Netanyahu Is Avoiding Israel's True Enemy

The Palestinians, not terrorism, are the enemy. Terrorism is the means of combat that the Palestinians are using. Their ultimate goal is to expel us from our land.

Israel Harel
Israel Harel
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The Dome of the Rock on the Temple Mount compound in Jerusalem's Old City, November 5, 2014.
The Dome of the Rock on the Temple Mount compound in Jerusalem's Old City, November 5, 2014.Credit: Reuters
Israel Harel
Israel Harel

Salvation has finally come to Zion. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ordered the police not to allow cabinet ministers or Knesset members to enter the Temple Mount compound in Jerusalem. It seems that those who are seeking to banish us from the Temple Mount have never been provided a braver, more Zionist and more appropriate response than this order. It is finally clear to everyone, first and foremost the enemy, that the government also has a genuine plan for putting an end to hit-and-run attempts, stabbings and stonings in Israel’s capital in general and on the Temple Mount in particular.

The truth is that Netanyahu had to take this hasty and cowardly step because even after the many years during which the enemy has fought against our rule in Jerusalem and Judea and Samaria, the prime minister has not had a plan – other than sustaining the blows and containing the enemy – for an effective counter-offensive. Such a plan will not be developed and cannot be developed as a long as Israel avoids what must be done by deciding precisely who the enemy is. Instead, Israel is fleeing as if being pursued by a snake. As long as Israel refrains from unequivocally defining the enemy, even the four brigades sent as reinforcements to Judea and Samara and the thousands of exhausted soldiers in Jerusalem will be engaged in frustrating police work.

The Palestinians, not terrorism, are the enemy. Terrorism is the means of combat that the Palestinians are using. Their ultimate goal is to expel us from our land. Their method is undermining our self-confidence, causing us to be hated in the world, causing us to argue and disagree among ourselves and knocking us off-balance. When in response to terrorism, Netanyahu bars Knesset members and cabinet ministers from entering the Temple Mount, he too has lost his balance.

Instead of identifying the enemy and subduing the foe before it achieves such major gains, Israeli governments have, other than in some exceptional instances, opted simply for containment. The current government too has made do with going after low-level figures carrying out the terrorism (using the excuse that it is “popular-based terrorism” committed by “lone wolves”) rather than taking the bull by the horns.

In the face of this broad combat strategy on the enemy’s part, which is war for all intents and purposes, Israel is deploying policing methods that are appropriate for disturbances of the peace of a criminal but non-military nature.

The murder spree is sowing insecurity among the public over our capacity to maintain the unity of Jerusalem, and many are in despair. This phenomenon alone should have prompted the government to take effective war measures rather than making do with police methods and police forces. This isn’t a case of disturbances of the peace but rather a cruel war, the price of which is being paid mainly by civilians.

If the government had had the courage to correctly characterize the enemy’s strategy and deploy a purposeful response, the primary military reinforcements should have been sent to Jerusalem. That’s where the battle will be decided, even for Judea and Samaria, and actually the entire country. Police respond by nature to crimes already committed. The Israel Police is not structured for preventative operations (and the IDF has also forgotten that at this point). The police are trained to sustain criminal threats but not to initiate action. And, the bitter truth is that they also lack motivation, the necessary commanders and the appropriate personnel.

The “legal” excuse that the army should not be deployed within Israel’s sovereign territory is ridiculous. On the eve of the uprooting of the Gaza Strip’s Gush Katif residents in 2005, the prime minister at the time, Ariel Sharon, sent thousands of soldiers to besiege Kfar Maimon, near Netivot. All of those committed to the rule of law, including the judicial system, applauded him. Only in Jerusalem, and against an enemy that slashes, runs over and stones Jews and expropriates Israeli sovereignty are there “legal problems” in deploying the army in an area that is part of this country. This is the embodiment of weakness and hypocrisy.

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