IDF Chief of Staff: Religious Element Distinguishes Latest Wave of Terror in Israel

Gadi Eisenkot said that 'other motives' are involved in the violence that erupted this month, making it different than the terror wave that hit in October 2015

Palestinians and Israeli security forces clash during Friday prayers in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Ras al-Amud, July 21, 2017.
Emil Salman

The Israeli army's chief of staff, Lt. Gen. Gadi Eisenkot, said on Sunday that the nature of the current wave of Palestinian violence contains a religious streak not present in the previous wave nearly two years ago.

Eisenkot was speaking in the wake of the crisis between Israel and the Palestinians over the Temple Mount. Addressing draftees at the army induction center, Eisenkot said that the deterioration in the security situation is not the same as the one experienced in October 2015, which followed the West Bank shooting attack that killed Eitam and Naama Henkin. In this case, he said, there is an element of religious influence.

"The current incidents are not on the scale of the other time," he said, referring to the violence of late 2015. "It is something else, with other motives."  

Eisenkot also addressed Friday's attack, in which a Palestinian stabbed a father and two of his children to death in their home in a West Bank settlement. The attack, which was halted by a neighboring off-duty soldier, “teaches something about the threats we are dealing with,” Eisenkot told the recruits.

Regarding the situation in Gaza, Eisenkot said that rocket fire directed at Israel on Saturday “attests to the explosiveness of this period, both from Gaza and from the West Bank.”

Eisenkot also said that the army's role is to prepare for the possibility of war. “Should war break out, our task is to win decisively, to achieve clear results and to push back the next war many years back,” he said.

Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Gadi Eisenkot speaking to the newly conscripted soldiers at Israel's main army induction center, July 23, 2017.
Tomer Appelbaum

“The security situation is quiet, but it is very complex and volatile, and things can develop very quickly,” he added.

On Saturday, Eisenkot instructed the army to beef up its forces in the West Bank with a number of regular battalions. The army has conducted arrests across the West Bank and ramped up monitoring of Palestinians using social networks in wake of multiple threats and warnings of additional attacks.

Clashes between Palestinians and Israeli security forces continued throughout the weekend. Four Palestinians were killed on Friday, two of them in East Jerusalem and a third in nearby Abu Dis. The Palestinian Health Ministry announced on Saturday that a 23-year-old Palestinian had died of gunshot wounds to his chest, which he suffered during clashes with Israeli forces in the town of Al-Eizariya, north of Abu Dis. The Red Crescent Society reported that 391 Palestinians have been injured in demonstrations and clashes. Israel Police arrested 29 people in Jerusalem and the West Bank.