This may seem like a little thing, but it is HUGE!
During the month of Ramadan and on Land Day, it has become customary in Israel to expect a sudden increase in terrorist attacks against Israeli citizens. There is typically particular attention to the Temple Mount as a source of the eruption of violence as if it was a volcano spewing forth its hot lava. And for that reason, restrictions have been generally placed on who would be allowed to go up to the Mount during Ramadan.
On Land Day 2018, Hamas launched the Gazan “Great March of Return,” mostly non-violent massive demonstrations along the border fence with Israel that continued every Friday until the end of 2019. The huge gathering of people, together with their children, was punctuated with attempts to damage the border fence, rock- and molotov-cocktail throwing, and with the launching of incendiary colourful kids’ balloons and kites across the border, setting Israeli famers’ fields and natural forests on fire.
Israel responded to the aggression against her and there were deaths and injuries, mostly among Hamas operatives, but also among the non-violent demonstrators near them. Hamas called an end to the March, apparently because of the burden on health system resources. At the same time, they reported that the March would begin again in April 2020 on a monthly basis rather than weekly. The Coronavirus pandemic put an end to that.
Now, with the pandemic beginning to feel like a bad dream belonging to the past, should we anticipate a revival of the March on Land Day 2022?
This year, Land Day falls on March 30, two days before the beginning of Ramadan and it remains to be seen if that Day will bring with it particularly vicious attacks. In any case, Israeli security forces are bracing themselves for the anticipated violence. After all, in the week leading up to it, there have already been Israeli deaths and injuries in Jerusalem, Beersheva and Hadera.
Since Gaza has apparently not yet recovered from the serious damage to its infrastructure in May 2021’s hostilities, they will not be holding their Land Day demonstrations at the border this year. According to a report on the Hebrew news site, Walla, the protests will be held at the beaches, as far from the fence as humanly possible.
This shows the impact of deterrence that many Israeli citizens fear the country has lost.
However, in that same report, Hamas and the Islamic Jihad express their intention to step up the violence in Judea-Samaria. In other words, there is no deterrence factor operating there. Perhaps it is for them a sign of weakness when the Defense Ministry and Civil Administration in Area C ignore illegal construction and agricultural activities among the Arabs while enforcing the law strictly against the Jews when the former is far greater than the latter. Perhaps the blockading of the yeshiva in Chomesh after the terrorist murder of one of their fellow yeshiva students is for them a clear sign of lack of Israeli resolve to protect the ancient heartland of the Jewish People even when part of that heartland was recognized as being under full Israeli control by a contract, the Oslo Accords, signed on the Whitehouse lawn by Clinton, the PLO and Israel.
It is one thing to increase the entry permits awarded to Gazans seeking work in Israel and to refrain from putting up security barriers at the Damascus Gate entrance to the Old City (the carrot); it is another thing to show weakness in the face of violence and terrorism. The determined and persistent Israeli response to Gazan attacks (the stick) has resulted in the reluctance to trigger Israel on that front.
Now Israel has to learn how to carry a big stick on both sides of the Green Line, in Judea-Samaria and within what is sometimes misleadingly referred to as “Israel Proper” or “pre-1948 Israel.” Only fear of the big stick will prevent the car rammings, shootings and stabbings on city streets across Israel and in communities and on the highways in Judea-Samaria. The balance has to be tipped in such a way that Israel’s enemies are afraid to awaken the sleeping giant. The relocation of the “Great March” for Land Day 2022 shows that this is an attainable goal.
Feature Image Credit: Zero0000, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons