Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Take off the gloves

Time has come to adopt harsh measures against east Jerusalem residents

Sam Goldenwood
Israel Opinion

The police's announcement that the terrorist behind Monday night's attack in the capital was an east Jerusalem resident did not come as a huge surprise, to put it mildly. The latest rampage marked the third time this summer that a Jerusalem Arab got behind the wheel and proceeded to target Jews.East Jerusalem Arabs, who enjoy free access to the capital courtesy of their Israeli ID cards, have been increasingly taking advantage of their privileged status for purposes that have nothing to do with making a living – in fact, they have been using Israel's kindness in order to sow death and destruction on the streets of Jerusalem.

Terror Attack
Monday's terrorist an east Jerusalem resident / Efrat Weiss
As in previous rampages, terrorist behind Monday's attack an east Jerusalem resident
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Following the first such attack, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert declared that "there is no way to fence-off the Arabs of east Jerusalem and every home of a potential terrorist." However, now that he has been sent to early retirement, perhaps we can make an effort to come up with new and creative ways to counter the east Jerusalem threat.

And make no mistake about it: This threat has been growing exponentially. Earlier this year, Shin Bet officials noted that in the first half of 2008 alone, 71 east Jerusalem Arabs have been detained on terror-related charges, a figure that marks a huge increase from previous years. Moreover, the Shin Bet admitted that current security measures aimed at thwarting such attacks are insufficient.

Israeli officials have been notorious for their slow response time to new developments, but now that we have seen three rampages in one summer, perhaps someone up there will wake up and formulate a response that extends beyond the customary-yet-meaningless pledges to "do more."

Given the growing participation of east Jerusalem residents in terror activity, the time has come to adopt harsher measures against this population group. For starters, Israel should revoke the residency rights of any terrorist's immediate family, and possibly expel them out of Jerusalem Perhaps this would counterbalance the murderous urges of future terrorists, who would know that their actions are sure to have severe repercussions for their loved ones.

Moreover, Israel should also consider revoking the employment rights of any east Jerusalem resident with a criminal record. Statistics show that such individuals have a higher likelihood of committing terror acts, so such move would prevent them from securing employment in Jerusalem and gaining easy access to killing machines such as bulldozers.

In fact, another, more "pre-emptive", option would be to automatically revoke the residency rights of east Jerusalem residents convicted of crimes and expel them to Gaza. Just like a criminal record would prevent such individuals from entering the United States, there is no reason why we should allow them into Israel, particularly when this could have lethal consequences.

There are certainly many measures that can be introduced in a bid to reduce the threat and boost the level of deterrence, yet the most fundamental transformation required of our leaders is a change in perception. Political correctness and our sense of weakness must be replaced by determination, creativity, and most of all the realization that our ongoing helplessness will encourage more such attacks. We just cannot afford to do nothing; it's simply killing us.

Sam Goldenwood is the pen name of a former member of Israel's security establishment

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