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Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
Strategic Alliances for a Secure, Connected, and Prosperous Region

The History of the West’s Struggle against Terror

Amb. Freddy Eytan


Numerous books and studies have been written about terror in various languages. They have tried to explain the phenomenon, including its sources and its ramifications, from social, military, economic, diplomatic, and legal standpoints. Since the 1970s, international terror has been a hot topic, prompting countless media articles, research, and heated debates on television and in the social networks. Since the attack on New York’s Twin Towers in September 2001, the struggle against Islamic terror has occupied world leaders, and such terror is now considered the greatest threat to the peace and stability of the world.

In the 1970s, most discussions on how to define terror focused on the political, ideological, and philosophical aspects, in line with clear-cut worldviews and political opinions.

Since September 11, 2001, the discussions have focused on methods of prevention and on the struggle to defeat the barbaric, fanatic terror of radical, jihadist Islam. Since that time, people’s daily lives throughout the world have been disrupted, and their movement constrained. Many live in an atmosphere of insecurity because the threat that exists is undefined and unpredictable.

This article, like others produced by the research at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, will focus mainly on the history of terror in our region, define Islamic terror, and report on European attempts to defeat it from the vantage point of the Israeli approach to security. It will discuss the lessons that can be learned from the abundant and painful experience that many Israelis have undergone over the years. The attitude that is expressed is sincere and professional, and the intention is solely to clarify, help, and warn. There is no aim of preaching morality or interfering in the domestic considerations of other Western countries. Each country will choose its strategy according to its considerations and interests.

Undoubtedly all Western countries, including Israel, are part of a single front waging a long, complex, and uncompromising struggle against cruel Islamic terror. Despite disagreements about resolving political issues and about methods to be adopted, we are all obligated to rise above the various concerns, and to join, and cooperate on the basis of common, enlightened interests, and values.

The Characteristics of Palestinian Arab Terror

Terror against Jews began early in the twentieth century in the period of the Yishuv (the pre-state Jewish community) and the first large Jewish immigrations to the Land of Israel. Sheikh Izz ad-Din al-Qassam was the first to instigate terror attacks against Jews. Today, the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades are the military wing of Hamas. Under the leadership of the Mufti Hajj Amin el-Husseini, who later forged close ties with the Nazis and even met with Adolf Hitler, anti-Jewish incitement intensified. In 1929, anti-Jewish riots spiked, and a total of 113 Jews were killed and 339 injured.

In April 1936, the Great Arab Revolt erupted. During its three years, 400 Jews were killed and many thousands injured, and private homes and schools were ravaged. Buses and trains, groves and orchards were attacked, and crops were burned entirely.

Immediately after the Arabs totally rejected the United Nations Partition Plan approved by the General Assembly on November 29, 1947, the Arab leadership launched guerrilla warfare and terror attacks against the Yishuv. The onslaught continued with the declaration of the Jewish state on May 14, 1948, and lasted until the end of the War of Independence in 1949.

But, even after the signing of the armistice agreements, Arab terror persisted. In 1949, murderous attacks by Fedayeen infiltrators were unleashed against Jewish residents of border moshavim and kibbutzim.

Although Palestinian Arab terror has several attributes, it always aimed to attack Israeli Jews no matter who or where they are. Terror waves have occurred in various periods. Yet, under the deliberate incitement of the Palestinian Arab leadership from the beginning of the British Mandate to the present, they have never stopped, and they continue.

The period since 1968, following the Six Day War, has seen various kinds and venues of attacks:

