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January 17, 2016 8:00 pm

IDF West Bank Commander: Don’t Be Lulled Into False Sense of Security by Drop in Stabbing Attacks

avatar by Ruthie Blum

The site of a terror attack in Gush Etzion. Photo: MDA.

The site of a terror attack in Gush Etzion. Photo: MDA.

A senior IDF officer told Israel’s Army Radio on Sunday that the public should not be lulled into a false sense of security by the apparent dip in Palestinian terrorism.

Col. Roman Gofman, commander of the Gush Etzion Brigade, said that though the data indicates a decrease in the number of terrorist attacks in the West Bank, it is temporary.

“Even if there has been a reduction in stabbings and car-rammings, there has been an increase in shootings on the roads and at IDF checkpoints,” he said. “These cases, too, are usually instigated by very young lone-[wolves], incited to act.”

Gofman said that all military personnel operating in the West Bank devote a lot of time in trying to understand the phenomenon: What causes Palestinian youth to go out and, in effect, commit suicide while attempting to commit stabbing attacks, when the chance of success — with soldiers in the field who have learned from experience and with an army that adjusted its drills – is very low?

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“As far as we’re concerned, they’re terrorists, even if they are very young; the Palestinians consider them martyrs,” Gofman said, explaining the importance of preventing them from receiving that particular honor.

“I expect the soldiers to remove the threat, to save the lives of civilians, to save their own lives,” he added. “That said, if I could cause a situation in which every terrorist who came to be a martyr was unable to become one, of course I would want that, because it would extinguish the phenomenon.”

Gofman also spoke of another type of challenge – an emotional one – faced by IDF soldiers during the current terror wave.

“It is much easier to neutralize a terrorist from 300 meters away at night, with sniper fire, when you can’t see him and he can’t see you,” Gofman told Army Radio. “It is much harder to do when the threat hits you from zero range; much harder when day after day after day you see terrorists, some of them children, wrapped in body bags and taken away in ambulances. It places a serious mental burden on the fighters.”

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