The Israeli-Palestinian conflict took a brutal turn over the past few months, with frequent knife attacks committed by Palestinian men and women against innocent Israelis. It was a new type of attack, which was not organized or strategized by Islamic terrorist organizations, but “lone wolfs” that could strike anyone at any second. In October of 2015, there were 609 attacks alone. Now, there’s a recent poll that shows the majority of Palestinian youths support the knife attacks (via Times of Israel):
The Jerusalem Media and Communication Center poll, carried out across the West Bank, Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem in April, indicated that 58 percent of Palestinians between the ages of 15 and 29 supported stabbings to one degree or another, but Gazans backed it significantly more than did their West Bank counterparts.
Over three-quarters of Gazans — 78.6% of the 365 polled — said they strongly or somewhat support knife attacks against Israelis, whereas 46.4% of West Bank residents expressed similar sentiments.
Nearly 38% of young Palestinians said they opposed stabbings – 47.4% in the West Bank but just 21.1% in the Gaza Strip.
Two-thirds of Gazans polled said the attacks serve the Palestinian cause, while just 40% of West Bank residents said the same. Only 21% of the total number of young Palestinians polled said the stabbings, which have persisted since October, are detrimental to the Palestinian cause.
The Washington Post reported that in the past six months over 180 Palestinians have been killed in the recent spike in violence between the two sides, with 29 Israelis, four foreign nationals, including two Americans being killed lost to terrorist activity as well. They also noted that the West Bank village of Saer, a 20,000strong community, has generated more attackers per capita than anywhere else in the region. What has it reaped? Nothing but a lot of funerals and shattered families, yet the silver lining is that the frequency of the attacks are dropping. Moreover, unlike the youth survey, the overall majority of Palestinians opposing lone wolf knife attacks. Then again, while that number is dropping, the figure showing support for organized militias to conduct attacks is spiking:
“We’ve lost enough sons,” said Awni al-Jabbarin, the father of 20-year-old Muayyad, who was fatally shot by Israeli soldiers after he lunged at them with a knife at a highway junction.
Asked what the death of his child meant, the father stared off into the distance. “It achieved nothing,” he said.
He added, “I pray to God he is the last son of Saer to die.”
Israeli officials say it is too soon to declare an end to the six-month surge in violence. A bus bomb exploded in Jerusalem on Monday, injuring 21 people, two seriously. Authorities branded it a terrorist attack; investigators are searching for clues about who planted the device and why. The Passover celebrations are approaching, when tensions often spike, especially around access to a holy site in Jerusalem’s Old City that is sacred to Muslims and Jews.
Still, the trend suggests the flames may be burning down to embers.
According to Shin Bet, Israel’s domestic security agency, there were 20 significant attacks in March compared with 78 in October. This month, there have been four.
In the early months of the violence, there were especially large crowds at funerals and at Friday clashes with Israeli soldiers. But the numbers have steadily dropped.
“The atmosphere has changed. The people are tired,” said a senior Israeli commander in the West Bank who spoke on the condition of anonymity.
“Palestinians are understanding there is no efficiency in these terror attacks,” he said. “Most of the attacks do not succeed, and most of the time the Palestinian is arrested, wounded or killed, and no Israeli is hurt.”
Khalil Shikaki of the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research reported that his latest polling in March found “a significant drop” in the support for lone-wolf stabbing attacks compared with his December survey. Now, a majority is opposed to such assaults, even as a growing number support organized armed attacks by militias to gain national rights.
“The village just wants quiet now,” said Hassan Froukh, whose son Fadi, 27, was killed in a stabbing attempt, just a few weeks after the birth of his first daughter.
“Enough is enough,” he said.
Time will tell, but this decades-long battle between Israelis and Palestinians is probably going to continue way into our generation and the one after that.