  • Terror attacks in the Jordan Valley and the Beit Shean Valley.
  • Airplane hijackings and attacks on Israeli targets all over the world with the help of foreign terror organizations.
  • Terror attacks along the northern border from “Fatahland” in southern Lebanon, which included raids on Israeli settlements and Katyusha rocket fire. The most savage attack occurred in Ma’alot on May 15, 1974: 22 children were murdered after being taken hostage in the local school.
  • Various terror operations from 1978 to December 1987 took the lives of 114 Jews.
  • Twenty years after the Six Day War, in December 1987, a change in the terror activity began when the First Intifada erupted. Initially, it was characterized by stone-throwing and improvised weapons, but it shifted to gunfire and firebomb attacks especially against Israelis in the territories. From 1987 to 1992, 155 Israelis were murdered.
  • Immediately following the signing of the Oslo agreements on September 13, 1993, mass-casualty bombings began. Most were perpetrated by Hamas and Islamic Jihad. From the signing of the initial agreements with the PLO to the Oslo 2 agreements in September 1995, 164 people were murdered in terror attacks, and hundreds of others were injured.
  • Late in September 2000, the Second Intifada broke out. Under explicit orders from Yasser Arafat, all the Palestinian terror organizations took part. In the course of five years, over a thousand Jews were murdered and many thousands injured.
  • After the disengagement from the Gaza Strip and the total evacuation of Israeli civilians and soldiers in August 2005, Hamas took over the entire territory and began to fire at Israeli communities across the border. Until the end of 2014, more than 10,000 mortars and rockets were launched, causing the deaths of 32 Jews and the injury of 1,396.
  • From June 2012 to the present, in addition to the rocket fire, waves of “popular terror” perpetrated by groups and individuals have included stone-throwing, firebombing, vehicle ramming, and several shooting attacks at Israeli vehicles in Judea and Samaria. In the summer of 2014 such actions intensified amid violent disturbances in east Jerusalem and on the Temple Mount, as part of Islamic religious activity on behalf of the Al-Aqsa Mosque.

Three especially noteworthy terror attacks occurred in this period. On November 18, 2014, two terrorists murdered four worshippers and severely injured eight others in a synagogue in Jerusalem’s Har Nof neighborhood. An Israeli Druze policeman was also killed in the attack. On January 1, 2016, an Israeli Arab murdered three people and injured seven on Dizengoff Street in Tel Aviv. On June 8, 2016, a terror attack in Tel Aviv’s Sarona Market killed four Israelis.

The methods employed by Palestinian Arab terror are similar to terrorists’ methods all over the world, and particularly, of late, in Europe:

  • Stabbing attacks
  • Shooting attacks in crowded public places
  • Explosive devices
  • Car bombings, suicide bombings
  • Vehicle-ramming attacks, and
  • Attacks on aviation

It cannot be ruled out that at some point terrorists in Europe, like Hizbullah and Hamas, will make use of high-trajectory rocket and missile fire.

An Israeli airport security guard
An Israeli airport security guard patrols with a dog in Ben Gurion airport near Tel Aviv, Israel. Ben Gurion ariport is considered among the most secure airports in the world, as an outcome of several Palestinian attacks on Israeli planes and travelers in the 1970s. (AP Photo/Ariel Schalit)

Israel’s Struggle against Terror

As noted, the struggle against Palestinian Arab terror began before the establishment of the Israeli state and has continued for more than 100 years to the present day. Clearly, Israel’s battle is unique in nature and serves as an example to the world. Our fight against terror has become a laboratory where many lessons are learned. Original, highly sophisticated methods are employed in the field itself when incidents occur. Indeed, fighting terror is part of Israel’s approach to security. Israeli society has always accepted this approach without question. In the past, just as today, it has understood that the phenomenon must be confronted head-on because every Israeli citizen is a target both in Israel and abroad and must protect him/herself. Hence Israeli society has given latitude to the security forces, even if it sometimes entails constraining freedom of movement and disrupting ordinary life. In the early 1970s, for example, the Territorial Defense and Civil Defense Corps were established. In this framework, armed reservists check bags at entrances to public places, inspect schools and kindergartens, and security guards are stationed at the airport and in airplanes.

As the terror waves have intensified, Israel has ramped up its struggle. It has expanded the intelligence activity of the Israel Security Agency (Shin Bet) and made use of retaliatory operations in enemy territory, surprise arrests and administrative detentions, expulsions, roadblocks, targeted assassinations of terror leaders and operatives in enemy territory – and, after the 1972 massacre of the Israeli athletes in Munich, terrorist leaders were targeted in Europe as well.

Israel also has not hesitated to launch daring operations at home and abroad, such as the Entebbe Operation in July 1976 or sophisticated rescue operations, such as the one that freed the Sabena-airplane hostages at Lod (now Ben-Gurion) Airport in May 1972.

