Jan. 9, 2018
- In September 2017, a 37-year-old Palestinian Arab known as non-threatening and friendly drew a pistol and killed three Israelis in Har Adar in the West Bank. This individual ostensibly did not fit the “profile” of a potential terrorist. “Lone wolf” terrorism represents a “privatization” of terror that can be carried out by literally anyone. Hence, the difficulty in early detection and prevention.
- In Palestinian Arab lone wolf terror, two major elements are at work: First, a “fuel” of cultural acceptability and veneration of those carrying out the attacks. Second, a “trigger” that activates the fuel and results in an actual attack. Triggers can be personal, such as individual psychological or social distress, or they can be environmental, such as a signal or message in social media, or a “dog whistle” by the political leadership to act.
- In the Har Adar attack, reports claim that the attacker was beset by serious family issues, with his wife leaving him a few weeks earlier. Yet, whether or not the intention was nationalistic, Palestinian media and officials will define the attack as “martyrdom” and declare the attacker a hero.
- Palestinian leadership promotion and societal acceptance of false and racist narratives regarding Jews and Israel is multifaceted and broadly accepted in Palestinian society. This behavior, along with overt reinforcement and praise for attackers, creates a cultural atmosphere (the “fuel”) that supports violence against Israelis.
- The social acceptance of antipathy towards Jews (and Israelis) and the approval of violence as a means of “resistance” and rectifying perceived injustice may make the exploitation of terror the perfect vehicle for attackers with non-ideological grievances.
- In a recent interview on Palestinian TV, one official stated that Palestinian minors commit terror acts not to hurt Israelis necessarily, but primarily to enhance their status in society, Palestinian Media Watch reported.
The writer, a clinical psychologist, is a fellow of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, where he directs the Israel-Arab studies program for overseas students.
See also The Psychological Profile of the Palestinian “Lone Wolf” Terrorist – Dr. Irwin J. Mansdorf (ICA-Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)