Palestinian leaders are declaring their current campaign of “lone wolf” attacks on Israelis a success even as they explain to the world that is not terrorism. The official Palestinian line is that this was a spontaneous outbreak of violence against Israelis. This is odd since these same Palestinian officials constantly appear on Palestinian media urging Palestinians to keep up and intensify the attacks.
Since this effort began in mid-September 22 Israelis have died, most of them civilians. There have been over 200 wounded. Because they are less likely to be armed civilians have been the main target of the hundred (so far) attacks. The most used weapons are rocks, vehicles and kitchen knives. Children are encouraged to participate and some of young as 11 have attempted knife attacks. So far about a hundred Palestinians have died and over a thousand wounded. There have actually been over 150 attacks attempted but a third of those were disrupted before attackers could hurt anyone.
Israel is making the most of this absurd situation by heavily publicizing the public statements, usually on Palestinian media, of Palestinian leaders. Even long-time Western and Arab supporters of the Palestinians are appalled by what is going in the Palestinian media.
This is all mainly about money and power. Palestinian leaders in the West Bank and Gaza, while bitter rivals, are both suffering from declining support (especially financial) from Moslem nations. The Palestinians are seen by Arab (Gulf oil states) supporters as being self-destructive, unreliable and ungrateful. The Palestinians hope that killing more Israelis will change that but this is not working. Arab Gulf states are improving their relations with Israel mainly because the Arabs need powerful local allies to deal with ISIL (al Qaeda in Iraq and the Levant) and Iran.
The success in generating popular enthusiasm for widespread violence against Israelis was started this time by successfully spreading for false accusations of Israeli threats against the al Aqsa mosque (which is just above the Wailing Wall, a popular Jewish holy place and tourist attraction) in Jerusalem. The “al Aqsa is in danger” campaign began in 2014. Seeing an opportunity to grab more headlines, sympathy and, hopefully cash contributions from the Moslem world, the Palestinian leadership (Fatah) invested some effort and cash to get something going. This sort of thing has been tried before, actually it is attempted regularly but this time it caught on. The Palestinian propaganda explicitly called for individual (”lone wolf”) efforts by young men and this led to an increasing number of attacks against Israelis. The success of the current campaign is largely a fluke. There were two successful lone wolf attacks in 2014 and Islamic terror groups have been increasingly calling for this sort of thing over the last few years because their more conventional terrorism efforts in the West and Israel have failed. Despite all that there have been no successful lone wolf campaigns, until now. Fatah leaders may not know that these lone wolf campaigns don’t last long and come with some long-term costs. Then again, Fatah leadership have never been known for effective long-term planning.
Palestinian leaders don’t even try to hide what they are doing as Palestinian media regularly runs stories encouraging Palestinians and Israeli Arabs to use whatever kind of violence they can to attack and kill or injure Israeli Jews. Palestinian leaders get on TV and tell teenagers that throwing rocks and fire bombs at Israelis, especially those in cars or busses, is a patriotic obligation and is justified resistance to Israeli repression. The Palestinian politicians further encourage the teenagers by pointing out that if Israel uses force against rock throwers and kills or injures any of them it is the Israelis who will be guilty of war crimes. Naturally this encourages a lot more Palestinian teenagers to throw rocks. There are rewards as those that manage to injure or kill Israelis are considered heroes in Palestinian media and throughout the Moslem world (and in some Western media as well). Palestinians also know that in addition to praise and lots of media attention any Palestinians who are jailed or injured while trying to hurt Israelis receive large payments from Fatah. For example payments to jailed Palestinians vary according to how many Israelis the prisoner killed or injured. Some of these convicts get over $70,000 a year. Palestinians who get killed see their families receiving payments. These economic and media attention incentives have always encouraged many Palestinian men (and some women) to join the violence.
In the face of these cynical tactics Israel has threatened to shut down Fatah and rule the West Bank directly. That does get some attention from Fatah. Normally the only thing the Palestinian Authority (Fatah) has to offer to avoid this (aside from halting its support of violence against Israelis) is written and unwritten agreements with Israel whereby Fatah helps Israel control Islamic terrorists in the West Bank and Israel helps keep Fatah in power. The current violence violates that understanding. But Fatah is desperate in large part because it is regarded by most Palestinians as corrupt and self-serving and those attitudes are increasingly expressed openly. Fatah does provide some jobs and public services. With Fatah the Israelis know they are basically dealing with gangsters. For the Palestinians their inability to create competent, honest and efficient leaders is a great shame and the main reason why so many Palestinians want to emigrate, or support terrorism (against Israel or, in support of Hamas, against Fatah). Many Palestinians understand, but will not say out loud, that even if the Palestinians somehow eliminated Israel and the entire area became Palestinian the Palestinian people would still suffer from corrupt and ineffective government. Despite all this recently opinion polls show most Palestinians support the lone wolf attacks even though for every Israeli killed about six Palestinians die.