During a time when some Americans are actually debating the idea of allowing a mosque to be built near Ground Zero, it is important to see Islamic terror for what it really is. Unfortunately here in Israel we do not need to “imagine” it – many of our citizens have lost loved ones or have survived attacks themselves. One particularly intense period of Arab terror in Israel was during the years 2000 to 2005, during the Oslo War.
In September 2000, on Rosh Hashana, the Second Intifada (what we call the Oslo War) started. Arabs started riots all over Israel, supposedly in response to Arik Sharon’s visit to the Temple Mount, although evidence shows that this was planned months previously. I remember that after the holiday was over the IDF recommended that those living in Judea and Samaria should refrain from leaving their homes for a day or two. We missed our nephews’ bris in Jerusalem because of it.
Some “highlights” of the Oslo War:
The beginning – the war started on September 28, 2000. The destruction of Joseph’s Tomb in Shchem (Nablus) occurred on October 7, 2000. The lynch in Ramallah, on October 12, 2000 – a mob of Arabs literally tore two IDF soldiers apart for the “crime” of driving into Ramallah. The following five years had so many terrorist attacks that the information needs to be organized in a graph. A major terrorist attack that traumatized all of Israel was the massive suicide bombing of the Park Hotel during the Passover seder. (Make sure to scroll down to see the pictures of the mostly elderly victims).
Israel’s response: Fighting back, and taking care of the wounded
Fighting back: After initially quelling the riots that September, the acting Prime Minister of the time, Ehud Barack, did not formally use the IDF to protect the citizens of Israel, although the intelligence services were always working to give warning when they suspected an attack was coming, and some targeted killings of terrorist leaders were ordered. The country reacted to this relative passivity accordingly, and elected the most hawkish Prime Minister in decades, Arik Sharon. After the massacre of Jews at the Park Hotel in March 2002 Sharon finally used the IDF to go into the Arab cities in Judea and Samaria in what was called Operation Defensive Shield. (They had so many reserve soldiers volunteer to fight that they had to turn some back). In the following months Sharon did not hesitate to order many targeted killings of terrorist leaders, the most famous being the bombing in July 2002 of the house of Salah Shihada, the leader of Hamas at the time.
The IDF always continues to hunt the terrorists, even if it takes years to capture them . On September 26, 2007 they captured the last one responsible for the lynch in Ramallah.
Treating the wounded: Due to the unfortunate amount of experience in dealing with traumatic injuries, Israeli doctors and medical staff have become experts in treating mass casualties. Israel is also very experienced in treating PTSD in both adults and children. Other practical responses to our experience with terror is the redesign of certain public spaces. Bus stops, for example, are now built with “preforated” metal sides and rooves. This design reduces the injuries caused by the shock wave caused by an explosion. (Near where I work they just constructed a school bus stop this way).
Our culture also reflected the mood of the time, and a very popular song of the period was a rendition of “Rachem”. May Hashem hear our prayers so that we never need to go through a time like this again.