Incitement to violence and hatred of Jews is the mother’s milk of the latest Intifada
Israelis have endured yet another week of nonstop terrorism.
As we’ve noted in a number of prior posts, the ongoing attacks are a consequence of a “systematic Palestinian incitement to violence”. Really it’s nothing new. But in recent weeks it’s involved much of the Palestinian political and spiritual leadership preaching a visceral hatred of Jews and the Jewish state.
As noted in a report published this week by The Tower, which describes nearly a dozen “outrageous” types of incitement, the reality is that both Palestinian leaders and the public support brutal terror attacks against Israelis, routinely lionize murders, and view Israel as fundamentally illegitimate.
All this means that this latest terror surge is unlikely to end any time soon.
Below I describe how for some Jewish families, the stabbings, shootings, and car rammings in Israel are reopening old wounds—and creating fresh traumas.
One Wedding, Two Funerals and a Stabbing
On Thursday evening Sarah Techiya Litman opened her wedding to the nation and to the world less than two weeks after her father, Rabbi Yaakov Litman, and her 18-year-old brother were murdered by a Palestinian gunman.
The family had been traveling to a celebration in honor of Litman’s upcoming marriage when their car was attacked on Route 60 in the southern part of the West Bank. Litman postponed her wedding until after the funerals and shiva (mourning period).
Buchris, a midrasha/seminary student who grew up in Netanya, had just returned from backpacking in India—a trip that’s popular among Israeli young people when they complete their military or national service. According to her friends and “devastated family”, Buchris dreamed of getting married and having children.
Schwartz, raised in the Boston suburb of Sharon, Massachusetts, was on a gap year program in Israel. On November 19 a Palestinian terrorist opened fire on his van and other cars stopped in traffic at Gush Etzion junction (two other people were also killed in the attack).
Schwartz and his friends were traveling back to their yeshiva. They’d been spending the day delivering care packages to IDF soldiers. They’d also made a pit stop at Oz Ve’Gaon, a park in the Gush Etzion area dedicated in memory of the three teens kidnapped and killed by Hamas last summer.
— Avi Mayer (@AviMayer) November 23, 2015
Schwartz happened to be a huge fan of the New England Patriots. On Monday night, he was honored by his favorite team at the Pats-Bills game at Gillette Stadium.
Moment of silence for Ezra Schwartz, the teenager from nearby Sharon who was recently killed in Israel pic.twitter.com/W1xdUTRdFJ
— Ben Volin (@BenVolin) November 24, 2015
Then, the owner of the team reportedly paid respects to the family.
Wow, just heard that the @Patriots Robert Kraft also paid a shiva call to the family of Ezra Schwartz. That's real class.
— Bethany S. Mandel (@bethanyshondark) November 24, 2015
Terror attacks also continued unabated this week.
On Monday a couple of Palestinian teenage girls ran amok near Jerusalem’s popular Machane Yehuda outdoor market. Wielding scissors, they tried to kill Israeli Jews. Instead, they ended up injuring an elderly Palestinian man from Bethlehem.
On that day too, 18-year-old Ziv Mizrachi was stabbed repeatedly in the stomach as he stood with friends at a gas station on Route 443, a major highway running between Jerusalem and Tel Aviv.
The Mizrachis: A Bereaved Family
According to media reports, Israel’s Magen David Adom first-responder paramedics attempted to revive Mizrachi, but despite resuscitation efforts, were forced to pronounce him dead at the scene.
Ziv Mizrachi lived in the town of Givat Ze’ev, located 5 km northwest of Jerusalem and just a short distance from the gas station where he was murdered.
Established in 1983, the town is a close-knit community with a mixed secular and religious population of roughly 15,000. It’s now the fifth largest Jewish ‘settlement’ in the West Bank and has its own separate municipality.
The Hebrew University of Jerusalem is only a 25 minute drive from town. So while Givat Ze’ev is comprised mainly of families, a large number of college students have also always lived there. Back in the mid-1980s, I was for a time among its many transient university student residents, and have fond memories of the place.
On a side note, Givat Ze’ev has also been in the news recently regarding a protracted seven year battle to save a synagogue there from demolition. The synagogue, which Israel’s High Court of Justice determined was illegally built on private Palestinian land, was scheduled to be razed last year.
The synagogue’s worshippers, who have been fighting to save the synagogue, succeeded in securing multiple court-ordered delays. But earlier this month, with the demolition imminent, hundreds of activists camped out in the synagogue and barricaded its entrance. Then, a social media campaign opposing its destruction went viral.
On November 17, the High Court of Justice accepted the state’s offer to spend NIS 5 million to relocate the building.
Ziv Mizrachi, who grew up in the neighborhood, was reportedly a driver in an army unit that operates surveillance balloons.
According to his teachers and friends, he wanted to serve close to Givat Ze’ev, so that he could continue living with his family. His parents were, according to accounts provided to the media, reluctant to have him serve in an IDF combat unit.
This is because twelve years earlier, another tragedy befell the Mizrachi family: on September 9, 2003, Ziv Mizrachi’s 22-year-old uncle, Allon, was killed in a terror attack.
Still traumatized from their loss, when Ziv was recently drafted the Mizrachis didn’t think that they could bear any more grief.
The Café Hillel 2003 Terror Attack and Its Aftermath
Allon Mizrachi was murdered along with six other people, including a father and his soon-to-be married daughter, when a suicide bomber blew himself up at Café Hillel, a popular eatery on Emek Refaim Street in the German Colony neighborhood of west Jerusalem. The attack also left 50 people wounded, many of them seriously.
