Eshel instituted changes the like of which are equaled only by those made by the late Maj. Gen. Benny Peled, who commanded the IAF during the 1973 Yom Kippur War. But unlike Peled, who was forced to make changes in response to the trauma of the war, Eshel took the initiative to improve IAF capabilities and overcome limitations.
Eshel’s reformations focused on five main areas: Leading Israel’s covert operations in the Middle East in an inter-war period with an emphasis on thwarting the transfer of weapons to terrorist organizations; reorganizing the IAF’s operational center, with an emphasis on linking intelligence, targets, and bombs, making it many times more productive in times of emergency; executing changes mandated by new, innovative technologies ranging from the F-35 fighter jet to new types of drone aircraft to cyber systems; implementing a multilayer vision of air defense that included bringing the David’s Sling ground-based defense system into operation and establishing an additional company to operate the existing Iron Dome system; and deepening the IAF’s cooperation with Israel’s ground forces, such as when Eshel personally commanded air support missions to assist Golani Brigade forces in trouble during Operation Protective Edge in the Gaza Strip in the summer of 2014.
But Eshel’s influence extended beyond the air force. He was an important figure in the General Staff headquarters, and one of the generals closest to IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Gadi Eizenkot, who wanted Eshel as his second-in-command. Eshel, who believed he had no chance of ever being appointed chief of staff, preferred to retire. It is doubtful that his retirement from the military marks a departure from public service. In the past, suggestions have been floated that he be appointed to the Mossad or the National Security Council, but it’s also possible that a diplomatic posting, as Israel’s ambassador to Washington or to the U.N. could serve as a springboard into civilian life, or even politics.
Eshel’s seniority, which stem from his age (58), experience, and character, made him a heavyweight, and not just in the IDF, but also when dealing with other branches of the defense and security establishment and with the top political echelon. He was never prepared to take anything for granted or because “that’s what was decided”; everything needed a reason and context. Eshel never hesitated to approach the prime minister, defense minister, or the cabinet with arguments or appeals. Often, he brought them over to his way of thinking.
The new posting will also be a test for Norkin. He is younger than Eshel (51), less experienced, and despite his self-confidence, he will be facing difficult situations in which he will need to block plenty of whims, and do so knowing that some people might call him a coward or delusional. The IAF has a unique role in the country’s defense, and its commander — Norkin, starting next Monday — is not only an operational decision-maker, but also a strategist who often has to do not only what is possible, but what is desirable.
Like Eshel, Norkin is close to the IDF chief, who picked him to succeed Eshel because he combines the ability to plan with the ability to carry out plans. The two worked closely together when Eizenkot was head of the IDF’s Operations Directorate during the 2006 Second Lebanon War, and Norkin — head of the IAF’s Operations Directorate, a role he concluded after the attack on Syria’s nuclear reactor in 2007, which has been attributed to Israel.
Eizenkot also gives Norkin a lot of credit for leading the implementation of the IDF’s “Gideon” multiyear work plan. But that plan explicitly makes the ground forces a priority, and as head of the IAF, Norkin will have to live with it and all its implications on the air force’s budget, training, supplies, and personnel.
The decisions Norkin will be making in the near future will determine the face of the IAF for decades to come. These include the question of whether to acquire more F-35s, beyond the 50 that Israel has already agreed to buy; switching out the IAF’s fleet of helicopters; purchasing more fueling and cargo aircraft; closing bases — Ramat David in Northern Israel and Sde Dov at the north end of Tel Aviv — while leaving breathing room for emergencies; reducing training time for some squadrons and moving them to flight simulators in response to changes expected as the F-35 stealth fighters are integrated into the IAF; and reducing the number of reservist pilots.
These are only a few of the issues Norkin will have to address. In addition, there is the matter of to what extent the IAF’s technical systems should be privatized; significant challenges in maintaining quality personnel not only in the flight crews, but also in air defense and intelligence; and even questions about service conditions, such as whether the family accommodations at the Tel Nof, Hatzor, and Palmachim bases should be shut down.
Alongside these decisions, Norkin will have to direct the IAF in an operational environment that is growing ever more complicated, given the Russian presence, with its advanced aircraft and anti-aircraft systems, and the concern that despite coordination, Israel could wind up in a confrontation with Russia; the simultaneous presence of the U.S., which demands closer coordination and oversight; and the growing strength of Hezbollah, including weapons that pose a challenge for the air force; along with the standard operational challenges of actions in densely populated areas, such as Gaza, that will require the IAF to develop weapons that will allow for precision strikes in urban areas and limit collateral damage as much as possible.
