Social media generation presents new challenge for Israel’s security services; young Palestinians who turn into lone-wolf terrorists harder to spot.
The newly released US peace plan marks the end of an era. The two-state vision of the 1993 Oslo Accord has become obsolete. Soon, the Palestinian generation associated with Oslo will be gone, too. An aging leadership still clings to power, but a new generation will drive future conflict with Israel.
Israelis started to encounter this generation in recent years. Young Palestinians would grab a knife and head out to stab civilians or police officers. The security services eventually curbed this wave of violence with creative strategies and new technologies. But the underlying energies that sparked the stabbing spree persist.
The new generation is different than its elders in some key ways. It shows apathy and antipathy to both Fatah and Hamas, which it views as corrupt and detached. The youngsters who carried out stabbing attacks often acted alone, with no affiliation to any movement or terrorist group.
This made it harder to spot potential attackers, and sometimes meant that the motivation to resort to violence was more complex than before. Notably, personal and individualistic impulses started to play a bigger role than traditional catalysts.
Social Media Generation
Moreover, the new generation in the West Bank, like its peers elsewhere, is a big fan of social media. This enables Palestinian youngsters to connect in new ways, exposes them to global trends, and offers an effective platform for spreading radical messages.
Emotionally charged online discourse mixed with sophisticated and stylish propaganda create a potent brew. Psychologically, young Palestinians are empowered by a sense of being a part of a larger community.
The broad reach of social networks also offers the incentive of wide publicity and potential glory. Some of the high-profile stabbers turned into mini-celebrities and won the admiration of other youngsters.
Finally, Palestinian youngsters have no personal memories of the high price of previous rounds of fighting against Israel. They did not see IDF battalions storming their streets or the devastation that followed. This, and the natural recklessness of young age, makes them bolder and undeterred.
The new generation’s reaction to President Trump’s peace plan is still unknown, military correspondent Amir Bohbot wrote in news website Walla! yesterday. But as defense officials brace for fresh violence, they are keeping a close watch on these young Palestinians, he wrote.