The head of Shin Bet (the domestic security services also known as ISA, Israel Security Agency) — Yoram Cohen — has declared that Palestinians who have murderously attacked Israelis in recent months were not sent or authorized by any Palestinian organizations.
Cohen was briefing the Foreign Affairs and Security Committee of Israel’s parliament, the K’nesset, hours after two Palestinian cousins invaded a synagogue in West Jerusalem — using a meat cleaver and a gun to kill four rabbis (three of them who were U.S.-Israeli dual citizens) and a police officer.
Cohen said the two attackers did not train and are not known to have planned their assault.
When terrorists have no training camp and don’t visibly practice, it is of course very difficult for counter-terrorism forces — such as the ubiquitious and ever-watching Shin Bet — to detect a terrorist attack in the making.
Cohen’s analysis, based on Israeli intelligence’s best available information about the recent upsurge in Palestinian violence against Jews, is generally considered a significant disagreement with his boss — Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
The prime minister has repeatedly charged that the president of the Palestinian Authority, Mahmoud Abbas (also known as Abu Mazen), has been inciting violence — by spreading the impression that Israeli authorities plan a Jewish takeover of Muslim holy sites in Jerusalem.
Naftali Bennett, a rightwing cabinet minister who doesn’t believe it would be safe to create a Palestinian state in the West Bank, also blames Mahmoud Abbas for the upsurge in bloodshed. So does Moshe (Bogie) Ya’alon, the defense minister who suggests Palestinians would be satisfied with some form of autonomy — but without independence and sovereignty.
In fact though Cohen told parliamentarians that Abbas does not favor violence — and has no reason to want a third intifada (uprising) — the Shin Bet chief also declared that Abbas’s statements about Jews trying to take over all of Jerusalem had incited attacks by Palestinians.
The security agency director also cast some blame on right-wing Jews. Cohen said there is a highly negative effect — igniting dangerous tension — when Jews act on their claims to the Temple Mount (known to Muslims as Haram ash-Sharif, the Noble Sanctuary) by marching onto the area surrounding the famous golden- and silver-domed mosques that crown the holy city.
<Lone Wolves are Very Hard to Detect>
All in all, when terrorist attacks are carried out by individuals with no organizational affiliation — Shin Bet is now calling that “popular terror” — and the attackers don’t have jail records (so they are not on surveillance lists), it is very difficult for counter-terrorism agencies to gather information about them and prevent their murderous actions.