The Psychology Behind Terrorism
The object of terrorism is not to destroy the enemy but to accomplish political objectives. The Palestinians are interested in bringing Israel to illegitimate responses that result in harming civilians, thus achieving international intervention. The winner of this battle will be the one who holds up the longest.
Terror is a form of combat based on psychological impact, and its goal is to affect governmental decisions. Terror never attempts winning by physical defeat or destroying the enemy.
In comparison to conventional warfare, the number of casualties in a terror-based battle is relatively minor. For instance, the amount of Israeli casualties in the past eight months of combat is a few dozens, significantly less than the number of casualties on one day of combat in the Yom Kippur War. This example illustrates the fact that the effect of terror as a form of combat is primarily psychological.
Terror in its current status has two aims. The main Palestinian objective is to bring Israel to illegitimate military responses that will hurt Palestinian civilians. Then, they will shout “Help” , trying to bring about international intervention (UN) and enforcement of a resolution by the only body with such a mandate: The UN Security Council.
This sort of intervention, as far as the Palestinian perception goes, will undermine Israel’s military and economic superiority. It will tie Israel down and dictate a political solution that will be inconvenient to Israel. In closed caption: In the international political arena, the most important thing for Israel is the American public opinion, which will affect the way of response while taking into consideration what is viewed as legitimate and what is not.
Terror’s second objective is undermining Israel’s public moral. The Palestinians believe that by creating the sense that there is no way to deal with violence, the Israeli public will be willing to settle for the Palestinian political demands.
The bottom line of these two objectives is the attempt to affect two ends in the Israeli public: The end that demands a radical response while ignoring the political repercussions, and the weak end, willing to settle even on principle political issues out of fear of terror.
In conclusion, it’s safe to say on the subject of terror that there is no better teacher than time. Hence, terror since its eruption has never accomplished any goal, aside from at best, a few objectives along the way. But as opposed to civil negotiation, even this means to an end meant losing direction even without mentioning casualties on both sides, whose sacrifice could have been prevented through premeditated efforts in establishing a stand and with a real broad base and negotiation tools as a means to an end.