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How Israeli police solved a case of suspected 'terrorism' in record time

An initial police report on an attempted stabbing in the West Bank uses the word ‘terrorist’ to describe the suspect. Only when it transpires that the would-be attacker is Jewish does the word ‘terrorist’ vanish.

Israeli riot police run during clashes in the Shuafat neighborhood of East Jerusalem, October 5, 2015. (Faiz Abu Rmeleh/

Israeli riot police run during clashes in the Shuafat neighborhood of East Jerusalem, October 5, 2015. (Faiz Abu Rmeleh/

It’s amazing to watch terminology change in realtime.

At 4.19 p.m. on Tuesday, the Israel Police released a statement saying that a “suspected terrorist,” who they claimed had tried to stab a soldier at the Hizma checkpoint in the West Bank, had been “neutralized” and was in serious condition.

Eight minutes later, the following update came out: “After an initial assessment, the suspect appears to be a youth (Jewish), and not Palestinian!”

Take note that the word “Jewish” is in brackets, perhaps because as soon as we refer to someone who was shot at a checkpoint as a “youth,” it’s clear that he’s not a “terrorist.” In a further statement, the police spokesperson variously referred to a “person” or a “young man” who charged at security forces with a knife. The last report from the police (for the time being) described him as “the young male suspect who had been neutralized.”

Just to compare, pretty much every police spokesperson report on a Palestinian suspected of attempting an attack on soldiers is immediately referred to as a “terrorist.”

The Israeli media also quickly retracted the term “terrorist.” John Brown, an Israeli blogger, showed just how quickly Channel 10’s tweets switched from referring to an “attempted terror attack” and a “terrorist” to an “incident” and “a person who was shot,” who had potentially “tried to commit suicide.”

Ma’ariv, meanwhile, tweeted: “The neutralized ‘terrorist’ is Jewish.” Other media outlets started reporting the possibility that the man who drew a knife was mentally unstable or was trying to commit suicide — something which is very rarely, if at all, checked as quickly when the person who’s been shot is Palestinian (despite the fact that numerous Palestinians who have drawn a knife have turned out to have been trying to take their own lives).

This post was originally published in Hebrew on Local Call.

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