Today in Terrorism: 26 October 2005 market attack in Israel

Six killed by suicide bomber at market in Israel; attack by Islamic Jihad

Islamic Jihad claims suicide attack at Israeli market as tit for tat for killing of leader

The effort to stop terrorism is very much a cat and mouse game, in which the good guys try to identify the bad guys before they strike. In all truth, the former do the best job they can and often succeed, even if that success is not always recognised in the public domain. Sometimes, of course, the bad guys win: I wish we could be 100% effective but that is an unreasonable expectation.

In addition, sometimes when the good guys take out the bad guys it leads to a need for retribution. In other words, focusing on counter terrorism, removing a threat can engender a response as the terrorist group in question is angry at the success of the good guys and wants to demonstrate that it is still capable of hitting back. I say this not to discourage kinetic action against terrorists – a dead violent extremist is, after all, better than a live one – but to try to account for what may happen in the aftermath of an operation of this sort.

This day in 2005 Israel witnessed an attack that falls under this description. A suicide bomber struck a market in the city of Hadera, killing six and wounding dozens, some of them seriously. These were people out in the market minding their own business when the bomber detonated what was described as a ‘moderate device’ while standing near a falafel stall. The bomber was identified as a resident of a northern West Bank town.

The terrorist group Islamic Jihad (IJ) claimed the act after having earlier that week vowing revenge for the killing of Louey Saadi, a top IJ leader in the West Bank. The group stated: “Our response to this crime will be unprecedented, in accordance with the status of the man,” implying that the removal of Saadi would necessitate an appropriate response. The victims of the bombing were in effect that response.

Israel is in a very precarious situation. It has been threatened on innumerable occasions by terrorist groups that reject its very existence and vow to destroy it. The nation’s security forces have every right to identify and neutralise these threats: Israeli citizens expect nothing less. At the same time, counter terrorism has to be executed carefully to minimise the incidence of tit for tat attacks. There are also voices within Israel that are not helpful in this regard.

Getting all this right is tough. Anyone who says differently is woefully ill-informed.

By Phil Gurski

Phil Gurski is the President and CEO of Borealis Threat and Risk Consulting Ltd. Phil is a 32-year veteran of CSE and CSIS and the author of six books on terrorism.

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