Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Willing to Die: Palestinian suicide bombers

Desperate Measures for Desperate Times

Although 2003 saw a 30 percent drop in terrorist activity aimed at Israel when compared to that in 2002, it is expected that in the future the threat will increase because of the cooperation, sharing of information and weaponry amongst terrorist organizations and related cells in the Middle East. There is evidence that many of the terrorist organizations have begun to join forces in an effort to achieve their common goal of destroying the state of Israel. Thus, in reaction to the growing threat, Israel has stepped up its counterterrorism strategy.

Aftermath of suicide bombing
Aftermath of suicide bombing

There are many tactical strategies that have been used by the Israeli government to reduce the number of terrorist attacks. Boaz Ganors writes in Israeli Counter-Terrorist Activity,   the Israeli government has used a combination of defensive operations, operative and punitive measures to disrupt terror plans. Ganor stated that the goals were aimed at striking at the heart of the terror infrastructure, going after the leaders of terrorist organizations and the planners of terrorist plots, inflicting damage to terrorist squads, minimizing terrorist activity and resulting damage and undermining terrorist morale.

In terms of defensive operations, a wide variety of methods have been used to disrupt and prevent terrorist attacks. The most controversial has been the erection of a security barrier that creates a separation between Palestinian and Israeli settlements. Moreover, border guards and checkpoints have also been used to prevent Palestinian terrorist from crossing into Israeli settlements. Although it has helped to prevent some terrorists from crossing into Israel, some are still get in. Other methods, such as removing financial means and disrupting communication have also worked to a degree. However, there is no 100% effective way to prevent suicide bombings, they can only be reduced.

Most recently, Israelis have targeted terrorist leaders and operatives for assassination. However, Pape believes that although the, decapitation of suicide terrorist organizations can disrupt their operations temporarily, it rarely yields long-term gains. Many would refute this contention saying that it at least prevents some innocent people from getting killed. While others argue that violent measures only lead to more violence and may actually lead to an upsurge in terrorist attacks. 

Punitive measures have also been taken to punish terrorist leaders and operatives. Many laws have been instated that ensure that those involved in terrorist organizations receive the harshest penalties possible for crimes against the state of Israel. Ganor stated that disciplinary measures such as arrest, administrative detention, exile and sealing and destroying houses of proven terrorists have been frequently enforced. However, they often seem to only pour more fuel on the already blazing fire.

Bulldozer levels Palestinian home
Bulldozer levels Palestinian home

Is there really is a way to stop terrorist attacks? Although hundreds of millions of dollars have been spent trying to solve the problem, it may be a futile cause. Perfect security is an idealistic dream in an environment that has produced so many nightmares. Nevertheless, the hope is kept alive and there are continuous efforts made at solving the problems that face the region.

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