Illustration: Arab gunmen in Gaza
Illustration: Arab gunmen in GazaFlash 90

There are many terrorist groups, and countries, seeking to escalate the Arab-Israeli conflict, Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon warned Tuesday.

The Palestinian Authority is not seeking to escalate terrorist attacks on Israel, he said, but terrorism is likely to increasingly become a problem nonetheless, due in part to PA incitement that leads some to murder Jews with “unbearable ease.”

“There are other parties involved,” Yaalon noted. “Hamas would very much like to see an escalation in terrorism. The Palestinian Islamic Jihad, which is supported by Iran, would very much like an escalation.”

“There could also be developments related to the phenomenon of ‘lone wolf’ attacks that we’ve seen over the past half year,” he warned.

“These attacks don’t come out of nowhere,” Yaalon added. “We don’t see the head of the Palestinian Authority as having interest in creating an escalation, but the Palestinian media, and his rhetoric, definitely create incitement and lead individuals to carry out attacks.”

“[We see] the unbearable ease of murdering a Jew in what started as a criminal incident. Like in Brosh, when Sariya Ofer was murdered, or the two [Palestinian men] who went to steal a weapon in Psagot and met a nine-year-old girl. The unbearable ease of stabbing a nine-year-old girl,” he said.

According to Yaalon, despite the latest attacks Israel remains interested in continuing negotiations with the PA. Currently, Israel’s leaders want to extend negotiations to allow for progress, he said.

“It’s obvious that there are big differences between the sides, that’s not new. But we are definitely interested in continuing negotiations and working to stabilize the situation,” he explained.

“The heart of the conflict is their unwillingness to recognize our right to an agreement as the national state of the Jewish people, in any borders,” he added.