Because the IAF is so important, Norkin has a central, special role to play in the nation’s defense for the next few years. From now on, the responsibility for all the tools that give Israel deterrence and victory lies on his shoulders. (Israel Hayom)
In Israel, as anywhere, objectivity, balance, multiple voices are critical to credible journalism
by Mark Leibler the Australian
Former Middle East correspondent for The Australian John Lyons is right that objectivity doesn’t come easy when reporting from Israel
His explanation for the claim, however, is not that information is harder to obtain in a conflict zone or that agendas are often opaque. but that Lyons says he found it hard to do his job because the Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council called him out because it believed his reporting often lacked objectivity.
Of course journalists should report “what they see”, as Lyons says, but good journalists know they must also give meaning to what they see, provide context, and attempt to provide relevant perspectives in a balanced and fair way.
This leaves questions to answer: in our opinion, some of Lyons’ journalism features a propensity to rely on sources highly critical of Israel; tends to portray Israeli security measures without explaining their justification; and reports Palestinian allegations of mistreatment without giving Israel adequate opportunity to respond.
Promoting his new memoir, Balcony over Jerusalem, Lyons says AIJAC wields too much influence over journalists covering Israel.
As a mainstream Jewish community organisation working to facilitate positive Australia/Israel relations; to increase awareness of Israel’s security challenges; and to progress a two-state Israeli-Palestinian peace we engage politicians, the media and business to try to promote greater understanding of complex issues.
Lyons not only objects to this expression of free speech but his book denigrates as “polluting Australian public opinion” journalists who take part in fact-finding study visits to Israel and return with a different interpretation to his.
I’d encourage Lyons to take this up with respected journalists from diverse media organisations, including his own, who have participated in these visits and attest to their balance and educational value.
Far from obstructing objectivity, AIJAC’s aim is to build more informed understanding and fairness in an environment where journalists can readily cross the line into activism, a professional digression so serious that journalists often can’t admit it even to themselves.
Neither in his column nor his memoir does Lyons mention an encounter he had with Bob Carr in 2012, chronicled in Carr’s Diary of a Foreign Minister. Carr recalls arriving at a function in Jerusalem hosted by my brother, Isi Leibler, and being ambushed outside by Lyons and his wife. Carr describes the encounter as “an eerie pantomime” in which he felt Lyons wanted to present his attendance as “some conspiracy between the Australian government and the Israeli right-wing”. *
As it happened, Carr’s media adviser was able to present Lyons with the list of guests my brother had invited, including a range of people described by Carr as “moderate Israelis”.
In response to our legitimate articulation of an alternative viewpoint on the Middle East, Lyons has devoted a chapter of his memoir to falsely portraying AIJAC as an extreme, hardline mouthpiece for the Israeli Right.
Is this the same AIJAC that sponsors programs for prominent Israeli Labor leaders to visit Australia, as part of our efforts to expose people from both countries to counterparts from across the political and social spectrum?
Is this the same AIJAC that issued a media release in February this year openly criticising Israeli legislation that would retrospectively legalise settlement outposts on land owned by Palestinians?
In a healthy democracy, holding the media to account is arguably as important as holding politicians to account.
Lyons ended his comment piece by quoting hard-left Israeli journalist Akiva Eldar’s demonising of AIJAC and saying the Australian government as did “not (give) a shit” about his children. Nothing could be further from the truth.
Lyons also describes as a hero another Israeli journalist even more extreme than Eldar, Haaretz’s Gideon Levy, an advocate of economic, artistic and academic boycotts against Israel. That’s like forming your view of Australia from Green Left Weekly.
It’s sad that Lyons’ response to the normal functioning of interest groups in a pluralist democracy is so vitriolic but it does demonstrate the value of AIJAC and others in advancing additional evidence and alternative views to his.
* Lyons says he was not present when Carr arrived at the function but his wife Sylvie Le Clezio was on hand to take photographs for The Australian
Mark Leibler is senior partner at Arnold Bloch Leibler and national chairman of the Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council
Reasons the Temple Mount crisis did not explode
by Herb Keinon The Jerusalem Post
The crisis that began three weeks ago with the murder of two border policeman near the Temple Mount did not ignite – for the time being – a third intifada.
Within a week, the country’s headlines shifted from the crisis on the Temple Mount to reports that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s once-trusted aide Ari Harow was about to turn state’s witness.
