Only Solution to Palestinian Terrorism Is the End of the Occupation

In the wake of the deadly Tel Aviv attack, ministers voice empty bravado and call for collective punishment, thereby just pushing more Palestinians to violence. It's time Israel learned the lesson: Terrorism will continue as long as the occupation does.

Israelis light candles outside the cafe where a terror attack claimed the lives of four people.
Israelis light candles outside the cafe where a terror attack claimed the lives of four people. Tomer Appelbaum

The murderous terror attack at Tel Aviv’s Sarona Market took the lives of four Israelis on Wednesday: Ido Ben Ari, Ilana Naba, Michael Feige and Mila Mishayev. It wounded six others.

The attack was not preceded by any intelligence warning, as far as is known, but no one can say it was a surprise. The current wave of violence, which has been described as the third intifada, has not subsided. It does not seem it will fade quickly.

Immediately after the attack, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman rushed to announce a list of collective punishments against the Palestinians. During the month of Ramadan, Israel has frozen 83,000 entry permits into Israel for family visits, along with permits for a handful of Gaza residents to pray at the Al-Aqsa Mosque. These steps have just one objective: To satisfy an Israeli public seeking revenge.

Cabinet members competed over who would make the most extreme announcement. Lieberman quickly declared he had “no intentions of settling for lip service,” while 
his deputy minister, Eli Ben-Dahan, threatened the town where the terrorists are from: “Life in Yatta won’t carry on as usual.”

Education Minister Naftali Bennett compared the terrorists to “that murderous organization sitting to our north,” and Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz called for preventive measures “that will go down in history.”

Meanwhile, Science Minister Ofir Akunis called for terrorists’ families to be deported and their homes demolished, and Culture Minister Miri Regev suggested that Israel “burn into the enemy’s consciousness” the price to be paid.

This impassioned and hollow talk, similar to the acts of collective punishment, has no real value. It will not protect the life of a single Israeli; it will just increase the frustration and hatred among those forced to live under Israeli occupation. In the end it will only push more young people to terrorism.

It’s amazing how the Israeli government does not learn its lesson and recognize what should have been clear long ago: The terror will continue as long as the Palestinian people have no hope on the horizon.

No military steps will eradicate it and no boastful declarations will end it. The only way to deal with terrorism is by freeing the Palestinian people from the occupation. Until then, the Palestinians will continue their opposition using force, as most peoples have done throughout history.