Israeli Analysis: Like “suicide by cop” in U.S., Palestinian attackers frequently motivated by personal troubles rather than ideology.
You probably have heard the term “suicide by cop.”
It refers to attacks on police that are intended by the assailant to be met with deadly force. A 2014 FBI study provided this description:
Suicide by cop (SBC) is a situation where individuals deliberately place themselves or others at grave risk in a manner that compels the use of deadly force by police officers. There are many known SBC-specific risk factors, warning signs, and triggers. Individuals who feel trapped, ashamed, hopeless, desperate, revengeful, or enraged and those who are seeking notoriety, assuring lethality, saving face, sending a message, or evading moral responsibility often attempt SBC. In the field of suicide prevention, SBC has received little attention.
The FBI report also explained the psychological dynamic, and how it usually is not a spontaneous occurrance:
The Interpersonal Psychological Theory of Suicide (IPPT) indicates that a potentially fatal suicide attempt requires a strong desire to die and the capability for lethal self-harm. An attempt occurs only when both are present in an individual. The intense desire to die often comes from the belief that one is a burden to others or does not belong. A sense of burden can result when people feel they are a liability and have not fulfilled expectations. This leads to thinking that life has no value. Strong unmet needs for social relationships and the perception that no one cares produce feelings of failed belongingness.
For a suicide to occur, more than a desire to die is necessary; an individual also must be capable of ending life. The person must overcome fear, pain, and the instinct for self-preservation. This can result from abuse, trauma, or a history of violence and may be a byproduct of past attempts or mentally practicing a suicide plan.
IPPT helps explain SBC by indicating that a suicide attempt—
- is the outcome of a plan;
- requires the capability to expose oneself to lethal harm;
- becomes more likely when a plan is ruminated upon over time; and
- is facilitated by exposure to violence.
A 2006 analysis in the International Journal of Emergency Mental Health(pdf.) also found suicide by cop most often to be planned in advance:
It is estimated that approximately 10% of the approximately 600 police shootings a year in the United States are provoked SBC incidents. Most involve uniformed officers who are on duty at the time of the shooting, probably because such officers are easily identifiable by suspects seeking to end their own lives. The greatest number of SBC incidents occur in the context of a police response to an armed robbery; the next most common situation is a domestic disturbance call. While some SBC incidents arise spontaneously out of the anger and panic of these situations, a good number of them appear to be planned, as shown by the fact that in nearly a third of SBC cases investigators find a suicide note that apologizes to the police for deliberately drawing their fire.
In the recent so-called “Knife Intifada,” the Israelis experienced numerous equivalents of suicide by cop by Palestinian attackers. I’ll call it “suicide by IDF.” Frequently knives of various sizes were used to try to kill either policeman or soldiers. The knife attacks did and can kill, so deadly force in response is warranted.These attacks were similar to past suicide attacks in that death for the terrorist was assured, but in these cases the assured death would be by return gun fire. The IDF examined this phenomenon, as The Times of Israel reports:
A new Israeli army report highlights attacks by Palestinians over the last year and a half that the military says were motivated by a desire to commit suicide, rather than by ideology.
The report, published on Thursday by the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT), the IDF branch responsible for civil Palestinian affairs, details three admissions by attackers that their violent actions were the result of “difficult backgrounds that pushed them to commit these attempted suicide attacks.” …
The COGAT report claimed that reasons for the lone-wolf attacks “include but are not limited” to “domestic violence within the household (with family members such as siblings, spouses, fiance, etc.); social criticism for an immoral act such as adultery, lack of respect for the family, matriculation failure and more; and serious psychological issues stemming from depression, despair, and mental illness.”
According to the report, B. O., 20 years old from Artas, was injured after committing a stabbing attack in Efrat. After the attack, he stated in his interrogation that he “was fed up with his life and his despair brought upon these actions.”
J. T., a 20-year old from Kiton, said in her interrogation that she carried out a stabbing attack because her marriage engagement was called off. S. M., 18-years old, said that he carried out an attack after failing his matriculation exam.
The report argues that being hailed as a “martyr” in Palestinian society provides cover for the otherwise shaming act of suicide:
Since October 2015, more and more attackers are choosing to commit terror attacks and suicide missions for various reasons. Among these reasons include but are not limited to various levels of domestic violence within the household (with family members such as siblings, spouses, fiance, etc.); social criticism for an immoral act, such as adultery, lack of respect for the family, matriculation failure and more; and serious psychological issues stemming from depression, despair, and mental illness. In the absence of an appropriate response to these problems, both by the family household or the authorities, young people feel trapped in a dead end and that their only way to escape is by dying.
Committing suicide is not option or a normative behavior, therefore, young people choose to commit acts of terror in order to die to become “martyrs”. These youth assume that the execution of a terror attack will allow the young person to escape their bitter fate and get the recognition of “the martyr” for which will absolve them of all wrongdoing or unusual behaviors, and death will possibly provide their family with financial benefits—receiving compensation from the Palestinian Authority and therefore, not subjecting the family to burdens.
Whether holding a knife, aiming a gun or behind the wheel of a car, there are a variety of attacks that stem from personal difficulties dictated by the actions of suicide terrorists.
It doesn’t help, of course, that the stabbings and attacks are glorified in Palestinian society to the extent that some mothers prefer their children to die as martyrs than to live, VIDEO: Palestinian Bus Terrorist’s Mother Pulls Out Knife During Interview:
Or that children are taught to attack:
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