A win and a loss in Israeli counter-terrorism

Yesterday Israel saw two dramatic terror incidents either thwarted or failed – both of which ended without incident but which had huge potential for disaster.

The first incident was an attempted bombing of the Jerusalem Light Rail. The Times of Israel reported the drama as it unfolded:

Police in downtown Jerusalem on Sunday morning arrested a man who was carrying explosives in his backpack.

The suspect, identified as a West Bank Palestinian, was detained near the light rail stop on Jaffa Road after he raised the suspicion of a security guard.

Jerusalem Light Rail

Police said the man was standing “behind the stop, with a bag in his hand.” When the guard asked to examine the contents of the bag, he noticed a bomb and called police.

Sappers were promptly deployed to the scene and the road was closed off, along with the adjacent King George Street.

Police said the man was found to be carrying “a number of pipe bombs” and had been arrested and taken in for questioning. A later police statement said that sappers disarmed “three pipe bombs wired together.” Mobile phones and knives were also in the backpack.

A video from the scene showed police pointing their guns at the suspect, who lay on the ground near the train stop. A second clip showed sappers strip-searching him, apparently for explosives.

Here the security guard explains how he spotted the suspect (Hebrew only):

You can read the English translation of the guard’s words here:

“As I’m watching the entrance to the train, I saw a man wearing a hat, glasses, a knapsack on his back, leaning on the wall and he’s scanning the train station left and right.

I approached the man, and questioned him, I said something wasn’t right.

I asked him to put down his knapsack.

He refused.

I immediately spun the man around, using reasonable force, I placed him against the wall, and checked him.

I took the knapsack off him, and saw a small bag inside. I lifted the bag up and saw the bomb.

I immediately knocked him down onto the ground.

Truly a hero.

The Roths at This Ongoing War made the very relevant remark that:

Assuming he’s convicted, this morning’s thwarted human bomb starts earning Rewards for Terror cash from the Palestinian Authority via its malevolent, ever-so-slightly-disguised prisoner payments authority. The funding all comes from European and American foreign aid to the Palestinian Authority, as government officials of all the relevant countries know well – but in large measure deny.

As for the man in underwear in the photo above, today’s would-be human bomb, his financial future, and that of his dependents, is suddenly secure.

And on the other hand,

The alert security guy, by the way, is an Israeli Druze.

Which just goes to show that there is always another way. The Arab residents of Israel do indeed have moral agency and are perfectly capable of making the right choices. They do not have to turn to terrorism because “there is no other alternative”. If a Druze Israeli can choose to become a security guard and then thwart a catastrophic terror attack, there is no reason why a Palestinian cannot make the choice to not become such a terrorist in the first place.

Kol hakavod to the security guard who deserves all honour, and indeed a medal of valour for his vigilance and bravery.

Later on in the day however, Israel had less than spectacular success in trying to shoot down a drone that entered Israeli airspace from Syria, missing no less than 3 times!:

As well as the two Patriot surface-to-air missiles that were officially announced and clearly visible in the sky, a military official told Channel 2 television that a third attempt came from an air-to-air missile fired by an Israeli fighter jet.

According to the IDF, the origin of the drone wasn’t clear, but the army is trying to ascertain whether it had been sent by the Lebanon-based Hezbollah terror group, which is currently fighting alongside the forces of Syrian President Bashar Assad, Channel 2 television reported.

The army believes that the UAV was Russian-made, Channel 2 said.

Hezbollah-linked Lebanese fighter Anes al-Naqqash claimed on Twitter on Sunday that the drone had indeed been sent by his Shiite terror group, and said it had just begun photographing army maneuvers in the Golan when it was shot at and turned back. The tweet was flagged by Yossi Mansharof, an expert from the Ezri Center at the University of Haifa, who tracks Hezbollah movements.

The launches triggered air raid alarms across northern Israel. No rockets were known to have been fired into Israeli territory, however.

Israel has shot down drone and fighter aircraft that have flown near the border with Syria in the Golan Heights several times in recent years. The IDF downed a drone in August 2014 and a Syrian fighter aircraft in September of the same year.

Thank G-d there were no injuries and no damage caused by the drone – besides, that is, any photos that it might have managed to take before being shot at. However the failure of the IDF and IAF to shoot down the drone requires a thorough investigation. Was it merely incompetence, or was the drone equipped with some kind of stealth or other getaway technology? We cannot afford more failures like this.

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3 Responses to A win and a loss in Israeli counter-terrorism

  1. Pingback: A win and a loss in Israeli counter-terrorism – 24/6 Magazine

  2. cba says:

    Actually there WAS an injury because of the drone–some shrapnel from the Patriot missile lightly injured a 14-year-old girl https://www.facebook.com/Muqata/posts/877272629083808

    P.S. One lesson I learn from this: don’t trust Patriot missiles, they’re not as good as Iron Dome.

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