A Fall In Knife Attacks On Israelis, Amid A Shifting Palestinian Mood : Parallels Seven months after it began, a wave of Palestinian stabbing attacks against Israelis appears to be slowing. Some Palestinian schools say they have been trying to combat the violence.
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A Fall In Knife Attacks On Israelis, Amid A Shifting Palestinian Mood

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A Fall In Knife Attacks On Israelis, Amid A Shifting Palestinian Mood

A Fall In Knife Attacks On Israelis, Amid A Shifting Palestinian Mood

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MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:

Here is an update on a related story. A few months ago, we reported on the street attacks by Palestinians against Israelis. Those attacks continue. But Israeli military officials say the number of attempted attacks has dropped significantly over the past few months, including stabbing attacks by teenagers acting alone. NPR's Emily Harris looks at whether the mood among Palestinians is changing.

EMILY HARRIS, BYLINE: As the number of attacks started to arc downward a couple of months ago, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas went on Israeli television, where he made a remarkable claim.

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "UVDA")

MAHMOUD ABBAS: (Through interpreter) Our security guys go inside schools searching students' bags for knives. We found 70 pupils - boys and girls - carrying knives in one school.

HARRIS: This was remarkable because politically it's very delicate for Abbas to acknowledge his security forces do things that some Palestinians see as follow Israeli orders. Palestinian pollster Ghassan Khatib says Abbas would not have risked talking about searching student bags before.

GHASSAN KHATIB: He wouldn't have said it in the first month because it could have been much more damaging to the public opinion.

HARRIS: Numerous Palestinian officials could not or would not verify Abbas's claim. But there are some accounts of Palestinian police warning students that committing attacks will just get themselves killed. And it's that reasoning, pollster Khatib believes, that's behind recent surveys showing lower support for stabbings.

KHATIB: I think that the public at large is not happy with this phenomenon. It's a waste of souls with little return, if any.

HARRIS: Israeli military officials it's increased arrests that have reduced attacks. We went to check out the mood in a Palestinian high school in a West Bank town called Sa'ir. More than a dozen young men from Sa'ir died during the recent months of heightened violence in clashes with Israeli forces or during attempted attacks.

(SOUNDBITE OF BELL)

HARRIS: Two of those killed were students at this school. Senior Mohammad Frukh, one of several students officials picked to speak with us, was friends with them both.

MOHAMMAD FRUKH: (Through interpreter) The intensity of shock and grief has been very difficult, not only on me but on the whole village. But with activities and coaching from our teachers, I understand now we can face the Israeli occupation through education.

HARRIS: Psychology teacher and counselor Areef Miri has taken students to visit families who lost children. He's run sports tournaments in the deceased students' honor. He's also coached teams at school on how to behave around Israeli soldiers.

ABBAS: (Through interpreter) To protect yourself from getting killed, getting arrested or injured, follow these rules - cross checkpoints in groups, never answer the phone as you're passing, show your hands.

HARRIS: Teachers say what they cannot influence is social media and Palestinian TV. A channel run by the militant group Hamas replays videos of Israeli violence against Palestinians and memorials honoring attackers over and over again.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

UNIDENTIFIED MEN: (Singing in foreign language).

HARRIS: Watching at home in a refugee camp, 22-year-old Palestinian Jihad Khatari gets riled up.

JIHAD KHATARI: (Through interpreter) I get very upset, frustrated, furious. I feel personally inside like I want to go out and do something.

HARRIS: While support for knife attacks has appeared to drop, one recent poll also found more than half of young West Bank Palestinians favored continuing some uprising. They were divided on whether it will intensify and whether it will serve Palestinian interests. Emily Harris, NPR News, Jerusalem.

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