The massacre in Jerusalem was the result of compromises and pressures, both external and internal. There is no need to run and find someone to blame and there is no one to hang in the public square. This is not an intifada or an individual initiative, but rather it is an intermittent war of attrition. It has been going on for many years and it has one main long-term goal — to drive us out of here. This is a war we must win, as Israelis and as Jews who seek life.
Israel’s borders, both its official and disputed ones, are burning in a number of spots and we are trying to control each of these fires in accordance with their scope. In the 21 years since the first suicide bombing, which took place at the Mehola Junction in the Jordan Valley in 1993, we have not been able to completely put out any fire. Even in places where we thought the fires were extinguished, the wind of compromise and concessions, combined with Islamic incitement, reignited the flames, which then spread elsewhere, including the heart of the country.
Our unwillingness to pay the price to defeat Hamas, the years of useless chatter with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, the foolish disengagement from the Gaza Strip and the incomplete separation barrier in Judea and Samaria have, both together and individually, have been exploited by the leaders of the Palestinian war of attrition to attempt more terrorist attacks than Israel has the ability to thwart over time. We are not built for a war of attrition. We do not have enough friends in the Western and Arab worlds to support us over a long period of time. They are fed up.
Anyone who thinks distributing weapons to civilians would help the police effort to defeat terrorism is wrong. Those who build concrete barriers, put guards at schools and invest billions of shekels in the Iron Dome are only strengthening an illusion of security. Those who think demolishing the homes of terrorists will deter terrorism should look at the destruction in Gaza in the wake of Operation Protective Edge and see how the motivation level of Hamas has only risen. Those who still believe peace talks with the Palestinians would lower the flames do not understand how much fuel there is in the tanks of Islamic hatred and extreme ideological nationalism of those who do not recognize our right to live here.
The initiative must be ours, and ours alone. A complete separation between us and the Palestinians is essential to reducing potential harm to us. The IDF, Israel Police and other Israeli security and intelligence forces cannot provide us with an impenetrable line of defense. The most effective way to protect Israeli citizens is to go on the offense and establish deterrence. Those who seek to harm us must know they are being hunted down. The people of Israel are not able to be strong and effective at every place and at all times. We are better off when we have a presence within the terrorist centers in enemy territory.
The entire world does not understand the impossible reality in which we live, and we should not expect that it will understand. If any other country faced the same situation Israel does, it would act to eliminate the terrorist threat with immediate and disproportionate force. If we seek to be part of the Western world and maintain our status in the Middle East, we must define the current situation as a war, bolster our determination and fighting spirit and achieve victory on behalf of future generations. Only an unequivocal victory will ensure future coexistence with our neighbors and the Israeli Arabs who live among us.
Brig. Gen. (ret.) Zvika Fogel is a former chief of staff of the IDF Southern Command.