Within seven days, the palpable tension a jittery nation felt last week – over whether the Friday Muslim prayers at al-Aksa Mosque would trigger a third intifada – gave way to other news: Harow; Elor Azaria; the plight of the workers at Haifa Chemicals and at Teva; the Gay pride parade in Jerusalem; the Facebook feud between Netanyahu’s son, Yair, and Ariel Olmert, the son of Ehud Olmert, triggered by the younger Netanyahu’s alleged failure to pick up after his dog.
The emphasis here must be on the words “for the time being,” because the situation is still highly unstable and could change any minute. But, at least at this particular moment, the crisis that began three weeks ago with the murder of two border policeman near the Temple Mount – and snowballed into a full blown crisis with the installation and later removal of metal detectors at the site – did not ignite a third intifada.
Why not? Why did this crisis not trigger the same paroxysm of violence that the opening of the Western Wall tunnels did in 1996; that Ariel Sharon’s visit to the Temple Mount did in 2000; or the lie that the Jews were planning to take over the Temple Mount did in 2015?
There are a number of reasons. The first has to do with the wider power play throughout the Middle East. Former National Security Council deputy head Eran Lerman has in the past divided the region into four camps – Iran, Islamic State, the Muslim Brotherhood, and the Camp of Stability – saying that each of these is vying for control of the Middle East.
Muslim worshipers pray in protest outside of Temple Mount (Jeremy Sharon)
Muslim worshipers pray in protest outside of Temple Mount (Jeremy Sharon)
According to Lerman, all the struggles in the region – from Libya to Yemen and culminating in Syria – can be seen through the prism of this titanic battle between the camps for Mideast hegemony.
But one not need look as far afield as Libya, Yemen or Syria to see this competition; it can also be seen in Jerusalem.
Islamic State was not a player in the recent events in Jerusalem, but the other three camps were. The Iran and the Muslim Brotherhood camps, on one hand, had an interest in inflaming the passions and creating chaos and violence, while the countries in the Camp of Stability – states like Israel, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and Egypt – had an interest in containing the violence.
Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Egypt have no interest now in fanning the flames of a holy war in Jerusalem, because that could stir up passions which may be difficult to control in their own street. It could also deflect attention from their primary fights with Iran and radical Islamic terrorism.
The Muslim Brotherhood camp – which includes Hamas, Turkey and Qatar – did have an interest in fanning the flames. Thus there were the calls from Hamas for violence and “days of rage” and the incendiary comments by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
In this “Game of the Camps,” the Palestinian Authority sees itself in the Camp of Stability. And it wants to be seen as on the side of the Saudis, Jordanians and Egyptians, rather than on the side of Iran or Hamas. The problem is that this also put them on the side of Israel, not a comfortable place for them to be.
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas cut off security cooperation with Israel. And Fatah – like Hamas – called for days of rage. But Abbas stepped back from calling for a full-blown uprising over the issue, heeding reported calls from the Saudis, Jordanians and Egyptians to contain the crisis.
There are two other points to note in asking why the Temple Mount crisis did not spiral into a third intifada.
The first is an apparent lack of will on the Palestinian street; the second is a lack of capability.
Regarding will, the Arab Spring of 2011 revealed the masses did not take to the streets and confront the sources of power in countries which faced huge, dramatic problems in the recent past; not in Lebanon, not in Algeria and not among the Palestinians.
Some have interpreted this as evidence that those publics were still tired and worn out from their previous rounds of conflict, and that there was little appetite among the rank-and-file for more prolonged, violent confrontation that they would bear the brunt of. In short, they are not rushing out looking for new barricades to man.
And then there’s the issue of capabilities. Those who feared a third lethal intifada would erupt over the current crisis with the same degree of violence had forgotten that much has changed since the second intifada flared 17 years ago.
The Palestinian weapons factories, the bomb-making workshops – the pure amounts of weaponry that existed in the West Bank back in 2000 – are not there now anywhere near to the same degree they were then. Endless IDF raids looking for weapons, factories and suspects have left their mark on capabilities.
The desire among some Palestinians to blow up buses and kill Jews has not been extinguished. What has changed is their ability to manufacture the bombs and suicide vests – and the ability to smuggle them, along with the terrorists to trigger their weapons, into Israel. The Palestinians don’t have the lethal capabilities now which they had in 2000.
That is why the weapon of choice of Palestinians terrorists these days is a butcher knife. Those the IDF cannot get rid of.