Opinion: Senior officials’ constant updates on the number of attacks security forces managed to foil is wrong for many reasons, the main of which is that it does not boost the public’s sense of personal security

Anyone who was born in Israel before the current decade knows without question that in the past we have had much deadlier terror waves than the one we are experiencing now.

But, even though the number of casualties in the first and second intifadas was sadly much higher than 11 people killed in the past few week, we haven’t heard such loud voices of intimidation and stress coming from our senior officials.

ראש השב"כ רונן בר, מפכ"ל המשטרה יעקב שבתאי והרמטכ"ל אביב כוכבי
IDF Chief of Staff Aviv Kochavi, Police Commissioner Kobi Shabtai, head of the Shin Bet Ronen Bar (Photo: Yair Sagi, Israel Police, Shaul Golan)


So, what is different this time around? Ironically, Israel’s security officials are also concerned with this question, even through they contribute directly to the current panic.

The IDF and the Israel Police are sharing information about the range of their activities, among other things, to atone for the miscalculations that led to the attacks in Be’er Sheva, Hadera and Bnei Brak.

For example, on Monday IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Aviv Kochavi, who was the commander of the paratrooper’s brigade during a large-scale military operation in the West Bank in 2002 – known as “Operation Defensive Shield” – said he understand why the public is hysterical since we have witnessed worse and longer terror waves than the latest one – and he is right.

He, however, was the one who stood in front of the cameras, telling us that “we have foiled at least 10 terror attacks in the past two weeks,” knowing that most of them had nothing to do with the current escalation and were part of the security forces’ routine work.
Kochavi must have known these remarks would immediately make headlines, at least in some media outlets.

Perpetrators in the latest deadly terror attacks
Perpetrators in the latest deadly terror attacks


A terror attack could occur in Israel at any given moment. But, there is nothing new here since it was always the reality of the nation’s existence.

Therefore, when senior security officials echo the public panic, even if to try and make up for past mistakes, it is unequivocally wrong.
Those who consciously produce headlines about thwarted terror attacks must understand that it doesn’t increase the sense of security. On the contrary. Every day we have warnings about potential attacks, for the simple reason that we live in a “bad neighborhood” of the world.

What may come out of this constant need to report foiled attacks is an even greater animosity towards the security forces.

So, the right thing to do is to calm the Israeli public, instead of making the fire of panic burn brighter it, which by the way is also true for the media.

כוחות צה"ל ליד פרצה ב גדר ליד חברון
IDF troops guard the breached fence in the West Bank (Photo: AFP)


It is pretty clear that Israel has gotten used to having almost no terror attacks in the past few years. The number of victims who died in terrorist attacks in 2020 stood at only three, a figure that sadly was the daily death toll during the Second Intifada.

Between the “mini” terror wave in 2015 and the bloody week of March 2022, a combination of achievements of the Shin Bet, the IDF, and the Israel Police, along with the policies of the various Netanyahu governments, materialized the belief that economic wellbeing could trump terrorism.

And it is important to talk about the price of this policy, which saw security forces turn a blind eye on tens of thousands of Palestinians passing illegally through the perimeter fence in the West Bank to work in Israel – in the hope it would keep them away from the cycle of terror.

In addition, you can’t ignore the evolution of technology and social media. If in the past the general public has been exposed to shocking images after they had been edited in news rooms, now, moments after an attack occurs everyone already knows every aspect of it.

רגע הירי בבני ברק
The terrorist from the Bnei Brak attack shoots civilians


The level of documentation, the speed at which it is distributed, and the lack of filter on social media is a leading cause of anxiety. In the past, we were horrified by images of burned buses. Nowadays, we see terrorists shooting innocent civilians with automatic weapons.

The traditional media outlets would rely in the past on their speed of reaching the area of the incident, or at most on amateur photographers who were quick to arrive to supply “the bleeding” goods. But even then, the gore was filtered.

So, contrary to the claims of some former generals, the people of Israel haven’t become weaker. It’s just some of Israelis are experiencing the trauma of terror attacks for the first time, in a world that has changed, especially in the way it consumes media.
Anxiety is a natural and obvious response. And we could all help each other in calming it down.

As reported by Ynetnews