This Israeli policy has complemented the prevention of terror attacks, while also aiming to capture perpetrators and those who dispatch them. To that end, special anti-terror units have been established, including units in which soldiers disguise themselves as Arabs to carry out operations.

It should be emphasized that in many cases Israel has, regrettably, failed to thwart, or sometimes to anticipate, terror attacks that have taken many lives. In democratic countries, leaders always vacillate and confront dilemmas when dealing with concrete information on a “ticking bomb,” since any targeted killing may also take innocent lives. Despite the many dangers involved, the accurate intelligence that Israel has developed has enabled it to foil numerous attacks. Along with the failures and vacillations, many successes can be counted.

Terrorists always try to carry out attacks in whatever way possible. Even if we do not always read about such attempts in the media, it does not mean the intentions do not exist. Thanks to good and accurate intelligence, attacks are usually thwarted, even if only at the last moment.

Europe’s Struggle against Terror

Since the outbreak of the Arab Spring in Tunisia on December 17, 2010, Europe has been coping with two interrelated challenges:

  • The Islamic terror wave perpetrated by Muslims with European citizenship, and
  • A massive and not hermetically controlled migration wave of Middle Eastern and North African refugees

Indeed, for the first time since the end of World War II, immigrants now pose a substantial, even existential threat to the countries of Europe and to its liberal and democratic values. Previous immigration waves from Eastern Europe, and even from Africa, did not constitute a security threat. These immigrants were able to integrate into European society without undermining conventions, authority, or existing laws, despite encountering difficulties of absorption and even xenophobia.

In confronting these two challenges, the European community has a hard time finding appropriate solutions. It fears that any clear-cut, uncompromising solution could result in violent conflict and dent the basic principles of individual freedom. Such a solution could also damage human rights and freedom of movement within a modern and enlightened community that has enshrined the removal of barriers and borders, and particularly the absorption of immigrants without regard for race and religion.

Moreover, Europe still distinguishes between terror and terror, between “freedom fighters,” guerrillas, and terrorists. It continues to believe that a political purpose, such as removing an occupation or overthrowing a tyrannical or disputed government, sanctions violent methods.

The PLO was established in 1964. By the 1970s, much of Europe had accepted the PLO’s terror attacks and airplane hijackings as a legitimate means of political struggle. It also allowed the PLO to open diplomatic offices. To this very day, Europe wavers on making a distinction between a political wing and a military wing. It casually accepts Hizbullah leaders in a Lebanese government while ignoring Hizbullah’s destructive military power, the policy of terror that it pursues throughout the world, and its threats to destroy Israel. Europe behaved the same way in the 1970s toward the PLO’s terror factions, and today it displays the same attitude toward Hamas, which it views, like Hizbullah and the Muslim Brotherhood, as a social movement devoted to education and charity.

Three jet airliners hijacked by Palestinian militants
Three jet airliners hijacked by Palestinian militants are blown up at Dawson’s Field, Jordan, September 12, 1970. (Rolls Press/Getty Images)

Europe also has trouble formulating a consistent policy toward terror because it is still confused about defining the concept itself: What is terror? And who is a terrorist? This confusion about terror or a stubborn refusal to define it, including Palestinian, Arab, or Islamic terror, goes back to the 1970s.

Defining the Concept of Terror and Who Is Considered a Terrorist

To fight terror, one must first define what it is and who is a terrorist.

The word terreur first emerged at the end of the French Revolution in November 1794 as large numbers of opponents of the revolution were being brought to the gallows. The Reign of Terror waged by Maximilien Robespierre continued until he was guillotined.

In the nineteenth century, the word terror came to signify violent activity against the regime itself. Over the years, “reign of terror” was used to characterize any tyrannical regime that cruelly repressed a local population or conducted “purifications” against political opponents or particular communities; the term was used for the infamous regime of Stalin in the Soviet Union.

