Naftali Bennett

“Open your eyes. Whoever has a license to carry a weapon, this is the time to carry it,” the Israeli prime minister told the nation amid a horrific wave of Palestinian terror.

By Pesach Benson, United With Israel

In a video message, Prime Minister Naftali Bennett warned on Wednesday of a wave of Palestinian terror in the coming weeks and urged Israelis with gun licenses to arm themselves in public. He also described government measures being taken to counter the threats.

In the past week, Arab terrorists killed 11 Israelis in rampages in Beersheba, Hadera and Bnei Brak.

Tensions continued to climb on Thursday morning when two Palestinians in Jenin were killed in a shootout with the IDF during an arrest operation. And in a separate incident, a Palestinian stabbed and seriously wounded a 28-year-old Israeli man on a bus near Neve Daniel, south of Jerusalem. The Palestinian was shot and killed by an armed Israeli citizen on the bus.

During the upcoming Islamic month-long holiday of Ramadan, which begins on Saturday, Palestinians traditionally ramp up their violent, unprovoked attacks on Israeli civilians. According to a Dutch study cited by the Jerusalem Post on Wednesday, “Ramadan brought with it a 200% increase in terrorist attacks in Israel between 2005 and 2016.”

“What is expected of you, citizens of Israel? Alertness and responsibility. Open your eyes. Whoever has a license to carry a weapon, this is the time to carry it,” Bennett said.

“The IDF, the Shin Bet and the Israel Police have significantly increased their intelligence operations in order to reach, in a timely manner, those who are planning to carry out attacks,” he said. “We have also reinforced the presence throughout the country of those in uniform and those carrying weapons.”

Bennett stressed that the IDF, Shin Bet and police are now working in an emergency capacity and have taken steps to improve their intelligence and boost the presence of security personnel.

He said the IDF has brought reinforcements to Judea and Samaria with 15 battalions, “a very considerable force.”

Bennett added that, “as of now, our forces have carried out more than 200 investigation or arrest operations. The home of the terrorist in Yabad has already been mapped for demolition and we are working to demolish it as soon as possible in order to create deterrence,” he said, referring to Dia’a Hassan Hamarshi, who killed three Israelis and two Ukrainian workers in Bnei Brak on Sunday.

Yabad is a Palestinian village near Jenin.

Take Your Weapons Home

Bennett also said that soldiers with elementary combat training will now take their weapons home while on leave. The measure applies to soldiers regardless of whether they are in mandatory, career or reserve roles. This practice is usually optional depending on the specific units.

“What we witnessed less than a year ago in Operation Guardians of the Walls, the terrorism and the violence, from within Israel and inside Israel, was the first sign,” Bennett noted, a reference to an 11-day conflict with Gaza. During that time, hundreds of Arab-Israelis in mixed cities such as Jerusalem, Haifa, Tiberias, Lod, Bat Yam, and Acre were arrested for rioting or other crimes.

“This is a great and complex challenge for the IDF, the ISA and the Israel Police that requires the security establishment to be creative and for us to adapt ourselves to the new threat and read the tell-tale signs of lone individuals, sometimes without organizational affiliation, and to be in control on the ground in order to thwart terrorism even before it happens,” he explained.

“Citizens of Israel, we are currently experiencing a wave of murderous terrorism and, just like in all the previous waves, we will prevail, together,” he said.

“This is neither our first nor our second wave of terrorism. We have experience with struggle. Israeli society, when it is tested, knows how to show composure, remain resilient, and rise to the occasion. We cannot be broken.”

Israeli social media posts have already appeared reminding people to be aware of their surroundings. Others posts have suggested people keep their hands free, not to wear double earphones but to keep one ear open, and to stand with their backs to a wall when waiting for a bus or train.