Analysis: Israel’s weekend of terror

Three Israelis were murdered in a weekend of terror attacks in Jerusalem and the West Bank.

Adiel Kolman, a 32-year-old father of four, was stabbed to death near the Temple Mount in Jerusalem’s Old City on Sunday.

Two days earlier, two Israeli soldiers were killed and another two injured following a car ramming attack outside a military observation post along a highway near the Mevo Dotan settlement in the West Bank. The victims were 20-year-old Sergeant Netanel Kahalani and 21-year-old Captain Ziv Daos.

The Jerusalem attacker, Abd el-Rahman Bani, walked up to Coleman and stabbed him repeatedly. Bani, who was shot dead by police at the scene, lived in the village of Aqraba near Nablus and had a one-week permit that had allowed him to enter Israel to look for work.

The killer of the two soldiers was 26-year-old Ala Qabha. He had served time in an Israeli prison for security offences and was released a year ago. He initially claimed the attack was a road accident but later admitted that he “intended to run over soldiers”.

Hamas praised that attacks and said they could continue “until we obtain complete liberty for our people”.

The attacks were the third in the last two weeks – on 4 March, an Arab-Israeli intentionally ran over and injured three soldiers outside the city of Acre – and a reminder of the ongoing wave of terror experienced by Israel since the autumn of 2015. Sixty-five people – including a Palestinian, two Americans, an Eritrean, and a British student – have been killed by terrorists, and 923 wounded. There have been nearly 200 stabbings, 174 shoots, 64 car-ramming attacks and one vehicle bombing.

The wave of terror was sparked by false claims made by the Palestinian Authority that Israel was planning to alter the status quo at the Temple Mount and other Jerusalem holy sites. The Temple Mount has been described as the “the most incendiary spot in the Middle East”.

The status quo was introduced by Israel when it took control of the Old City following the 1967 war. The Temple Mount was previously controlled by Jordan. Israel decided Jews, who believe the site to be that of the biblical temples, would be allowed to visit but not pray at the Temple Mount. Jewish prayer was only to be allowed at the adjacent Western Wall, which constitutes the last remaining remnants of the Second Jewish Temple. While retaining overall responsibility for the security of the entire complex, Israel ceded authority over the Temple Mount to the Waqf, an Islamic foundation which comes under the auspicious of Jordan.

President Mahmoud Abbas was at the forefront of these claims, claiming shortly before the outbreak of the so-called “knife intifada”: “[The] Al-Aqsa [mosque on the Temple Mount] is ours and so is the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. They [Israelis] have no right to desecrate them with their filthy feet. We won’t allow them to do so and we will do whatever we can to defend Jerusalem.”

“Each drop of blood that was spilled in Jerusalem is pure blood as long as it’s for the sake of Allah. Every shahid [martyr] will be in heaven and every wounded person will be rewarded, by Allah’s will,” he added.

His comments were followed and amplified by further statements by leading figures in the PA and its official media, which also justified and encouraged terrorist attacks against Israelis.

The PA’s campaign of anti-Semitic incitement is relentless and ever-present. It includes the payment of salaries to terrorists serving time in Israeli prisons. Last year, it was revealed that the bill for such payments thas exceeded $1bn over the last four years.

According to the Middle East Media Research Institute, the allowances range from $364 a month for a term of up to three years in prison to $3,120 for a term of 30 years. Terrorists from Jerusalem receive a monthly $78 supplement, while Arab-Israeli terrorists receive a $130 supplement.

But such payments are just the most egregious example of the PA’s policy of incitement. Aside from a heavily anti-Semitic discourse on official PA media, including children’s TV programmes, the authority also regularly names sports tournaments and youth camps after convicted terrorists.

Last year, LFI published a dossier which revealed that more than 20 Palestinian schools in the West Bank and Gaza are named after terrorists or Nazi collaborators. One such example is Dalal Mughrabi, who led the infamous 1978 Coastal Road Massacre, in which 38 civilians, 13 of them children, died. Three PA schools are named after Mughrabi.

New evidence compiled by the Institute for Monitoring Peace and Cultural Tolerance in School Education group (IMPACT-se)  published last year also painted a damning portrait of the new curriculum the PA is using to teach Palestinian children to hate Israelis. It concluded that “radicalisation is more pervasive across this new curriculum” than the one that it has replaced and that the curriculum “exerts pressure over young Palestinians to acts of violence in a more extensive and sophisticated manner”. It also asserted that “the curriculum’s focus appears to have expanded from demonisation of Israel to providing a rationale for war”.

Perhaps most disturbingly, the curriculum both emphasises the virtues of martyrdom – teaching children about the PA’s support for the families of those who carry out terrorist attacks and noting how they will be rewarded in paradise – and encourages children to believe that the Al-Aqsa mosque is threatened and that they should be prepared to sacrifice in order to defend it.

Earlier this month, Joan Ryan, LFI’s chair, and Ian Austin, one of our parliamentary supporters, wrote to the prime minister calling for a tougher and more transparent approach to the aid Britain sends to the PA.

Over the period to 2021, £125m of taxpayers’ money will be sent to Ramallah. UK aid does not, though, come without strings attached. These are laid out in the agreement between the PA and the Department for International Development. Among the “partnership principles” the PA are supposedly committed to is respecting the principle of non-violence and respect for human rights.

The PA’s compliance with these principles is reviewed annually by DfID. Sadly, this process is clouded in secrecy. For the past two years, ministers have refused LFI’s requests to release the review.

Moreover, DfID does not appear to be reminding the PA of the need to uphold the principle of non-violence. Over the past year, Ms Ryan and Mr Austin have provided DfID ministers with 20 specific examples of incitement perpetrated by the PA. However, ministers would not confirm that they had brought up with the PA any of the instances that Ms Ryan and Mr Austin put to them.

In their letter to Theresa May, Ms Ryan and Mr Austin urged her to order DfID to publish this year’s review of the PA’s compliance with the partnership principles and to direct her ministers to tell parliament the specific examples of incitement they have raised with PA over the past year.

They also argued that it was time for ministers to demonstrate to the PA the seriousness with which Britain regards incitement. The PA spent seven per cent of its 2017 budget on payments to terrorist prisoners and the families of so-called “martyrs”. As a first step, LFI has proposed that, until these payments stop, Britain should cut 14 per cent from its aid to the PA.

This money should be used to establish a new Palestinian Peace Fund, aimed at young people. It would support education projects in Palestine not tarnished by the PA’s hatred of Jews, but it could also be used in other ways — for instance, to establish scholarships to allow young Palestinians to study in the UK alongside Israeli students.

Until Britain and other western donors make it clear that the PA’s policy incitement to violence and incentivising terrorism is unacceptable, Israel will continue to experience attacks like those which occurred last weekend, and the prospects for peace and a two-state solution will be consequently weakened.