Blade of jihad: Extremists embrace the knife as tool of terror

The knife has replaced suicide bombings, car attacks and random shootings as the new tool of choice for waging jihad on Israel, with leaders blatantly calling for Palestinians young and old to take up the kitchen implement and kill.

While cars careening into crowds was the trend in terror last year-- with hit songs in Gaza and the West Bank praising "martyrs" behind the wheel-- this year Hamas and Palestinian Authority leaders, clerics and newspaper editors are openly encouraging stabbings that have so far killed a dozen and wounded 167 since Oct. 1. Through sermons, social media, online blogs, editorial cartoons and TV and radio reports, the message seems to be that anyone can pick up a knife and advance the cause.

“Restrain the victim while others attack him with axes and butcher knives," influential Sheikh Muhammad Salakh recently preached as he brandished a knife in a sermon that was widely viewed within the territories. "Do not fear what will be said about you. Oh men of the West Bank, next time, attack in a group of three, four, or five. Attack them in groups. Cut them into body parts.”

The attackers are hailed as brave heroes, with a youth soccer tournament named for Muhannad Halabi, who murdered two Israelis, wounding the wife and two-year-old son of one in a stabbing in Jerusalem in early October. Some terrorists, killed by Israeli security forces and police either during or in the immediate aftermath of their attacks, are revered as shahids (martyrs) and have had streets and squares named in their honor. The bloody toll to date includes a dozen dead and at least 19 seriously wounded in 59 separate stabbing attacks, mainly in Jerusalem.

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