Since the 1970s, when attacks on Israeli and European targets proliferated, along with airline hijackings and hostage-taking in general, the concept of terror has focused on violent, deadly activity by individuals or groups against innocent civilians or against strategic targets or infrastructures. Already at that time, media reporting in Europe was biased and highly dependent on the worldview of the journalist and the ideological line of the newspaper he represented. The reporting for the British Guardian or the French Liberation and Le Monde, which belong to the left side of the map, or for a paper like Le Figaro that tends to the right, differed accordingly.

The main question asked since that time is whether any violent act committed for a political purpose is an act of terror. What is the legal significance of such acts, and how does one cope with them? For example, is a militia organization like Hizbullah a terror group or, as it defines itself, a sociopolitical organization? Has the PLO, since its founding in 1964, indeed been a terror organization if its aspirations have been political and national, focused on establishing a Palestinian state? While the Europeans continue to ponder these questions, in Israel there is no ambiguity about the definition: these are terror organizations in every regard.

Amid the maze of concepts and in light of all the questions, we must also distinguish between domestic terror and international terror, between the struggle against political terror and terror directed at organizations, groups, or individuals. It is important to note that, unlike terror that operates within a state, with the terrorists or anarchists keeping a low profile or even going underground, international and Islamic terror requires the attention of world public opinion and the media to consider itself successful.

When it comes to defining political terror, a case in point is the terror that Syria planned and financed for many years. The regime both openly and covertly supported George Habash’s terror organization, the Popular Front, and the Al-Saiqa organization; it mounted terror and sabotage operations on Lebanese soil directly or with the help of Hizbullah or Palestinian groups. Colonel Qaddafi was also active against Israel and the West, including the terror attack on the Pan-Am plane over Lockerbie, Scotland. And one must not forget, of course, that the Ayatollah regime in Iran was responsible, among other things, for the terror attacks against the Israeli embassy and the Jewish community center in Buenos Aires, and against U.S. and French military targets in Lebanon. With the help of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps and Hizbullah, the Iranian regime continues to plan and carry out terror attacks.

The Europeans enabled Syria, Libya, Iran, as well as Palestinian representations to exploit their diplomatic immunity for terror purposes. The “diplomatic pouch” was used to clandestinely transfer explosives and weapons. Embassies served as a refuge for terrorists.

Indeed, there are almost daily terror attacks in the Arab-Muslim world that do not always garner headlines and commentary in the international media. Car bombs explode in or beside crowded mosques and markets in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and many other places in the world.

Terror attacks are perpetrated by both Sunni and Shiite organizations during Muslim holidays, including the Ramadan fast.

Interestingly, the Europeans do not hesitate to define as terror the attacks perpetrated in their own territory by separatist groups such as the Basque ETA, the Irish IRA, or the Corsican FLNC, which since 1976 have demanded the liberation and independence of Corsica.

The actions of the OAS, the clandestine military organization that was established in the 1960s to oppose General de Gaulle and protect the presence of a million French subjects in Algeria, was unhesitatingly defined as terror despite the fact that the organization’s chiefs were well-respected army officers. The OAS caused more than 12,000 deaths among the French civilian population as well as 500 deaths among security forces.

Unlike in the case of these organizations, Europe is very cautious when it comes to defining violent, hostile acts by Arab/Islamic organizations. For example, the French authorities, and most of the media as well, usually use ostensibly neutral, objective terminology. The avoidance of publishing the names and pictures of the terrorists is a further indication of the problem.

But when it comes to terror in Israel, most attacks against IDF soldiers or settlers are defined by Europeans according to notions from the colonial period; the word colons (colonists) constantly appears in reports. Such attacks are not adequately covered, and most of the reports and articles are biased and focus on the Palestinian side. It is usually implied that the terror attack is legitimate, and the victim is always Palestinian.

Already in the 1970s, terror began to increase both in the Middle East and against Jewish and Israeli targets all over the world. Especially active were Palestinians from the Black September organization, which was funded and assisted by Arab states, and from Habash’s Popular Front, which was assisted by radical-left organizations such as the German Baader-Meinhof Group and the Japanese Red Army.

