When two Palestinian terrorists opened fire last week at Tel Aviv's Sarona market and murdered four Israelis, it appeared to catch much of the country off guard. After several months of seemingly sporadic attacks, many people had begun to think that the whirlwind of Palestinian violence had largely subsided.
But nothing could be further from the truth.
The sad fact is that Palestinian terrorism is literally a daily – and sometimes even an hourly – occurrence. It is just that the media doesn't bother to report the overwhelming majority of incidents, thereby providing the public with a distorted view of reality.
Just speak to some of the 700 brave volunteers of Hatzalah Judea and Samaria (www.hatzalah.org.il), a superb emergency first-response organization consisting of professionally trained medics, paramedics and licensed physicians who find themselves working around the clock to assist the victims of Palestinian terrorism. The organization is independent of United Hatzalah of Israel.
According to a spokesman for the group, "there are an average of 10 to 15 reported Palestinian rock and firebomb attacks throughout Judea and Samaria on a daily basis," or approximately one attack every two hours.
And those are just the ones reported to authorities, the spokesman noted, adding that, "There are certainly other incidents in which the terrorists miss their mark, or hit a car but fail to cause damage or injure the occupants, and the motorist doesn't bother to call it in."
Moreover, even the method employed for counting incidents that are reported is imprecise. After all, if terrorists hurl rocks and other projectiles at five or 10 vehicles in one area at any given time, then the security forces count this as one attack rather than several.
And yet, despite the daily Palestinian onslaught against Israelis on the roads of Judea and Samaria, the mainstream media both in Israel and abroad is virtually silent, with nary a peep of coverage finding its way into the press.
Nonetheless, throwing stones or other objects at a car full of innocent people is terrorism, not just hooliganism.
My friend Josh Hasten, a veteran radio host and long-time pro-Israel advocate, has twice experienced this firsthand in recent months.
Back in October, Hasten was nearly lynched when a group of Palestinian Arabs armed with rocks and slabs of concrete charged his car as he was driving near Tekoa, south of Jerusalem. And last month, his windshield took a direct hit from a Palestinian stone-thrower near the Gush Etzion Industrial Zone.
"The ongoing danger is simply being whitewashed," Hasten told me. "While statistically, the number of 'major attacks' is down, the reality on the ground is unacceptable. Driving on the roads these days often feels like playing Russian roulette," he said.
It is time for Israel to stop ignoring or minimizing Palestinian stone-throwing and to start taking more drastic measures to punish perpetrators and curtail the violence.
Don't forget: each time a Palestinian reaches down to pick up a rock and hurl it an Israeli vehicle, he is making a choice. He is consciously deciding to heave a potentially lethal object through the air with the aim of causing physical harm.
This is not a matter of bored Palestinian teenagers expressing their perceived frustrations. For that, they can turn to Facebook or Twitter or countless other nonviolent outlets and vent all they wish. Palestinian stone-throwers are cowardly thugs who are intentionally endangering innocent Israelis and attempting to frighten them off the roads.
It shouldn't need to be repeated but apparently it must: stones can and do kill.
Last September, 64-year-old Alexander Levlovitz was murdered on the first night of Rosh Hashana by Palestinians throwing rocks in the southern Jerusalem neighborhood of Armon Hanatziv. Police determined that Levlovitz lost control of his vehicle after it had been struck by stones and hit an electricity pole, resulting in his death.
And three years ago, in March 2013, two-year-old Adele Biton was mortally wounded when a truck that was stoned by Palestinians on Route 5 swerved out of control and hit the car she was in, crushing it underneath.
The girl's mother and two sisters, aged six and four, were all moderately wounded, but Adele suffered a grave blow to the head. She valiantly clung to life for two years before succumbing to her injuries.
While the government took a number of steps last fall to crack down on Palestinian stone-throwers, and the IDF presence on the roads of Judea and Samaria has been beefed up, there is still a need for stronger deterrent measures to be taken.
And the media needs to start telling us the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, and inform the public regarding the frequency and extent of the attacks being carried against Israelis each and every day.
Remember: just because we don't hear about it does not mean that Palestinian terrorism doesn't exist. And we should not continue to pretend otherwise.