IDF severely underreports Palestinian terror incidents

Two-thirds of all stonings and Molotov cocktail attacks in Judea and Samaria are not included in the army’s year-end summation.

By Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News

The IDF severely underreported the number of terrorist incidents in Judea and Samaria in its summation for 2020, Maariv reported Saturday night.

According to the IDF, there were 1,500 stone-throwing and 229 Molotov cocktail attacks by Palestinians in Judea and Samaria in the past year. However, a closer look at the data showed that the army was only counting attempts to maim and kill civilians in cars and settlements. Attacks on soldiers, the separation fence and IDF bases were purposefully not included.

According to reporter Kalman Liebskind, when he asked the IDF Spokesperson’s Unit for the full count, the numbers skyrocketed to 3,951 stone-throwings and the flinging of 698 Molotov cocktails. This means that fully 62% and 67% respectively of these attacks were not entered into the final report.

The Spokesman’s Unit did not give a reason for excluding two-thirds of the attacks except to say that “someone” had changed the criteria for reporting the numbers to the public two years ago, and it has simply stayed that way ever since. Liebskind added that as a result of his inquiries, the army stated said that “Starting in 2021, the data will be published in a manner that will include throwing stones and Molotov cocktails at IDF forces.”

Liebskind, who credited website Hakol Hayehudi with pointing out the discrepancy, then commented that this was the same answer the IDF gave two years ago when the website revealed the doctored numbers when they had first appeared.

The question remains, he said, why the IDF is not being forthright with the public as to the number of terror attacks suffered by residents and soldiers in Judea and Samaria.

A parallel article in the weekend edition of the newspaper Besheva noted disparate numbers of attacks even in the civilian sector, as recorded by Hatzalah Without Borders, the first-aid organization that helps all residents of Judea and Samaria.

In its own year-end report, Hatzalah noted 1,884 incidents of Arabs attacking cars with rocks, 26% more than what the IDF said. The discrepancy in the Molotov cocktail category is much more severe, as they recorded 495 such incidents on the roads, which is more than twice the official number.

The Hatzalah report pointed out that in actuality, even its numbers should be higher, because a stone- or cocktail-throwing incident was only counted once, even if more than one car was targeted by the perpetrators at the time.

Hatzalah Without Borders also counted some 50 incidents of paint-filled bottles and plastic bags thrown at cars, which could easily cause drivers to swerve and lose control of their cars as well, although “by miracle, in such cases buses and vehicles were not involved in serious accidents.”

This equals an average of some 6.5 attacks per day on the roads of the region. It was only a matter of luck that the number of injured was a low 154 people, including 71 civilians, and 668 vehicles were damaged.

Considering that such attacks are legally considered attempted murder, it may be surprising to learn that in 2019-2020, only 419 cases were opened against stone-throwers, and 262 against those who threw flame-bursting bottles. The IDF gave out these numbers after the Lavi organization that fights for proper administration and civil rights requested the data under Israel’s Freedom of Information Act.