These organizations, among other things, hijacked passenger planes and took hostages, and also attacked airports. On May 30, 1972, 25 people were massacred at Lod Airport by a terrorist group of the Japanese Red Army led by Kōzō Okamoto. The three terrorists, bearing suitcases loaded with weapons and hand grenades, arrived on an Air France plane.

Meanwhile, undoubtedly the first spectacular terror attack on European soil occurred during the September 1972 Olympic Games in Munich, where 11 Israeli athletes were murdered.

That incident encapsulates all the problems that now bedevil the struggle against Islamic terror in Europe:

  • An intelligence failure
  • A security failure
  • A rescue-attempt failure
  • A media failure marked by confused and manipulative messages
  • Defining a terror attack as a political act, and the International Olympic Committee’s refusal to hold an official memorial ceremony for the Israeli athletes out of a professed reluctance to mix sports and politics

From the 1970s to the present, dozens of terror organizations have operated mainly in the Middle East, the Maghreb, and Europe. The FLN (National Liberation Front), which fought for Algeria’s liberation from 1954 until its independence from the French in 1962, was the first to provide inspiration for Arab and Palestinian terror. Algeria was the first Arab country to support Fatah. President Ahmed Ben Bella allowed the Palestinian terror organization to establish an office as early as 1964; it was headed by Arafat’s deputy Abu Jihad.

The FLN, which eventually became a political party and today is still a governing party, also inspired the Islamic terrorists of Algerian extraction who currently operate particularly in France and Belgium. Several other terror groups were headed by Palestinians, as follows:

  • Black September: Established on November 28, 1971, after the assassination of Jordanian Prime Minister Wasfi al-Tal in Cairo. The group carried out more than 40 spectacular attacks, of which the most famous was the massacre of the Israeli athletes at the Munich Olympics. Black September was assisted by Arab states and international terror organizations such as Baader-Meinhof, the Red Brigades in Italy, and the Japanese Red Army. Indeed, anarchist and radical-left groups have helped with infrastructure and preparation for a long list of Palestinian terror attacks in Europe.

  • The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine: Headed by George Habash. It carried out dozens of terror attacks, the most notable of which occurred on September 7, 1970, at an airfield near Zarka, Jordan, where hijacked passenger planes of several Western airlines were taken and destroyed. When Habash was hospitalized in Paris on January 25, 1992, France opposed Israel’s request to extradite him “on humanitarian grounds.” Similarly, when on January 16, 1977, the terrorist Abu Daoud – responsible among other things for planning the Munich massacre – was arrested in Paris, France refused to extradite him to Germany or to Israel, and, indeed, freed him three days after his arrest.

  • The Abu Nidal Organization: Carried out dozens of barbaric terror attacks all over the world with the help and sponsorship of Iraq, Libya, and Syria. In June 1982, this group attempted to assassinate the Israeli ambassador in London, Shlomo Argov, which triggered the outbreak of the First Lebanon War a few days later.

A rare interview that Abu Nidal (Sabri Khalil al-Banna) gave to the German weekly Der Spiegel on October 14, 1985, illustrates his ideology. To the question “Who are your enemies?” he replied: “The Zionists who occupy Palestine, my homeland. And the imperialists of all kinds are my enemy.” To the question whether terror attacks are a legitimate means to achieve goals, he replied without hesitation: “Certainly! And they are very legitimate. The great and abhorrent crime in my eyes is to enable the Zionists to leave our homeland when they are still alive and the imperialists to rule the world.”

