A turning point in the wave of terrorism

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Op-ed: It appears there is a shift in the modus operandi of terror attacks, the lone wolf terrorists make way to organized cells – like the attack at the Damascus Gate that claimed the life of Border Policewoman Hadar Cohen.

The terror attack at the Damascus Gate
symbolizes officially, symbolically and mostly painfully the transition of the terror wave from attacks by individuals to organized attacks.

It’s true, there is no organizational infrastructure – it looks like Hamas and Islamic Jihad are not involved. Maybe there is a distant relationship between the attackers’ families to Fatah. What exists is a virtual infrastructure: Alongside the incitement and the feelings of revenge, what connects them is Facebook.

The commander of the Binyamin Brigade, Col. Israel Shomer, is convinced that “the Facebook movement” is the one that’s leading the activities in the West Bank – not Fatah or Hamas. That is also how these events should be handled: One of the attackers wrote a month ago to his friend who carried out an attack and was killed in the Jalame checkpoint: “Your people are coming with gunfire, “hinting about following in his footsteps.

The internet is full of similar posts, and the defense establishment, despite Intelligence Unit 8200 and the Shin Bet’s technological capabilities, can’t find every person that posts something like that online. However, this time, unlike in the past, it would’ve been logical to expect that during the month that has passed since then, that attacker would have appeared on someone’s radar.

Another question: Why was the soldier Hadar Cohen, who only a month and a half ago started her military service in the Border Police, stationed in one of the most sensitive and dangerous locations?

The investigation reveals that this was a terror cell of three friends who made their way from Qabatiya to Jerusalem. They decided to attack at the entrance to the Damascus Gate, but the belief is that they planned to attack something more substantial – perhaps a large group of Jews. Only the vigilance of the Border Policewomen stopped a more serious attack

The terrorists traveled a long way, and it is not clear if they traveled with the rifles and explosives or if they were picked up in Jerusalem by accomplices. But those who know the situation on the ground are not surprised – not by their easy access to weapons or the ease with which they infiltrated Israel.

We’ve seen this modus operandi before, in the Beit Horon attack, where the two terrorists were equipped with improvised explosives and had a clear target on their minds, while trying to carry out an attack in the heart of the settlements in an attempt to imitate previous attacks.

The geographic aspect also can’t be ignored: In past attacks, the terrorists decided to target the area where they lived, but the three terrorists on Wednesday, just like the member of the Palestinian security forces who carried out the shooting attack at the Focus roadblock
near Ramallah arrived from far away – the three terrorists from Jenin and the Palestinian officer from Tulkarem. The terrorist who carried out the attack in Gush Etzion also came from Jenin, and so did the terrorist who did the vehicular attack in Tapuah Junction was from Qabatiya.

As of Wednesday night, the IDF estimates are that the wave of violence will last a long time. Some in the military say it could last a year, and that is why the IDF is preparing itself with heightened alert for what is termed “increased field security” – in order to protect its forces.

The IDF and the Shin Bet have not found an operational solution, and this has to be said honestly: There is no solution on the horizon. This fact needs to concern us more than the Gaza terror tunnels
threatening the communities on the Gaza border, at least the defense establishment is working on a solution – one that will take a long time and a lot of money to implement. But regarding the tunnels the direction is at least positive. The terror wave, on the other hand, there is one vector, and it is negative.

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