Wednesday, September 19, 2012

But if there was a 2nd Israeli Defense Prize it would go to...

Uri Heitner..
Israel Hayom..
19 September '12..

This year's recipients of the Israel Defense Prize (the creators of the Iron Dome anti-rocket system), as well as those whose work remains highly classified, wholeheartedly deserve the honor for their efforts and their contribution. I would like to give another Defense Prize however, to those who do the more nitty gritty work, the day to day grind in Judea and Samaria; the IDF reserve and active duty infantry grunts and the Shin Bet operatives.

Ten years ago Israel fell under a murderous wave of terrorism — suicide bombers detonated on buses, in restaurants and shopping malls, we experienced shootings every other day and more than one thousand Israelis were killed in terror attacks. Today — almost nothing. Did the terrorists decide to give up their evil ways? Has their motivation dwindled? Of course not. The change is with us, starting with Operation Defensive Shield in 2002 and onto today's constant counterterrorism operations.

Some attribute the drop in the violence to the security fence. Without a doubt it had an effect, and as such it's no coincidence that the Palestinians and their supporters have actively resisted it (in Bil'in and others). They see it, and rightfully so, as a serious obstacle in their way of carrying out attacks in Israel.

However, if the fence was the main cause of the change, then we would have seen a rise of attacks on the other side of it. All of the volatility would have been concentrated in one small area and on a much smaller population. But we bore witness to a drastic reduction in violence on the other side of the fence as well.

During the first year of the terrorist campaign, apologetically referred to as the Second Intifada, there were nearly 2,000 shooting attacks in the Gush Etzion and southern Hebron Hills region alone. This year there were four. To understand the fundamental difference need only refer to the morning news, which routinely announces "Five Palestinians were arrested last night in ..."

The word "terrorists" is not used as it is no longer politically correct. But there are arrests every night and operations carried out by the Shin Bet and IDF to thwart attacks every day, all to save lives.

Indeed, there are those among us who slander the IDF and call its soldiers "armed brutes," but these "armed brutes" have saved the lives of thousands of Israelis, the potential victims of terrorist attacks that were averted. Whoever saves one life, saves an entire world.

The achievements made due to the daily counterterrorism efforts are enormous. For example, following the Jibril agreement and others like it there was a significant rise in terrorist attacks and many Israelis were killed by those who were freed or sent by those freed. We will soon mark one year since the Gilad Schalit deal, yet this time the result is different. It turns out that many of those released who decided to revert to terror, are back behind bars.

The result of the security forces' vigilant efforts against terror organizations has allowed Israel to remove many of the checkpoints, and as such has made day-to-day life for the Palestinians that much easier. It is important to note that the checkpoints were not useless: the soldiers who manned them prevented attacks and saved lives.

Only after circumstances allowed for it did the security establishment take the calculated risk to ease up on the Palestinians (their suffering being a direct result of the terrorism).

The soldiers carrying out the tough, grinding missions to defend the state of Israel are in my opinion, the real winners of the Israel Defense Prize. 


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