Historical Lessons and Main Conclusions from the Past

  • More than 45 years since the first terror attacks in Europe and 15 years since the Twin Towers attack in New York, terror continues to attract great interest all over the world. It also took 10 long years for the Americans to track down and kill Osama Bin Laden despite all the intelligence and military means and the abundant and advanced resources at their disposal.
  • Whoever does not explicitly define what constitutes terror and who is a terrorist is unable to fight the destructive phenomenon that afflicts today’s world.
  • For years, Europe staunchly refused to listen to Israeli warnings about fighting international terror, and it avoided cooperative activity. It refused to station security guards on airplanes and take security measures at airports. Israel, along with the El Al company, were the first in the world to take appropriate measures. The result was the prevention of hijackings and terror attacks at El Al counters both abroad and at Ben-Gurion Airport.
  • For political reasons, Europe preferred to look inward and avoid taking concrete measures. When the energy crisis emerged in the wake of the Yom Kippur War, Europe capitulated to the oil producers’ pressure and opted for the petrodollars. It supplied huge quantities of weapons, even to Qaddafi’s Libya, to get barrels of oil in return.
  • France even refused to indict and extradite two Palestinian terror chiefs, George Habash and Abu Daoud, who went free in the streets of Paris. If France had listened to Israel at the time, it would now be less confused and more resolute in its struggle against the terror attacks that are besetting its cities. It would even be able to prevent them and save lives.
  • It bears emphasizing that all the Islamic terror attacks in France in recent years have been perpetrated by European citizens born in France or Belgium whose parents were born in North Africa. Policy has turned out to be self-defeating.
  • Europe still has trouble distinguishing between the war on terror, with all its aspects and ramifications, and solving political issues such as the Palestinian problem. It still clings to the gravely mistaken belief that as soon as the Palestinian problem is solved, all hostile actions and terror in Europe will come to a complete halt.
  • Unlike the Europeans, the Jews have been fighting Arab terror since before Israel was established and before the Six Day War and the “occupation of the territories.” The goal of Arab terror in all its varieties has not changed since the beginning of the previous century. Its goal then and now has been to sow terror and apprehension in the Jewish civilian population and expel it from its land. Palestinian Arab terror, like Islamic terror in Europe, indiscriminately targets innocent civilians, including women, the elderly, and children, who merely want to live normal, peaceful lives.
  • The Europeans and the Palestinians err when they equate the actions of underground Jewish groups during the British Mandate, such as the IZL and Lehi with terror, and when they sometimes characterize Menachem Begin or Yitzhak Shamir as terrorists. There is no comparison between underground activity specifically directed at infrastructure, institutions, or foreign military personnel who were in Israel on the basis of the Mandate and were given warnings before each operation against them, and barbaric, cruel, indiscriminate terror against a civilian population including women, the elderly, and children.
  • The Europeans and the Palestinians also err when they characterize “Jewish terror” as a phenomenon on a national level and Israel as a “terror state.” Every society has its extremists, its wild weeds, whom we must utterly abhor, condemn, and overcome. They constitute a tiny handful. Unlike the Arab-Muslim world and the Palestinians, however, Israel is an exemplary country of laws that arrests and prosecutes any extremist who has committed an act of terror against Arabs or Christians in the name of an ideology or religion. It does not send children and women to carry out terror attacks and does not encourage, educate, incite, finance, or perpetrate terror as Iran and the Palestinians do. On the contrary, Israel fights against every form of terror and incitement with all possible means. Israeli society also bitterly condemns every act by Jewish extremists, unlike Palestinian society that takes to the streets in revelry, with drums and cymbals, after every terror attack on Jews. For the Palestinians, the terrorist always becomes a martyr and a national hero, and his family receives an award and financial assistance for the barbaric act of terror.
