A top IDF officer said Thursday that the army has had to deal with ever more aggressive and frequent attempts by Arab terrorists to kidnap IDF soldiers and Israeli civilians. So far this year some 20 kidnap attempts have been recorded in Judea and Samaria, the officer said.
The “hot threat” warnings are no longer limited to a specific time and place, as they had been in the past, but are ongoing, meaning that there is an imminent danger of a kidnapping taking place anywhere at any time of the day. “Terror groups are constantly on patrol looking for situations they can take advantage of,” the officer said. “Their preference is for soldiers, because they feel that can extract the highest 'price' for them.”
The motivation of terrorist groups to kidnap Israelis in order to use them as bargaining chips to release terrorists has shot up since Israel released over 1,000 terrorists in exchange for Gilad Shalit. There are currently over 8,000 terrorists and security prisoners in Israeli prisons today.
As a result, the IDF has revamped its instructions to soldiers traveling in Judea and Samaria. “Do not stand alone at an intersection, do not stand at a bus or transport station alone, make sure you are in constant touch with touch with your commanders, and report any unusual activity.” While those instructions were issued to soldiers, the officer said, civilians would do well to adopt them as well. In order to reduce the opportunities for kidnappings, the IDF has instituted regular patrols on popular routes. The patrols will increase the presence of the IDF on the roads, and will also be on the lookout for soldiers who violate the instructions.
The dangers of kidnapping are not limited to Judea and Samaria, nor to the rest of Israel. Jews around the world are vulnerable, the officer said. “Hizbullah, Islamic Jihad, and other Iranian-backed groups are still looking to take revenge for Israel's elimination of some top terrorists. We have been receiving information from security sources all over the world indicating the dangers, which are still strong. Even though the warning against civilians to travel to Turkey, for example, has been lifted, anyone who goes there needs to be very careful. IDF soldiers are forbidden to go there under any circumstances,” the officer added.