“Naftali Bennett’s security response is worrying”

At least three people were killed Thursday in a shooting in Tel Aviv. This is the fourth deadly attack in Israel in less than three weeks. Enough to fear an outbreak of violence as the country celebrates both Ramadan and Passover.

The streets of Tel Aviv, Israel were the scene of scenes of chaos on Thursday, April 7. A man, a Palestinian from the West Bank, opened fire on Dizengoff street, in the heart of the city, killing at least three people. He was eventually killed by security forces after a manhunt that lasted several hours.

This attack is the fourth to occur in the country in less than three weeks. The black series began on March 22 whena Bedouin of Israeli descent killed four people with knives and ramming a car in the city of Beer Sheva, in the south of the country. On March 27, two Israeli Arab cousins ​​opened fire in the coastal town of Hadera. The two investigations quickly established links between the assailants and the Islamic State group (OH DARLING).

The last two attacks on March 29 in the suburbs of Tel Aviv and on Thursday, they were carried out by two Palestinians from Jenin in the occupied West Bank. A territory considered a bastion of the Palestinian armed factions.

In total, these four attacks killed at least 14 people. This figure makes it the worst wave of attacks since the knife intifadaa series of knife attacks that killed some 270 people, Israelis and Palestinians, in 2015 and 2016.

Faced with this violence, the government of naftali bennett responded firmly by announcing, on Friday, to give “carte blanche” to the security forces to “defeat” this “new wave of terror.”

Hugh Lovatt, Middle East specialist at the European Council on Foreign Relations, based in London, returns for France 24 to the origin of these attacks. According to him, they are part of a “cycle of violence” that has been going on for years in the region.

France 24: how do you explain the increase in attacks in the last three weeks in Israel? ?

Hugh Lovatt : there are several factors that can explain this situation and it is quite difficult, at this stage, to determine if one of them has been predominant. Presumably it is a combination of individual, local and religious reasons.

The March 22 attack was carried out by an Israeli Bedouin in the Negev region. However, this area has been the scene of a conflict with the government for several months. The Bedouins demand the recognition of certain peoples that the State would like to transfer. It’s impossible to know what actually triggered it, but this context certainly plays a role.

Similarly, it is difficult to establish the precise motivations of the Palestinian attackers, but the causes of their anger can be multiple: colonization of the West Bank continues and there have been some fifteen Palestinians killed in various circumstances, either in Jerusalem or the West Bank, since the beginning of the year. The rest, the attackers are from the Jenin region, in the northern West Bank, a stronghold of the resistance. The repeated attacks by Israeli forces inevitably have an impact on public opinion. If we add an individual factor to it, for example, being humiliated when crossing the border or being denied access to some place, this can ignite the powder.

In Beer Sheva and Hadera, the attackers are linked to the Islamic State group. However, the last attack claimed by the group in the region dates back to 2017. What does it represent today in the region and can it herald a resurgence? ?

In reality, the attackers in question are radicalized individuals who are inspired by the ideology of the Islamic State group and who identify with this movement. But according to the various elements available to us, they did not receive any outside help. So no, I don’t see these attacks as evidence of an Islamic State resurgence in the region.

You should know that the group is not totally absent from the region, but it is a very marginal player. It is also completely excluded that these attacks are the result of any alliance between ISIS and Palestinian movements. For good reason, Palestinian groups have no interest in seeing the Islamic State emerge in the region. On the Hamas side, it is the same. IS is considered an enemy force.

In short, everyone – Israel, the Palestinian authorities and Hamas – work to fight the expansion of IS in the region. The only place the Islamist group can find allies is in Gaza, and that remains very limited.

Naftali Bennett’s government lost its majority in parliament, the Knesset, on Wednesday. Could these various attacks favor Benjamin Netanyahu’s return to power?

Sure. Already because this series of attacks will clearly gain in importance in public opinion. Especially since Thursday’s took place in the heart of Tel Aviv, on a busy artery, on the eve of the weekend.

It should be remembered that during the twelve years he was in power, Benjamin Netanyahu He has always positioned himself as a protector of the Israeli state and has often boasted about his security assets. Due to the ricochet effect, these attacks give the impression of a security flaw for the Naftali Bennett coalition. We know that other members of the Bennett coalition are reluctant to change sides. Therefore, these events can give them the boost. It is no coincidence that the latter reacted very strongly on Friday, giving carte blanche to the security forces.

By 2021, the clashes during this Ramadan period had led to eleven days of war between Hamas and Israel. Do you fear that these attacks will lead to a further escalation of tensions in the region? ?

In my opinion, these attacks are not surprising. They are part of a cycle of violence that has been going on for years where the attacks come in waves and the tension subsides on its own after a few weeks. This is just proof that the regional status quo is not working in the long run.

In this specific case, everything is also aggravated by the arrival of the Ramadan season, a time that is always conducive to tension. But, in my opinion, the main danger is that these attacks will lead to others, in a kind of terrorist mimicry, until the situation calms down on its own.

Last year, Hamas went to war precisely because it wanted to break out of this status quo. This time he has no will to climb, it is weakened and strategically lost. It is true that he and Islamic Jihad welcomed Thursday’s attack, but they generally remained in the background. And Mahmoud Abbas himself condemned the attacks, which is rare.

However, Naftali Bennett’s security response worries me. He decided to limit travel between the West Bank and Israel. If he goes further and denies them access to the Al-Aqsa mosque in the middle of Ramadan, this could, on the other hand, accentuate regional tensions and set fire to gunpowder.

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