  • Unlike the Europeans, who have trouble defining Islamic terror, the terror organizations know full well what their objective is and who their enemies are. They declare openly that their objective is to attack – as part of an all-out war and in the name of Islam – all non-Muslims, that is, all “the infidels who live in the West,” both Christians and Jews (and some other Muslims). The terror organizations view Western culture and the free, modern world as the complete antithesis of their religion and way of life. They despise democratic values, secularism, the modern world, and even human rights.
  • From Israel’s perspective, “terror is terror, ” and it does not matter if it is perpetrated in Paris, Brussels, London, New York, or Tel Aviv. If we can manage to define terror in that way, the struggle against it will be simpler. We will then reach the conclusion that the goals, targets, and modes of activity are similar all over the world.
  • From an Israeli standpoint there is no essential difference between the goals of the Palestinian Arab terror organizations, which are supposedly struggling against “the Zionists” and “the Israeli occupation,” and those of the Islamic terror movements, whether Sunni or Shiite. The above-quoted statements of Abu Nidal to Der Spiegel constitute an ideological platform for all the Palestinian terror organizations to this day. Their worldview and forms of activity do not fundamentally differ from those of the Islamic organizations now operating in Europe. Both display deeply rooted anti-Semitism. Both deny the Holocaust and openly call for the Jews’ annihilation. The only difference between them is the emphasis on the religious-jihadist aspect; their aims regarding the West as a whole are identical.
  • For the anti-terror struggle to succeed, the media must be sympathetic to it. All forms of media, and especially the social networks, have a responsibility of the highest order and an extremely important role to play. The January 2015 terror attack on the editorial staff of Charlie Hebdo in Paris illustrates the great dilemma faced by journalists when covering Islam and the implications for liberal values in Europe.
  • The terrorists’ aim is not only to sow terror and apprehension among the population at large but also to intimidate journalists, opinion makers, and political leaders. To recoil in fear is out of the question; signs of weakness and hesitation are effective weapons in the terrorists’ hands. Likewise, disinformation and propaganda and the wide and uncontrolled publicity now bestowed on the various terror organizations encourage ongoing attacks and hamper the struggle.
  • When terror attacks occur, the media must exercise restraint in its live coverage from the field, prevent panic, and report only in a manner that is fair, credible, and unaffected by interests or political motives, especially when the incident is related to Israel or the Palestinians. Likewise, the authorities must report events to the public in a way that is transparent and trustworthy.
  • In Israel, there is great appreciation for the various security branches and affection for special IDF units and the intelligence services such as the Mossad. Since the earliest days of the state, Israelis have internalized the fact that their security depends on these entities. Israelis serve in the army for three years and subsequently, in reserve duty, know how to use weapons, and in some cases are armed. In this way, Israeli society, unlike the Europeans, enables taking drastic measures to fight terror of all kinds and also cooperates in apprehending terrorists. At the same time, Israeli society ensures that the struggle is conducted within the framework of the laws of a democratic state.
  • Israel is aware that there is no magic solution to terror, and that intelligence, military, legal, and technological efforts must be made to reduce destruction and save lives. Israeli society has the national fortitude for the endeavor. Alertness is high in streets and public places, and any irregular or suspicious object evokes suspicion.
  • Europeans must alter their mentality and routine behavior, out of positive motives and without coercion, with the supreme goal of ensuring their wellbeing and security.

