The IDF warned this week of a new wave of terror attacks carried out by lone attackers after a 13-year-old was killed by an axe-wielding Palestinian last week.
The murder took place last week at the Bat-Ayin settlement, in the Etzyon bloc, south of Jerusalem. Shlomo Nativ was murdered and Yair Gamliel, seven, was wounded. The murderer fled in the direction of the nearby Palestinian village of Safa. Intensive searches by the IDF and the General Security Service (GSS) failed to locate him.
IDF commanders say the rise in lone attacks is a direct result of frustration among Palestinians at their failure to carry out more elaborate assaults.
“Ever since the operation in Gaza began,” said a senior IDF officer in the West Bank, “we have detected increasing numbers of orders from the Hamas leadership to their people in the West Bank to carry out terror attacks. They wanted a third intifada, but failed.”
The drop in organised terror attacks is due to the success of the IDF and GSS in dismantling the infrastructure of terror organisations in the West Bank over the past five years. There is also a high level of co-operation between the IDF and the Fatah-dominated Palestinian Authority’s security forces.
“We have seen an unprecedented willingness on the part of the Palestinian security apparatus to work together against terror networks,” said the officer. “They realise that if they don’t act decisively, Hamas will take over the West Bank as they did in Gaza.”
Most lone attacks fail. On Saturday, a 16-year-old Bedouin girl attempted to shoot at border police in the Negev. She was shot dead.
The security services also fear that Jewish settlers may launch retaliatory attacks after Thursday’s murder. Bat-Ayin was the base of a Jewish terror cell that, nine years ago, attacked a number of Palestinian targets. At Shlomo Nativ’s funeral, the Rabbi of Bat-Ayin, Daniel Cohen, asked the settlers not to seek revenge “but to continue building”. Yair Gamliel’s father, Ofer, is serving a prison sentence for his part in the Bat Ayin terror group, but was allowed parole to visit his son.