ישראל נאמן | Lectures, Articles, Tours: Israel | Mideast onTarget | Elliot Chodoff & Yisrael Ne'eman | Hebron Failure, Beer Sheva Massacre 2.9.04

Hebron Failure, Beer Sheva Massacre

02 September 2004

By Yisrael Ne'eman

Tuesday's double bus bombing in Beer Sheva was a catastrophe waiting to happen. Sixteen Israelis died and over 100 were injured. After five and a half months, Palestinian terrorists managed a major success, this time in Israel's Negev capitol. The two homicide/suicide bombers were from Hebron. All the ingredients for the disaster were present: No security fence exists between the West Bank southern Hebron hills and the northern Negev, the IDF only rarely operates road blocks in the area and Hebron is not ringed by the army. On the offensive level there were very few incursions into Hebron and the surrounding villages to capture terrorist organizers and apparently the terror cells in the area have not been infiltrated.

The reason for the almost half year period of quiet is attributed to the establishment of the fence in the northern and central Samaria seam line near Israel's 1949 Armistice lines from Bet Shean to Hadera to Netanya. Other sections have been erected in the Jerusalem area while no construction exists in the southern West Bank. The decision to first build the barrier in the coastal plain not far from Tel Aviv (and Haifa) and in the Jerusalem region was most logical since the vast majority of Israel's population lives in those areas. That does not mean that the army and border police should not be directed to throw up surprise roadblocks and patrol the southern zones in question.

Furthermore, it is known that there is a developing relationship between Palestinian militants/terrorists and certain northern Negev beduin as Palestinian/Arab and Islamic nationalism are making inroads into that community. The Israeli beduin birthrate is the highest of any community in Israel (approx: 5% annually) and possibly even in the Middle East. With the lowest income in Israel, many live in ramshackle slums and perpetuate their poverty by having 8 to 10 children per family. Once considered more loyal to Israel, these bonds have been frayed over the past two decades.

The army is hard pressed on manpower, having been forced to cancel reserve call-ups due to financial constraints. Efforts are being invested in halting terror attacks originating from Jenin, Nablus, Ramallah, and Tulkarm, and with very impressive results. Hebron was considered quite manageable and security pressures were eased.

The General Security Services, who have done an overall superb job, had little clue of terror activities planned by those involved in the double bombing. The two large Hebron extended families, the Kawasmehs and the Jabris contributed one member each in the Beer Sheva massacre. It was known that certain members of the Kawasmeh clan were deeply involved in terrorism, but they have not been apprehended. No one knew in real time of the imminent double bombing. To get information on the Palestinian clans from the inside, a family related mole is almost a necessity since outsiders are rarely trusted.

The answers are known. Israel needs a southern security fence between the northern Negev and the Hebron hills, coupled with patrols, roadblocks and incursions into Hebron. But most significant is intelligence, which this time was sorely missing.