* * *


The following is a list of the most notable terror attacks, from the Munich Olympics to the present, committed specifically in the European context by Palestinian Arab and Islamic organizations:

  • September 15, 1974 – A car bombing in the Latin Quarter of Paris by the Front for the Liberation of Palestine. Two dead, 34 wounded.
  • June 27, 1976 – The hijacking of an Air France plane after it took off from Ben-Gurion Airport and made an intermediate stop in Athens. There it was seized by two German terrorists and two Palestinians from the Popular Front, who had it flown to Entebbe, Uganda. After all diplomatic efforts to free the passengers had failed, the Israeli government decided on a daring rescue mission. It came to be known as Operation Jonathan after the commander of the Sayeret Matkal commando unit, Yoni Netanyahu, who was killed during it. It should be noted that the French government reacted with chagrin. Despite the fact that a French plane, crew members, and passengers were involved, Paris officially condemned the rescue as a “violation of a foreign country’s [Uganda’s] sovereignty.”
  • May 20, 1978 – At the Orly Airport near Paris, three terrorists from the Popular Front opened fired in the passenger terminal. A French policeman was killed, and three tourists were injured. The terrorists were killed.
  • July 27, 1980 – A Palestinian from the Abu Nidal Organization threw a grenade at Jewish students in a school in Antwerp, Belgium. One dead, 20 injured.
  • October 3, 1980 – A terror attack at the Copernic Synagogue in Paris. Four were killed, including an Israeli woman, Aliza Shagrir. This attack shocked the French because it was the first in France against a Jewish target since the Second World War. At first, the authorities spoke of an anti-Semitic attack carried about by the extreme right, and a huge demonstration was held against fascism and racism in which various organizations, including far-left ones, took part. Only after Israeli pressure and an investigation that took almost 27 years, was the Palestinian terrorist from the Popular Front arrested in Canada. He was extradited to France and prosecuted there, but released after 18 months in May 2016.
  • October 20, 1981 – A truck bombing next to a synagogue in Antwerp. The huge explosion caused the deaths of three people, injuries to more than 100, and great damage to the synagogue and its surroundings.
  • August 9, 1982 – A terror attack on the Goldenberg restaurant in the Jewish Quarter of Paris. Six killed, 22 injured. The Abu Nidal Organization took responsibility.
  • April 12, 1985 – A car bombing at a café in downtown Madrid. Eighteen killed, 82 injured. The Islamic Jihad group took responsibility.
  • October 7, 1985 – Four PLO terrorists hijacked an Italian ship, the Achille Lauro, as it was sailing from Alexandria to Port Said in Egypt. The hijackers fatally shot a wheelchair-bound American Jewish passenger.
  • December 27, 1985 – Shooting attacks by the Abu Nidal Organization on the El Al counters at the Rome and Vienna airports. Eighteen dead, 140 injured.
  • July 11, 1988 – A rigged taxi exploded at Piraeus Port in Greece. In addition, hand grenades were thrown and shots fired at the deck of a ship. Nine killed, about 100 injured. The Abu Nidal Organization took responsibility.
  • December 21, 1988 – A Pan Am Boeing 747 was blown up over Lockerbie, Scotland, killing 270 people. Colonel Qaddafi was responsible.
  • From July to October 17, 1995 – A series of terror attacks were perpetrated in Paris by an Iranian-affiliated organization called the Armed Islamic Group. Eight killed, about 200 injured.
  • December 3, 1996 – An explosive device went off in the Paris Metro. Four killed, 85 injured. The Armed Islamic Group took responsibility.
  • March 11, 2004 –A series of explosions on trains and railroad tracks in Madrid. One hundred ninety-one killed, 2,050 injured. Al-Qaeda took responsibility.
  • July 7, 2005 – Suicide bombings in London. Fifty-two killed, 700 injured. Al-Qaeda took responsibility.
  • March 19, 2012 – In Toulouse, a French-Algerian terrorist, Mohamed Merah, fatally shot three French soldiers. At the Otzar Hatorah school, Moreh murdered a rabbi, two of his children, and another child.
  • July 18, 2012 – A suicide bombing on a bus carrying Israelis parked at the Port of Burgas in Bulgaria. Six dead, 30 injured. Hizbullah took responsibility.
  • May 22, 2013 – In London, a vehicle-ramming, stabbing, and beheading attack against a British soldier.
  • May 24, 2014 – A shooting attack at the Jewish Museum in Brussels. Four killed. The Islamic State takes responsibility.
  • January 7-9, 2015 – A terror attack at the offices of the editorial staff of Charlie Hebdo and against a Jewish supermarket in Paris. Seventeen killed, 22 injured. Al-Qaeda and the Islamic State take responsibility.
  • February 14, 2015 – The terrorist Omar el-Hussein fired at policemen in downtown Copenhagen. He killed a policeman and injured two. El-Hussein managed to escape and the next day murdered a Jewish security guard at the city’s Great Synagogue.
  • June 26, 2015 – Car-bomb and beheading attacks that killed a factory manager near Paris. In possession of the terrorist, Yassin Salhi, were an Islamic State flag and jihadist banners.
  • August 21, 2015 – On a train from the Netherlands to France, an armed man opened fire and stabbed three passengers. He was subdued by three American soldiers on leave.
  • November 13, 2015 – A combined terror onslaught against several targets in Paris. One hundred thirty killed, 368 injured. The Islamic State took responsibility.
  • March 22, 2016 – Suicide bombings at the Brussels Airport and metro station. Thirty-two killed, 340 injured. The Islamic State took responsibility.
  • June 13, 2016 – A Muslim terrorist murdered a French police officer and his wife, a police secretary, near Paris.
  • July 14, 2016 – On Bastille Day, a ramming attack with a truck on the promenade of the resort city of Nice on the French Riviera. Eighty-five killed, including 10 children; more than 310 injured.
  • July 26, 2016 – Islamic terrorists armed with knives took hostages at a French church. They slit the throat of an elderly local priest and critically injured a nun.