UPDATE: 6 pm Sunday. At 1:24 pm this afternoon, a Palestinian terrorist hiding among a group of Israeli bicyclists at the Gush Etzion Junction on Route 60 pulled out a knife and attempted to attack an IDF soldier who was on guard. In the ensuing struggle, the terrorist was seriously wounded. Reports are that he later died at the Hadassah Medical Center.
Today is Jerusalem Day–and Israel has celebrated the reunification of the Israel’s eternal capital 45 years ago with marches, flag-waving, picnics, exhibits, speeches–and even a governmental cabinet meeting on Ammunition Hill.
However, that has not been the subject of most international news reports. Instead the media has focused on former PM Ehud Olmert’s pathetic remarks that Jerusalem must be divided again–if Israel “really” wants peace. Equally pathetic was how the Jerusalem police celebrated Jerusalem Day–by arresting three Jewish worshipers who attempted to pray on the Temple Mount.
Do you remember, dear reader, that part of the argument against releasing Gilad Schalit from his Hamas captivity was that terrorists would immediately try to kidnap more Israelis? Guess what . . . from the moment that the exchange took place, there has been an ongoing attempt to do just that.
Today, Israel’s Shin Bet security service announced that a terror cell consisting of nine members has been arrested in the Ramallah area. Headed by Mouhmad Ramdan of the Palestinian settlement of al-Bira, the cell is affiliated with the PFLP, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine. Apparently, the cell traveled in rented cars throughout the Binyamin region scouring the area for possible victims.
They are charged with:
*attempting to kidnap an Israeli mother and her infant daughter near the Samarian community of Beit El. In this incident, the terrorists blocked the road forcing the woman to stop, whereupon they shattered her windshield with clubs–but they ran away when another car approached.
*attempting to kidnap another Israeli woman who was driving to the Ma’ale Levona community. They succeeding in breaking the woman’s windshield but she managed to escape.
*attemping to kidnap an Israeli man who was driving toward Kiryat Sefer. Again they shattered the man’s windshield, stopped the car, and tried to drag the man out of his car–but he escaped.
*attempting to kidnap two Israeli hitchhikers at a gas station in Mishor Adumin.
What is especially disturbing about these attempts is that none of the intended victims were Israeli soldiers but instead were Israeli women, men, and children.
This is not to say that Palestinian terrorists are not also attempting to kidnap IDF soldiers–more than 20 attempts have been made after the Gilad Schalit exchange.
But what is also disturbing about these most recent attempts to kidnap Israelis is that they were not reported at the time of their occurrence; we only found out about them today because Shin Bet decided to release the information. The head of the Almagor Terror Victims Association had this to say this morning: “There are constant attempts to abduct Israelis, but most are not reported due to gag orders.”
While the IDF has embarked on a campaign this month to try to get IDF soldiers to stop hitchhiking, your humble servant finds the government’s withholding of information about these attempted civilian kidnappings difficult to understand–because it puts Israelis at risk.
Jewish community members have a right to know where the attacks have occurred, which roads are the most dangerous to travel on, what kind of vehicles the terrorists are using, and who to look out for.
In fact, the government’s refusal to give this information to the public is eerily reminiscent of the government’s refusal to give accurate details about missile attacks in southern Israel until months after such attacks take place. Again, Israeli citizens are put in jeopardy because they don’t know the location and severity of ongoing attacks.
It is your humble servant’s opinion that whatever the security concerns may be concerning the release of kidnapping and missile information, they are outweighed by the public’s need to know what steps they need to take to defend themselves.