How is it possible that a country with such a strong army and experienced security service, Shin Bet, is hit with three terror attacks in a single day, as happened March 8, and has no recourse? Barely a week goes by without an Israeli getting stabbed or shot. Demolishing the homes of the attackers’ families does not stop the young attackers. Placing suspected terrorists under administrative detention without trial fails to impress scissor-wielding teenage Palestinian girls. Fear of losing their Israeli work permits is in no way a deterrent to those contemplating murder. The expulsion of families of attackers to the Gaza Strip, as proposed by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, is likely to stir up trouble with human rights organizations and the Supreme Court. It is only a matter of time before some genius proposes imposing the death penalty on suicide attackers.
The situation reminds me of a story a foreign correspondent covering Operation Cast Lead in early 2009 told me. At the height of the Israeli bombing of Gaza, he noticed an old Palestinian man leisurely strolling through the ruins. When a measure of calm was restored, the journalist approached the man and asked whether he was scared of being hit by a shell. “What do I have left in this life?” the old man responded. “For me, death is the solution, not the problem. That’s how I will finally be rid of all my troubles.”