You wouldn’t know it from consuming American media, for whom any mention of the Jewish state as anything but an aggressor is an inconvenience, but the sort of ramming attack we’ve witnessed yesterday afternoon in lower Manhattan was first used against Israelis by Palestinian terrorists.
The very first such attack, according to most available records, occurred on Feburary 18, 1987, when an IDF force was patrolling the Askar refugee camp, just east of Nablus. At around 9:30 a.m., as the soldiers were approaching a school, a Mercedes driven by a Palestinian named Samir Ibrahim Harisha took a sharp turn, plowing into the group. One soldier, Nir Bitan, was tossed in the air and sustained a severe injury. He lay unconscious in his hospital bed for more than a year before succumbing. Another soldier was wounded in the attack.
Less than two years later, on November 30, 1989, Avigdor Dahari, a father of six who operated a food stand just outside of the Gaza Strip, was closing up shop for a day. A hungry soldier approached him and asked for a quick sandwich, and Dahari was glad to abide. As he was preparing the food, however, a car driven by a Palestinian terrorist came careening down the road, hitting Dahari in the head and killing him on the spot.
Ramming attacks remained popular with Palestinian terrorists throughout the last two decades, with perpetrators opting for larger vehicles, like trucks or buses, to maximize casualties. A 2001 attack left eight Israelis dead and 21 wounded, and another in 2008 killed three and wounded 36.
Palestinian websites and social media channels, including some associated with Hamas and the PLO, have been celebrating ramming attacks for years. PLO’s Facebook page, for example, shared a post labeling itself as Daes, the Arabic word for “run over with a car” and a play of word on Daesh, the Arabic acronym for ISIS. Another post shared by the PLO featured a popular song called “Run over, run over, dear friend, run over the foreign settler.”
Israelis have been dealing with such terrors for years. Sadly, now the rest of the world does, too.
Liel Leibovitz is editor at large for Tablet Magazine and a host of its weekly culture podcast Unorthodox and daily Talmud podcast Take One. He is the editor of Zionism: The Tablet Guide.