Unlearning the Oslo Agreement’s rules of appeasement
According to the Israel Security Agency, October 2015 saw the beginning of a wave of terrorism that has led to 620 attacks (483 in the form of firebombs) that month, compared to 223 in September. Eleven people were killed in terrorist attacks in October, and 80 were injured, 37 of them moderately or more severely (one foreign national, 18 Israeli civilians, and 18 members of the security forces). In November 2015, 10 people were killed in terrorist attacks, and 58 were injured. Among the non-fatal casualties, 22 were wounded in stabbings (including 5 in Jerusalem and 10 within Israel). 24 people were injured in vehicle attacks, and 12 in shootings. The Palestinian Arab terrorism wave continued in December.
Below is a brief synopsis of what 3 random days of Palestinian Arab terror looks like:
- Eliyahu checkpoint (near Alfei Menashe, northern Samaria): Palestinian woman attempted to stab guards at the checkpoint. She was shot and killed by security forces. Knife and suicide note found on Palestinian woman killed in attempted stabbing
- Tapuah Junction (Samaria): Four Israelis were wounded, two seriously, in a car-ramming terror attack directed at a group of people at a hithchhiking stop. The attacker was shot and killed by security forces.
- Beitar Illit (south of Jerusalem): A civilian security guard was lightly wounded in a stabbing attack. The assailant, a Palestinian woman, was shot and wounded.
- Ofra (northwest of Jerusalem): Two IDF soldiers were injured in a ramming attack. The Palestinian driver was shot and killed by soldiers on the scene.
- Abud (northwest of Jerusalem): Palestinian stabbed an IDF soldier in the neck. The attacker was shot and killed at the scene.
- Hebron: Two assailants stabbed and wounded a soldier. The assailants were shot and killed.
In the conventional wars of the past century, a successful military force that employed its arsenal of weapons usually started out with precise intelligence gathered by satellites, surveillance planes or drones. It continued under cover of precision strikes from high altitudes by cruise missiles or bombs dropped from warplanes, and ended with a ground force cleansing the field ready for infantry or tank forces to go in.
In contrast, in the interim period during the past 22 years, since the signing of the Oslo agreement, presented to the world as a “peace agreement” between the Palestinian Arabs and the State of Israel, the Israel Defense Forces have had to alter their military doctrine strategically as well as tactically, responding to Palestinian terror and conventional guerrilla warfare without even employing a fraction of the IDF’s immense firepower.
This self-imposed restriction preventing soldiers from responding to deadly terror, as soldiers should, with deadly force, has come to an end during the current wave of terror. Over the past three months as Israel has endured a critical increase in the level of Palestinian Arab terror, the I.D.F. has been re-transformed into a conventional army that responds to low-intensity urban warfare with an effective and deadly response, signaling the end of the now-defunct Oslo agreement’s rules of appeasement. The Attorney General.. can no longer intervene to limit the full range of responses on the part of soldiers and police carrying out missions against violent and deadly Palestinian Arab mobs.
Rocks that crush skulls, Molotov cocktails that maim young children forever, butcher knives that stab innocents, cars used to ram pedestrians, will no longer be perceived and treated as acts of civil disobedience, but rather for what they are, deadly terror to be responded to with deadly military force. The Netanyahu government has enabled this change to transpire by changing the rules of engagement for the IDF and the Israeli Police Forces. Without fanfare or unnecessary media attention that would have only hampered and delegitimized Israel’s right to self-defense, the Netanyahu Security Cabinet approved unanimously a series of decisions to assist in the fight against acts of terror. The Cabinet decided, among other things, that the IDF and police officers would be “allowed to open fire when faced with a threat to the life of any individual.” In addition, the Security Cabinet accepted the argument that it is impossible to tell if the stone throwers are minors or adults, removing the clause stating that the rules of engagement apply only to adults. It meant that the IDF and police officers were given a green light to change the rules of engagement and shoot, if necessary, minors who throw stones or Molotov cocktails.
In the past, during the post Oslo agreement period, military and police commanders revised the rules of engagement so that during riots and terrorist attacks, terrorists who had carried out a terror attack and were running away from the IDF and police forces, were immune from being fired upon. The rules of engagement prohibited soldiers and police from shooting directly towards the terrorists’ bodies to stop them and permitted only firing in the air in the hope that the terrorist would surrender.
The purpose of that earlier change was to “avoid escalating the tense situation in Judea and Samaria and to avoid raising the number of Palestinians being killed.” This approach to the rules of engagement, a product of the Oslo agreement terms of appeasement, is now no longer valid or acceptable. Not only was it discovered that the non-lethal methods did nothing to quell Palestinian Arab violence, but actually quite the opposite, it encouraged a steep rise in Palestinian Arab acts of terrorism.
In retrospect, the change in the rules of engagement was a game changer not only for soldiers and police officers responding to acts of terror on the streets of Jerusalem and other sites throughout Israel, but even more significantly for the legal apparatus led by the Attorney General who can no longer intervene to limit the full range of responses on the part of soldiers and police carrying out missions against violent and deadly Palestinian Arab mobs.
Allowing soldiers and police to shoot violent rioters even if they don’t pose a direct threat to military or police forces but are endangering the lives of others and without having to verify the age of the attacker, has made all the difference in the ability of military and police forces to deal with the ongoing terror wave.
In past conventional military conflicts there are very clear benchmarks for success. One has to – in blunt terms – kill as many of the other side and have as few casualties as possible on your side. In the on-going wave of terror there is a totally different benchmark, which should be built on the analysis of how it can be stopped. IDF Major-General (Ret.) Yaacov Amidror has been quoted explaining this benchmark‘. . …….Palestinians regard victory differently from Israelis or those in the West. They measure success not by achieving positive results for their people, but rather by the amount of suffering inflicted on their enemies’.
Thus, no matter how successful the IDF may be at the tactical and operational levels, the Palestinians are willing to conduct terror and guerrilla operations and inflict suffering on the Israeli and Jewish settler population …As Israel moves into the fourth month of the current wave of terror, whether or not there is a decrease in the level of daily terror attacks, it is imperative that the leaders of Israel continue to allow the IDF and the Police Force to continue to respond to potential Palestinian Arab terrorists without hesitation, leaving behind Oslo’s rules of appeasement.