Massive Terrorist Attack Narrowly Averted in Israel

By P. David Hornik

The worst terror attack in Israeli history was narrowly averted Saturday evening.

Someone—it is not yet known who—managed to drive a car carrying 100
kilograms of explosives, mixed with metal ball bearings to maximize
impact, into an outdoor parking lot of the Lev Hamifratz mall in Haifa.
At about eight o’clock, when a malfunction in the detonation mechanism
caused a small explosion, a civilian summoned police, and sappers were
able to defuse the rest of the bombs.

The car belonged to an Arab woman from East Jerusalem but may have
been stolen. The bombs could possibly have brought down the entire
three-story mall with over a hundred stores and 23 movie theaters. Or
according to another scenario,
“the attackers could have been aiming to…set other parked vehicles on
fire, resulting in a chain reaction of exploding fuel tanks,” which
means “the majority of the cars in the parking lot would have gone up
in flames. The gas in them could have exploded. This would have been a
major terrorist attack.”

Although a shadowy Israeli Arab group called the Galilee Freedom
Fighters claimed responsibility, most media reports say the security
forces doubt such a group exists. Outgoing prime minister Ehud Olmert
implied that Hamas was responsible, claiming
the attack had originated in the West Bank “where Hamas wishes to
strengthen its infrastructure and status, while continuing its terror
activity and [efforts to] cause severe harm to Israeli citizens.” Other
suspicions center on Hezbollah. On Sunday evening, Israel’s Channel 1
reported that in any case the attack would have required collusion by
Arab citizens of Israel.

Meanwhile, Israeli media and particularly the left-wing daily Haaretz have launched a different kind of attack on Israel.

It started on Thursday when Haaretzreported
on six veterans of Operation Cast Lead in Gaza who, in speeches to the
pre-military preparatory program of which they were graduates, had
complained of alleged moral breaches during the war involving the
killing of civilians in difficult or ambiguous situations. Even though
the allegations were based on hearsay, the program’s founder and
current head, Danny Zamir—a
left-winger who previously served 28 days in military jail for refusing
to guard a Jewish religious ceremony in the West Bank city of
Nablus—published the soldiers’ complaints in a newsletter that found
its way to Haaretz.

Haaretz further reported
on Sunday that “Testimonies on IDF misconduct in Gaza keep rolling in.”
It noted that on Saturday evening (roughly coterminous with the
abortive Haifa attack), Israeli TV’s Channel 10 had “show[n] a
documentary that included a security briefing by a company commander on
the eve of the Gaza invasion.” The company commander’s supposedly
scandalous words were:

“We’re going to war. We’re not doing routine security work or
anything like that. I want aggressiveness—if there’s someone suspicious
on the upper floor of a house, we’ll shell it. If we have suspicions
about a house, we’ll take it down…. If it’s us or them, it’ll be them.
If someone approaches us unarmed, shoot in the air. If he keeps going,
that man is dead. Nobody will deliberate—let the mistakes be over their
lives, not ours.”

The soldiers, in other words, were embarking on the most difficult
urban combat imaginable, fighting ununiformed terrorists who melt into
and manipulate the civilian population at every turn, booby-trapping
homes and mosques with explosives. The civilian population, moreover,
largely supports and cooperates with the terrorists and is itself known
to launch suicide bombings. Those who object to the words “let the
mistakes be over their lives, not ours” are presumably nostalgic for
Israel’s 2002 confrontation with terror in the Jenin refugee camp,
when, purposely avoiding shelling so as to lessen Palestinian civilian
casualties, Israel instead lost 23 soldiers fighting in the alleys of
the camp.

Nevertheless, Israel’s military police stated that the incidents alleged by the soldiers quoted in Thursday’s Haaretz report will be investigated. The trouble is that—as could easily be foreseen by anyone who, unlike the folks who run Haaretz,
is genuinely concerned with fairness and Israel’s welfare—by that time
Israel will long since have been tried, found guilty, and hung by
international media.

As in, to take one among numerous examples, a widely disseminated AP story
that refers jeeringly to Israel’s “mantra” of having “the most moral
army,” quotes Israeli far-Left former security chief Ami Ayalon saying
that “the IDF’s ethos…was once built on ethics, sacrifice” and “after
the Gaza offensive…is based on force alone,” unreservedly quotes
casualty figures of the pro-Hamas Palestinian Human Rights Center in
Gaza, and quotes rabidly anti-Israeli UN “human rights” rapporteur Richard Falk saying Israel’s actions in Gaza could “constitute a war crime of the greatest magnitude….”

All this at a time when Israel’s defensive war against Hamas terror
in Gaza is under fire from the UN and a bevy of human rights NGOs, the
International Criminal Court is considering war crimes charges against
Israel, and Israeli soldiers and officers risk arrest if they step foot
in certain European countries. Also worth noting is that recently a
film depicting Israeli soldiers—in another war on terror almost thirty
years ago in Lebanon—as wanton killers of both animals and people has
won huge success and was up for an Oscar.

Seemingly the near-catastrophe in Haifa should be a reminder that
Israel, as a Jewish and non-Arab/non-Muslim state smack in the middle
of the Arab Middle East, is under very vicious attack and has no easy
solutions for how to protect itself. Even in such a reality, of course,
Israeli soldiers are human and could commit misdeeds. Patriots would
handle complaints—assuming they had some basis other than rumor—quietly
and fairly and only publish results once investigations have concluded.
But, unfortunately, Israel is also under internal attack from those,
like Haaretz, who want it to be besmirched as often and
publicly as possible and therefore add demoralization and defamation to
the harsh burdens with which heroic Israeli soldiers already cope.


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