Bennett's 'New' Anti-terror Measures Are Old and Irrelevant

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Israel's Prime Minister Naftali Bennett at a press conference in Jerusalem, in January.
Israel's Prime Minister Naftali Bennett at a press conference in Jerusalem, in January.Credit: Emil Salman

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett published on his Twitter account on Thursday a series of measures to deal with the wave of terror attacks in Israel. Haaretz has found that the plan, entitled “Steps to restore security to the streets,” consists of little that is new.

On the one hand, some of the steps consist of measures which have already been implemented, on the other, many not be effective against the current terror spate.

Intensifying the campaign to seize illegal firearms in the Arab community – This activity, titled "Operation Safe-Lane," has been going on for months already as part of the government's anti-crime drive in the Arab community. Since it's launch in October, the police have captured hundreds of illegal firearms and weapons, including grenades, rifles, guns, improvised weapons and explosive charges.

Police say the number of reported shooting incidents in the Arab community have decreased by 38 percent compared to the same period last year.

Setting up a new Border Police division. Since the end of the war with Gaza last May, the police and Public Security Ministry have been asking to double the number of reserve Border Police companies from 16 to 32, as the need for more police forces within Israeli territory became clear. But not a single reserve combatant had been added thus far.

Only now, following the latest series of attacks in Israel and the West Bank, the cabinet is expected to approve the addition of ten Border Police detachments. The program will cost about 100 million shekels a year and will be spread out over the next three years. This means it will take time before the increase in forces is felt on the ground.

Adding hundreds of police positions. The state’s budget for 2022 approved recruiting 1,200 new police officers, so this bolstering of manpower is not a result of the latest wave of terror attacks.

The cabinet also approved the recruitment of 200 Border Policeman to be transferred from compulsory service to career service.

Setting up a special motorcycle task force. This is an existing plan initiated by Police Commissioner Yaakov Shabtai about six months ago. A motorized special police unit was appointed to serve as first responders.

Two of these patrol police officers were the first to arrive at the attack site in Bnei Brak. Policeman Amir Khoury, who shot the assailant dead, was killed in the exchange of fire with him.

The police say 237 motorbikes have been bought for the special unit and patrol officers.

Revoking work permits from terrorists’ relatives. Israel already revokes work permits from terrorists’ family members. The decision is made by the Shin Bet and according to protocols, the security agency instructs the Civil Administration to revoke or deny relatives of individuals designated as terrorists entry to Israel. First-degree family members are automatically denied work permits.

The new instruction is meant to expand the denial to second-degree family members. Since Palestinian families are often large, this increases dramatically the number of people whose work permit could be denied or revoked. However, entire families or even communities have been denied permits before.

Haaretz has reported cases in which Israel denied people work permits only because their family name was the same as a terrorist’s.

Advancing a plan to rebuild the separation barrier. The Defense Ministry told Haaretz that this issue is still under examination. A source said the defense establishment’s priority is to complete the fence on the Lebanon border.

The defense establishment has been aware of the breaches in the barrier for years, and has estimations of the number of Palestinians who cross through it on a regular basis. State Comptroller Matanyahu Engelman said the government spends some 140 million shekels a year on maintaining the barrier.

Increasing the monitoring of incitement on social media. According to a security source, the instruction is to focus on incitement that could lead to copycat attacks rather than looking for individual terrorists, as was the case in the 2015 terror spate.

The source said that in the past week an escalation in online incitement has been detected, noting that the distribution of video clips and fake news have a significant impact.

Another source familiar with the issue told Haaretz that the incitement accompanying recent events has not reached the level of incitement seen during last May's war with Hamas in Gaza.

He said that under the current instructions the police will “prepare” for incitement. The Public Diplomacy department – a body in touch with the social media corporations – is expected to be involved in the process at a later stage.

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