Here’s a memorial video of the September 2003 attack, and Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ documentation of it:
On Monday, Allon’s nephew, with a knife buried in his heart, fired at his assailant in the last moments before his death. It was a heroic effort to save the life of his female commander who was nearby.
This kind of bravery must run in the Mizrachi family genes.
Because back on September 9, 2003 Allon Mizrachi, who was employed as a security guard at Café Hillel, also tried to stop the terrorist. Pouncing on the suicide bomber, he exploded with him, saving scores of people inside the coffee shop.
We know what happened to Ziv’s killer. This past Monday, sixteen-year-old Ahmad Taha from the West Bank village of Qatanna was shot and killed by IDF soldiers at the scene.
But this week’s news reports didn’t mention what became of Allon Mizrachi’s assailants.
Curious, I did some digging around on the internet and found a report and newspaper article from March 2012. They covered the story of one of the perpetrators of the bombing of Jerusalem’s Café Hillel: Abd al-Aziz Muhammad Moussa Amr.
In 2012, he ended up going to South Africa on an all-expenses-paid ‘apartheid week’ propaganda tour, where he reportedly spent his time defaming Israel, calling for the “liberation” of Jerusalem and Palestine, and milking the role of “persecuted intellectual victim”. Then, al-Azziz received a hero’s welcome in Gaza, when he returned there to cheering crowds.
According to the report, published by The Meir Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center, al-Azziz was born in 1960 and grew up in Jerusalem’s Shuafat neighborhood. He completed his undergraduate degree at Bir Zeit University, and eventually a PhD in English Literature at Hebrew University. But it was at Bir Zeit where al-Azziz fell in with the suicide bomber who blew himself up in Café Hillel. Both became part of the Hamas terror cell that orchestrated the attack there.
In January 2006, al-Azziz was sentenced to seven life sentences plus 30 years for the role he played in planning the terror attack. He was released from an Israeli jail in October 2011 as part of the negotiated deal to free Gilad Shalit.
Ziv Mizrachi became the 22nd Jewish casualty
On Monday, Ziv Mizrachi became the 22nd Jewish casualty since the latest wave of terror and violence broke out in Israel in early October.
An IDF private in the Nitzan Battalion of the Combat Intelligence Corps, Mizrachi was promoted to corporal after his murder. On Tuesday, his funeral at Jerusalem’s Mount Herzl Military Cemetery was attended by thousands.
It’s the second time that this family has been victimized by Palestinian terrorists.
Back in September 2003, Ziv Mizrachi’s uncle was also murdered—one of seven victims of a suicide bombing. Many more such attacks would end up taking the lives of over 1,000 Israelis during the second intifada.
The Security Barrier Is Working – But Only To An Extent
For now, Israelis no longer need to worry as much about mass-casualty terror attacks.
This is largely thanks to the security barrier which Israel began constructing in 2002, and other counterterror measures that have “tackled the killers in their centers of operation”.
Israel’s security barrier, primarily fencing with only 5% of its approximately 450 miles actually sections of wall, has saved countless lives. As senior editor of The Times of Israel David Horovitz notes in an op-ed published after the Paris terror attacks, the security barrier has made it impossible for Israel’s terrorist enemies to “just drive into Israel” and “massacre 129 of us in one evening”.
According to Horovitz, what’s also helped reduce Israel’s vulnerability to mass-casualty terrorism was destroying the bomb-making factories and explosive labs of Jenin, Nablus and other West Bank cities, where suicide vests were manufactured, and young men were indoctrinated into terror cells to kill and maim.
Horovitz is right.
Much of the infrastructure for mass-casualty terrorism was dismantled during Israel’s Operation Defense Shield, when the IDF and Israel’s intelligence agencies returned to the West Bank Palestinian cities that they’d withdrawn from during the Oslo years in the 1990s. Launched against the centers of terrorism in late March 2002, two days after a suicide bomber struck at a Passover gathering in the coastal city of Netanya, killing 30 and injuring 140, the counterterror operation was an effective strategy.
The reality is that these counterterror measures, for which Israel has been relentlessly judged and castigated by hordes of international critics, made it harder for terrorists to kill Jews via mass-murder.
Now, as Israelis mourn their daily dead, they’re well aware that the “toll would be much higher” if Israel were to again give up security control of the West Bank, as it did before the second intifada broke out in 2000.
Israel On Front Lines of War By Global Jihadism
But for Israelis who’ve long been living on the front lines of the war against global jihadism, it’s a cold comfort. Horovitz observes in an op-ed published earlier this week that:
The national mood is grim. The fear of attack is relentless…A whole new [Palestinian] generation has been filled with loathing for Jews, for Israel. Not all young Palestinians are going out stabbing; not all of them have been recruited to the killing fields. But the purported religious imperative is pushing more and more of them to act—several times a day, of late…For now, Israelis are having to adjust their daily lives, to minimize the vulnerability, to guard against the banal norm of relaxing when out and about”.
Bottom line: Allon Mizrachi was killed by a Palestinian suicide-bomber in 2003. His nephew was killed on Monday by a Palestinian wielding a knife. Both assailants were driven to murder by the same radical “Islamist death cult”. The only difference is mass-casualty terrorism then vs. rock-throwing, knife and scissor-stabbing, and car-ramming today.
Seen at the site of scissor attack by teen terrorist girls 3 days ago. Oh Jerusalem! pic.twitter.com/A6ewxLlI7x
— ((Jewlicious)) (@jewlicious) November 26, 2015
[Featured Image via MEMRI]
Miriam F. Elman is an associate professor of political science at the Maxwell School of Citizenship & Public Affairs, Syracuse University. She writes and teaches on international and national security, religion and politics in the Middle East, and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.DONATE
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