Israel '22 - Chronicles of Terror

Israel, spring 2022. In the worst series of terror since the end of the second Intifada, 19 people die within a few weeks. Malte Lauterbach reports from Israel about the events at the beginning of the year and the current aftermath.

Source: Security cameras / Israeli police. Censorship by the author

Sunday, March 27, 2022, 20:40 p.m

An unusually cold sea wind blows through the streets of Hadera on this spring evening, past restaurants, a laundromat, a playground, a few walkers, past the two border police officers Yazan Falah and Shirel Abukarat, who are waiting at a bus stop. The two have known each other for a long time and met before training. They had spent the evening in the city and were on their way home when suddenly shots were fired. Two men in white overalls open fire without warning, the two young police officers die on the spot, fatally shot. The entire attack lasts less than 10 minutes, after which the two assassins are shot dead by two police officers. The sad result: 12 passers-by and police officers were injured, some seriously, and their lives were in danger for days. The two police officers are buried a few days later. They had just turned 19 years old. Shirel Abukarat moved to Israel from France with her family as a child; her mother wanted to guarantee her a safe life.

Image source: Israeli Defense Forces

Shortly before the crime, the two attackers published a Facebook video in which they claimed support for the Islamic State - a terrorist group that was considered defeated here in Israel after the interventions in Iraq (Enno Lenze reported) and the events in the Syrian civil war

Tuesday, March 29, 2022, 20:07 p.m.

Bnei Brak is considered the de facto epicenter of Orthodox Jews in Israel. It is one of the most densely populated cities in the world, with more than 200.000 people living on an area of ​​just 1700 hectares. The narrow streets are lined with high-rise buildings behind which the sun has long since set. The streets, which hardly give off any heat, are, as on most days, clogged with evening car traffic.
The cacophony of car horns and engine noise is suddenly interrupted by rapid gunfire, and a gunman suddenly opens fire on passers-by. Three people die in the hail of bullets. A young man escapes after the assassin's rifle malfunctions.
The shooter first follows him, but then moves on to the street opposite, where 29-year-old Rabbi Avishai Yehezkel is taking an evening walk with his two-year-old child.
The young man understands what is happening, throws himself protectively in front of his son and is hit by several bullets. He still manages to warn his brother by telephone. He then collapses and dies on site.
A short time later, the shooter was shot dead by a motorcycle police officer. He was only 3 years older than his last victim. To this day it is unclear how he got the murder weapon, an M-16 rifle. He also probably had ties to the Islamic State and had come to Israel from a nearby town in the West Bank.

Thursday, April 7, 2022, 21:17 p.m.

Diezengoff Street is one of Tel Aviv's most important traffic arteries; fashion shops, restaurants, more or less shady bars, nightclubs and everything else that makes a young adult's heart beat faster are lined up along the four-lane street.

On this still fresh evening, the street is filled with young people on their way to celebrate the start of the weekend and drink outrageously expensive beers in the numerous bars. Tomer Morad and Eytam Magini, both 27 years old, also came to Tel Aviv from Kfar Saba and are sitting at one of the small tables in the small Ilka bar and enjoying the evening atmosphere when suddenly shots are fired and glass breaks. The two men were hit by multiple shots and died a few hours later in a Tel Aviv hospital. Ten others were wounded, some seriously, and another died a short time later from his serious injuries. The attacker, a 28-year-old Palestinian who was never considered conspicuous by the authorities in the past, died a few hours later in a battle with Israeli special forces in Jaffa after a massive search operation.

When you encounter war and terror as a journalist, you tend to see people as objects - as numbers, as statistics. It is certainly more convenient to simply write “2022 people died in spring 19 terrorist attacks in Israel,” as I did in the introduction to the article, but morally it is wrong. It is more pleasant for journalists and readers to write (and read) “So and so many people died, so and so many were injured, etc., etc.”
In fact, this causes the reader to unconsciously distance themselves from the news.
It is the author's job to build a relationship between the story and the reader. The reader must be aware that there are faces and stories behind the numbers. I have encountered this problem before during my work on the war in Yemen - and have written about the problem several times. It didn't change much, but I realized how important it is to try to build an emotional connection with the reader.

Everything that concerns hard facts has already been written down tens of thousands of times in the last 5 months. What remains are the people, not just those left behind, but also those 19 who perished. In order to at least briefly report on these fates, I wrote down the events of the spring in this “atypical” way. It is not possible for me to go into the fate of each individual, but rather the aim is to describe the situation and show the shock. And it is exactly this shock that hits Israel. As Eingans mentioned, this is the deadliest wave of attacks since the second intifada. Prime Minister Lapid puts the Israeli police on high alert and several thousand soldiers are deployed to particularly vulnerable areas near the West Bank to prevent further attacks and ensure peace in Israel. And this shaky peace lasts into August, with the events of August filling a separate article and therefore being reported separately.

Malte Lauterbach doing research

While the Israeli sun is slowly setting behind a hill here, I would like to thank you for reading and invite you to ask me any questions.