Israel’s top police spokesman defines current violence

Israel National Police Superintendent Micky Rosenfeld is joined at ADL meeting for law enforcement by Liran Braude, left, deputy director for Jewish security, and regional director Tammy Gillies

Israel National Police Superintendent Micky Rosenfeld is joined at ADL meeting for law enforcement by Liran Braude, left, deputy director for Jewish security, and regional director Tammy Gillies.

By Donald H. Harrison

Donald H. Harrison

Donald H. Harrison

SAN DIEGO – Israel National Police Superintendent Micky Rosenfeld, often identified in media reports as chief spokesman for the 29,000-officer national force, on Monday, Nov. 9,  briefed 150 law enforcement officials from throughout San Diego County on tactics and strategies employed by Israel to fight terrorism.

Following the off-the-record session in the social hall at Congregation Beth Israel, Rosenfeld and Tammy Gillies, San Diego regional director of the Anti-Defamation League, said in a for-the-record press briefing that the problems that Israel has been facing with “lone wolf” knife attacks and car rammings directed at civilians is the kind of terrorism that could occur in any other country, including the United States. Therefore, they emphasized to law enforcement officials, it is always best to be prepared.

Some of what the Israeli official told the local law enforcement officers about tactics and strategy was familiar to them, because San Diego County law enforcement, like Israel’s, prides itself both on close interagency cooperation and what is known as community-oriented police work.  Community policing emphasizes having officers frequently meet with community leaders, merchants, and residents to gain understanding and insight about what is brewing in specific neighborhoods.

Tammy Gillies and Micky Rosenfeld discuss the current violence in Israel, Nov. 9, 2015 at Congregation Beth israel

Tammy Gillies and Micky Rosenfeld discuss the current violence in Israel, Nov. 9, 2015 at Congregation Beth israel

Rosenfeld said Israeli police—both uniformed and undercover, Jewish and Arab — have been constantly in touch with neighborhoods in Jerusalem and other flash point cities in an effort to anticipate violence and to be ready with a response.  He added that being able to identify potential lone wolves, and to read their postings on Social Media, can give police the information necessary to prevent or minimize violent incidents.

In the last month, approximately 10 Israelis have been killed by seemingly random attacks, most of them in Jerusalem.  While the wave of violence is troubling, Rosenfeld stressed, it is far from being an “intifada” such as the one that paralyzed Israel in 2000-2005 when in a coordinated campaign of bombings, shootings and killings by Arabs, 1,200 Israeli Jews died violent deaths.

It would be a mistake for the media to refer to the current wave of violence as an intifada, because even use of that term could fan the flames and promote the kind of bloodshed that some agitators hope to see occur, Rosenfeld said.

From what the Israel National Police has pieced together from intelligence sources, perpetrators of the current violence typically act on their own—and not under any direct orders from either Hamas in Gaza, nor the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank.  Typically, perpetrators are between the ages of 13 and 33 and appear to have been incited by what they read in social media, or hear in the streets.

Within the last month, said Rosenfeld, independent agitators seem to be refocusing their murderous campaigns against police officers and IDF soldiers as opposed to Israeli civilians.  He suggested that among disaffected Palestinians, not much street credit is given for killing an elderly Israeli, child or teenager, whereas Israeli soldiers and police officers are considered by some Palestinians as justifiable targets.

He noted that international media stationed in Israel have questioned whether the Israel National Police have overreacted to these “lone wolf” attacks, and responded that, in fact, in life or death situations police must make split second decisions whether to save their own lives or to try to restrain and arrest the perpetrators.  In 35 terrorist attacks, he said, Israel’s National Police have been able to arrest, rather than fatally shoot, more than half.

A difference in this wave of violence, said Rosenfeld, is that the incident may not be over once the arrest is made.  There still is the problem of the Palestinian media, which makes videos of incidents, then disseminates highly edited versions of what occurred to the international media in a never-ending propaganda war.  That is why Israel National Police gather up video records of the incidents from street and building cameras so it can quickly show what really occurred, according to Rosenfeld. While the Palestinian media may give out the last minute and 45 seconds of a video recording; the INP will disseminate the full two minutes and fifteen seconds, he said.

Israel’s Government Press Office sends these videos not only to international media but to the local Arab media as well, he said.

Rosenfeld said that Palestinian propagandists have no hesitancy about lying about the facts.  He cited the case of a 13 year old Palestinian attacker who was shot by police, hospitalized, and well cared for by Israeli doctors.  Palestinian propagandists put out the story that the boy was killed, but Israelis were able to show that he was very much alive and being treated for his wounds.

Rosenfeld estimated that non-Jews make up 10 percent of the Israel National Police force and said that these ranks include Arab Christians, Muslims, Bedouins and Druze.  He emphasized that Israeli Arabs are full members of Israeli society, who work with Israeli Jews side by side in many instances.  He gave as an example Arab doctors rendering medical attention to Jewish victims, and, by their side, Jewish doctors medically treating Arab terrorists in emergency rooms.

Gillies, the ADL Regional Director, said that when U.S. law enforcement officers hear or observe the conditions under which their Israeli counterparts must work–such as in Jerusalem, where any field arrest can turn into an international incident—they gain an appreciation not only for what Israelis must contend with, but also for how important community policing and intelligence gathering can be in times of civil unrest.

Harrison is editor of San Diego Jewish World.  He may be contacted via [email protected]

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