If not for the IDF, GSS and the police, the situation would be far more dire

By Robert Sarner, Canadian Jewish News, March 13, 2003

JERUSALEM - Later this month marks exactly two-and-a-half years since the Palestinians launched their terrorist war of attrition against Israel. During that time, Israel has suffered dearly, losing at last count 735 men, women and children in countless attacks that also wounded some 5,000 others. In a tiny, closely-knit country like Israel, such a loss is devastating.

And yet, compared to what the terrorists intended, the casualties, as terrible as they are, are relatively low.

Most people abroad don't realize that the atrocities that have killed so many and so shaken the nation, pale next to all the operations planned by Palestinian terror groups. Fortunately, the country's security services are on the case, heroically foiling countless attacks. Otherwise, the Israeli death toll since September 2000 would be in the thousands.

The world has little idea of what Israel is really up against. Not surprising given that the foreign media largely ignores the many terrorist plots averted by the army (IDF), the police and the General Security Services (GSS).

Since the current hostilities broke out, 98 Palestinians have blown themselves up in attacks aimed at slaughtering as many as Israelis as possible. During the same period, Israel has captured 85 would-be suicide bombers. In recent months, it has foiled an even higher proportion of planned attacks.

In February alone, the GSS prevented 57 Palestinian terrorist assaults, including 22 in which would-be suicide bombers and their dispatchers were arrested along huge amounts of weapons and explosives.

The other day, Jerusalem police revealed that in January they foiled an attempted mass terror attack on the city's main soccer stadium packed with fans.

Three weeks ago, IDF troops uncovered a huge Hamas bomb factory in the West Bank containing hundreds of kilograms of explosives and parts used for making bombs.

In mid-February, the GSS announced it had arrested a Gaza resident who was planning several bombing attacks and organizing others by suicide bombers. His intended targets: Bersheva's Soroka Hospital, a bus of tourists in Mitzpe Ramon and IDF officers in the Negev.

In early February, the IDF arrested a Hamas member in Ramallah who had hidden a suitcase containing several explosive belts. He confessed to planning to wear one of them into Jerusalem on a suicide mission.

Two days before, the IDF found a 15-kg explosives belt hidden in a large mosque in the town of Taibeh. The IDF learned of the bomb after arresting two Islamic Jihad terrorists at a nearby roadblock. They confessed to hiding it for use later against an Israeli target.

At the same time, security sources revealed the IDF and the GSS foiled several attempted attacks planned for the January 28 Knesset elections. The most ambitious was a plan by an Islamic Jihad cell in Jenin to detonate four booby-trapped cars at different locations simultaneously inside Israel.

A week earlier, Border Police aborted a similar bombing attempt near Wadi Ara when they captured a jeep laden with 400 kg of explosives that the Jihad had dispatched for a massive attack.

In December, three east Jerusalem members of the Islamic Jihad were charged with planning to launch a missile at a helicopter arriving at the Knesset and set off a bomb near the Prime Minister's Residence across town.

The same week, security sources said a terrorist cell had planned to assassinate former Jerusalem Mayor and current cabinet minister Ehud Olmert and to carry out a suicide bombing at the city's central bus station. These are just some of the plans revealed in recent months.

A few days ago, Jerusalem Police Chief Mickey Levy said that in 2002, there were 41 terror attacks in the city including 17 suicide bombings, plus 11 attempted suicide attacks that police thwarted. The week before, National Police Commissioner Shlomo Aharonishky released figures for 2002 showing that police foiled 45 terror attacks and prevented the explosion of 236 bombs inside Israel in some 550 counter-terrorist actions.

As bad as the situation is, I shutter to think what it would be if not for members of the country's security services. They risk their lives every day against those hell-bent on the mass murder of Israelis. Thirty months into this war, the least we can do is salute the courage and devotion of Israel's soldiers, police and other security personnel. They deserve our praise and gratitude.

< Back