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For Israelis, terrorism is an issue that hits close to home – literally.
Israelis living in Israel have endured shooting attacks, bus bombings, suicide attacks, rockets, knife attacks and arson, all aimed to kill and terrorize as many citizens in Israel as possible. Terrorism is an ongoing domestic issue that Israel continues to face, perpetrated by local groups as the PLO, the PFLP, the DFLP, PIJ, Hamas and Hezbollah.
Yet, Israel’s struggle with terrorism involves many international aspects as well: some of these same terrorist groups have carried out terrorist attacks against Israeli and Jewish targets abroad; other countries, such as Iran and Syria, have provided safe havens, weapons and funds to terrorist groups targeting Israel; Palestinian terrorist groups and their supporters have sought to use terrorism to draw attention to their claims, and to bring international pressure to bear on Israel; and Israel has worked with other countries and the international community to cut off resources to these terrorist organizations and sanction state sponsors of terrorism.
With the rise of al-Qaida, Islamic State (ISIS) and other jihadist groups that seek to carry out a more global program of terrorism, there is a temptation for Israelis to view these groups’ attacks against non-Israeli and non-Jewish targets as somewhat of a break from the terrorism “we” face. Having faced criticism for defending ourselves from terrorism “too aggressively,” we may wonder whether our critics may finally come to understand what Israel faces, now that their citizens are being targeted too. We may be tempted to stand back and see how countries that have been critical of Israel will respond when facing their own problem of terrorism.
However, Israelis must not be deceived into believing that the global variety of terrorism is not our problem as well. We must also be engaged in the global fight against terrorism, even when it may seem that we are not the primary target.
First, while ISIS and its ilk do not limit their terrorist attacks to Jewish and Israeli targets, they have demonstrated that targeting Jews and Israelis remains among their priorities.
For example: Over the course of nine days in March 2012 in France, Mohammed Merah, who claimed to act for al-Qaida, first killed a French paratrooper, next killed two French police officers and wounded a third, and in a third attack murdered a rabbi and three children aged three, six and eight, and seriously wounded a teenager at the Ozar Hatorah Jewish school in Toulouse.
In an attack in Brussels, Belgium in May 2014, ISIS shooter Mehdi Nemmouche murdered four people at a Jewish museum.
In January 2015, the infamous attack by Islamic terrorists on the Charlie Hebdo Paris headquarters that killed 12 people and wounded 11, was followed two days later by the murder of four and kidnapping of 15 others at the Hypercasher kosher supermarket in Paris by ISIS operative Amedy Coulibaly.
In March 2016, three Israelis were among those killed when an ISIS terrorist carried out a suicide bombing in Istanbul, Turkey.
On November 16, 2016, police in Kosovo announced that they had arrested 19 people suspected of planning ISIS terrorist attacks, including a planned attack against the Israeli football team in an upcoming match.
Second, Israelis have much to offer in the global fight against terrorism.
Unfortunately, the phenomenon of terrorism is not new to us. Yet because of that fact, we have valuable experience and knowledge about what works and what doesn’t work in confronting terrorist threats. We have developed plans, protocols and technologies that can be adapted to the threats faced by other countries.
We have devised advanced methods and systems for gathering and analyzing intelligence that can make Israelis essential partners and allies in the fight against terrorism. And we have been at the forefront in using laws and legal processes to deprive terrorists of resources and obtain justice for victims of terrorism.
Third, it is the right thing to do. Terrorism is the enemy of all of humanity.
As a people who has known what it means to be the victim of terrorism, we must stand up for other victims of terrorism. As a nation that has had to fight and overcome terrorism at home, we must also join with others to fight and overcome terrorism abroad.
At Shurat HaDin, we will continue to fight to ensure that terrorism is not tolerated in any forum, and that terrorists are deprived of support in any form.
The author is president of Shurat HaDin.