TEL AVIV – A poll found that a majority of Israelis believe “the security situation is more serious today compared to the Second Intifada,” Media Line reported.
Half a year after the onset of a wave of Palestinian knife attacks, shootings, and car-rammings against Israelis, a new survey conducted by the Smith Polling Institute found that 51 percent of Israelis think the situation is more serious today than the wave of suicide bombings that struck during the first half of the last decade.
A further 53 percent of the 500 respondents said they felt their personal security had declined in the last few years.
The survey was released ahead of the Israel Security Conference set to take place on April 12. The confab will bring together representatives from the private security sector and official institutions such as the police, intelligence agencies, and the Ministry of the Interior.
“Now it’s the Third Intifada and it is the worst one (of the three),” Galit, a shop worker on Jaffa Road, Jerusalem’s main thoroughfare, said to the Media Line.
“With the (suicide) bombings it was one at a time – one every two, three, four months. The stabbings happen every day,” she added.
The Second Intifada, which was marked by frequent suicide bombings in cafes and buses, lasted from 2000 to 2005 and was responsible for the deaths of an estimated 3,000 Palestinians and 1,000 Israelis. Dan Levi, a young Jerusalemite, holds that the Second Intifada was more frightening. “The Second Intifada was serious. I was a teenager and I knew people who died. Buses were exploding, it was really scary,” he said.
“An indifferent reaction cannot be expected from the Israeli public when the level of risk to the citizens has increased significantly,” Pini Schiff, CEO of the National Association of Security Companies, said in a statement released with the results of the poll.
56 percent of respondents said that they “refrained from travelling on public transportation and/or entering crowded public places” these days.
The role of security guards and armed civilians as a counter-measure to the “lone wolf” attacks will be discussed at the security conference. “If you look at what’s happened in the last six, seven months, most of these terror attacks were stopped by (armed) civilians,” Irad Gil, CEO of the security firm HSMT, said.
The Knesset passed a law last week that will allow all security personnel to take their weapons home at the end of a shift. “This means an extra 50,000 weapons [will be] on the streets every day,” Gil said.
According to the poll, 69 percent of Israelis said they felt “that a civilian carrying a weapon in a public place largely contributes to a sense of personal security.”
Since mid-September, 34 Israelis have been killed in attacks by Palestinians. In this time period there have been 211 stabbings, 83 shootings, and 42 vehicular attacks. Around 200 Palestinians were killed by Israelis over the same period, 130 of whom were said by Israel to have been conducting an attack at the time of their deaths. The remaining 70 died in clashes with Israeli security forces or Jewish residents of the West Bank.