Many have asked that I give an update and my view of the Security situation in Yehuda and Shomron today. Not an easy task, due to the many mitigating factors that change every time a Government official - either here in Israel, an Arab or American - sneezes.
The simplest way to put it is that we are here in our communities in our heartland and there are many Arabs that want us out, (not all of the Arabs wish to see the Jews leave this area). It is important to remember, that the want and desire to be “Jew Free”, doesn’t apply just to Yehuda and Shomron, but all of Israel, this view is not held by all Arabs, but certainly most.
It is impossible to discuss the Security situation in Yehuda and Shomron without first reminding everybody that this conflict did not start yesterday. Whereas this is not the place to get into a history lesson, it is the place to remind everybody that ignorance regarding the conflict is the wrong foot to stand on. To quote a friend, “the Jewish –Arab conflict started when Jews decided to fight back”.
I will discuss the situation today. Since Oslo, we have witnessed the birth of a new Arab army in the Middle East, that of the “Palestinian Authority”, however this is not the only Arab Military body in this region. There are many branches to this tree, with each branch spreading out to even more factions. Fatah itself is divided into many factions based on regions and philosophies, i.e. Nablus, Ramallah and so on. The same principal applies to Hamas, of course from there we can add on the Jihad Islami, PFLP, Al Qaeda, the list goes on. Each of these “Units” claims their own agenda and “work load”, but they do work also in accordance to the strategical and political whims of the two (Fatah and Hamas) leaderships.
The Operational and Tactical strength of all of these units has greatly increased and over the recent months and years and continues to rise to the point where they can be and are considered a “tangible” threat today - not just to our communities, but to the IDF as well. This due to the enormous funding, instruction and training they have and continue to receive from the rest of the Western world. It is no secret how the US, England and Canada have been involved with the upgrading of this new Arab army to it’s current status. Lt General Keith Dayton, (The US man in charge of this venture) indeed has what to be proud of.
Besides all of the “regulars”, there still exist numerous “independents” in the field, who are ready to attack at any minute they deem necessary and this presents an entirely separate threat level that must be not be ignored. Often downplayed in the mainstream media and International Threat Assessments, these “individual” cells have taken many lives and caused no fewer casualties than their bigger and better organized brothers. Adding to this is the fact that arms continue to flow in from various sources and continue to spread throughout the region due to the opening of the roadblocks (as a sign of good faith to the US). This all leads to an extremely volatile situation in Yehuda and Shomron. The IDF is still operating in order to capture terrorists, but these operations have been slashed due to an increasingly confused political situation on the ground. The uniforms have also changed, so not every terrorist is a “terrorist” anymore, He/She might now be a member of a new army or political wing making arrest more complicated.
Over the past year we have be seeing a significant increase in terrorist activity, although it is measured and restrained, never less it is present and enables us to gauge some of the risk and threat factors that we are and will be up against. The IDF and Israeli Security Services, Thank Gd, have been very successful in thwarting most of these attacks. Many of these incidents are probes, being used to measure our response. Where they may seem “trivial” enough, such as a stoning or Molotov cocktail, they supply the Arabs with much needed information regarding our security apparatus. Probes and attacks into the Communities have increased with a few ending in murderous rampages. Most thankfully are thwarted before any severe harm occurs, whether it is by the IDF or the communities’ own First Response Teams.
We are witnessing serious efforts by the Arabs in the gathering of Intelligence about the communities, and their increased efforts and success at sabotaging many industrial and agricultural ventures. While we are enjoying a relative lull in terror compared to the earlier days of the Intifada, most Security Analysts have discussed and stated that this is simply the “quiet before the storm”. Indeed the infighting going on between Hamas and Fatah serves us well but is also fueling the future flames that we will inevitably be pointed towards us in the not to distant future. Every day there are incidents, most that go unreported, but they do occur and people do get hurt. The efforts that the Jewish communities of Yehuda and Shomron have been showing beyond doubt has had a very positive affect on keeping terrorism down, not just in Yehuda and Shomron, but all of Israel. Though this is not politically correct to report, it is however a very big part of the picture in Israel.
This being a very short and minimal summary of the Arab build up, we can now move on to the Jewish side of the coin. Bear in mind that there are subjects that I will intentionally leave out due to security sensitivity regarding the IDF and our own Tactical Response, and the simple fact that I live in one of the communities and do not wish to divulge certain weakness that would place anyone in danger.
Much has been learned in the field of Community Security and First Response, simply by experience being our teacher, and we have had countless “professors”. It is this experience and excellence that has made Israel and specifically these communities in Yehuda and Shomron the vanguard in the Homeland Security Field. Today in many of the communities there are teams who are well trained and well equipped, however there are still many who are not as fortunate. Equipment must be constantly maintained as it ages and over time must be replaced and/or upgraded. This also applies to members of First Response Teams. The weak link that is common to all of the regions and communities is the financial backbone holding up these teams. The IDF supplied the basic needs - that of weapons and simple bulletproof vests, some basic training, but that is all. It must be stated, these are official Response Teams and not private militias. They work in coordination with the IDF. Whereas it used to be that the IDF was solely responsible to secure our communities, they are now the backup in the event of a terror situation thanks to these brave civilians. The IDF realized that time of response in a terrorist infiltration is paramount. Every extra minute waiting for the army could cost lives. So, the creation of first response teams has significantly decreased the delay in responding to such incidents. These First Response Teams and Security Chiefs are usually the first to arrive at the scene of a terror attack.
The motivation in the community’s remains very high, as it is essentially their own lives and those of their family at stake. Training by the IDF is minimal and most teams will train on their own, being either sponsored by their regional council or private donors. If there is a weakness to these teams, it is due to the continuous budgetary cuts by the Defense Ministry to the overall community defense structure. These cuts are across the board and are increasing the Risk and Threat Levels these communities are facing. Politics of course is a factor that we all must deal with, however the main difference in Israel, is that any sign of weakness provides motivation to our enemies. This combined with the increasing supply and funding of the various Arab Terror organizations by Western Governments in Yehuda and Shomron, makes for one deadly cocktail.
The IDF is currently removing many soldiers that guard communities and their security is, in turn falling mostly upon their own shoulders. This cut is also affecting the budgets that were supplied to the communities and regions in the Communication, Tactical and Perimeter fields. The lacking that these cuts have created is being filled by the continued support, effort and work of the local population and supportive Jewish Communities and Individuals abroad.
In summation, what is happening is such. The lines are being drawn and redrawn daily for a future conflict once again in the region. The North is seeing a total and increased rearming by Hizbullah, soon to be the recipient of new US arms and drones that will be sent to the Lebanese Army and funneled south, The South is witnessing a rearmed Hamas, whose reign of Terror will reach Tel Aviv, and last but certainly not least, the Heartland of our people, Yehuda and Shomron, will bear the brunt of the latest Arab Army in the Middle East whose arms will reach out in an attempt to strangle the center of the country, it is only a matter of time before the Arabs of the Galil create unrest as well.
I know that we are a strong people and can bear anything they can throw at us, and we can and will defeat any enemy. My main concern is the cost – in lives lost.
I am not using Fear or Guilt tactics here to get a point across. I have tried to supply a simple yet accurate analysis of the current security situation that is based on the region, the peoples, and the history, as well as the ever increasing component of extreme Islam in the Western world and “Homegrown” Islamic Terrorists.
Of course if the entire Arab and Muslim world change their collective mind regarding Israel’s existence as a Jewish State, then I readily admit to being wrong.