Skip to comments.The Road to War in the Mideast
Posted on 04/04/2002 11:16:31 AM PST by thatcherEdited on 04/13/2004 2:07:39 AM PDT by Jim Robinson. [history]
YOU CANNOT make sense of the Israeli-Palestinian war without first making sense of 1993.
That year found Israel in reasonably good shape. Its economy was the most powerful in the Middle East. Its military power was respected and feared. Its enemies in the Arab and Muslim world, which for so long had dreamed of wiping Israel off the map, were at last coming to accept that the Jewish state was here to stay. To be sure, Yasser Arafat and his Palestine Liberation Organization still plotted to ''liberate'' Israel from the Jews, but they were in exile in Tunisia and their political and moral capital were close to nil.
(Excerpt) Read more at boston.com ...
Sharon had addressed the problem correctly, and driven the PLO out.
The only fault I can find with Sharon's actions is not killing Arafat.
Operatives should have been assigned the task of hunting Arafat down in Tunisia or wherever he could be found, and executing him.
Instead, Israel entered into a pact with the Devil himself, and have been paying the price ever since.
There is still time to correct the problem.
Get rid of Arafat. Get rid of the PA, get rid of the palestinians.
The West Bank and Gaza are NOT "occupied lands", they are Israeli lands.
The "palestinians" HAVE a homeland.
It is called Jordan.
I say to all Arabs calling themselves palestinian.
Go to Your homeland, Jordan. Never Return to Israel.
April 4, 2002
Bombers Gloating in Gaza as They See Goal Within Reach: No More Israel
By JOEL BRINKLEY
GAZA, April 3 The leaders of Hamas, the militant Islamic movement responsible for the most deadly suicide attacks in Israel in the last week, are pleased and satisfied just now.
"Our spirit is high, our mood is good," said Ismail Abu Shanab, one of the organization's leaders.
If Israel attacks Gaza, as it has areas of the West Bank, he and the other leaders would likely be principal targets. For now, they live and operate here openly.
By their estimation, the organization's two recent attacks the one at a Seder on Passover night in a Netanya hotel that killed 25 people, and the other in a Haifa cafe that killed 15 were the most successful they have ever made. That is true partly, Mr. Shanab said, because Hamas is now using weapons-grade explosives instead of home made bombs manufactured using fertilizer, a fact the Israelis have confirmed.
"Forty were killed and 200 injured in just two operations," another of the leaders, Mahmoud al-Zahar, said with a smile.
What's more, Hamas believes that the Palestinian Authority has given up on negotiating with Israel, negotiations that Hamas virulently opposed. That has led to a budding alliance between Hamas and Fatah, the organization headed by Yasir Arafat, the Palestinian leader, despite years of bitter and sometimes violent feuding.
Mr. Arafat "is Palestinian and I am Palestinian," said Sheik Ahmed Yassin, the spiritual leader of Hamas. "We have the same problem now. Israel is our enemy."
Sammy Abu Samhadanah, a Fatah commander here, said Hamas was carrying out attacks "because they did not want a peace agreement.
"But now," he added, "we have a common enemy."
Hamas, the second most popular Palestinian movement, behind Fatah, is directed by a "steering committee," as Dr. Zahar put it, with five principal members. Interviews with four of them a cleric, an engineer and two medical doctors showed a leadership unyielding, determined and increasingly confident of achieving their goal, the eradication of Israel as a Jewish state.
They are almost welcoming of the Israeli attacks in the West Bank because they believe that the military campaign will generate more recruits for Hamas. Already, the leaders say, they have more than enough recruits for suicide attacks.
The political leaders, as they call themselves, are obviously prosperous and live in large, comfortable homes here in Gaza City with big families. The exception is Sheik Yassin, who uses a wheelchair and lives in a compound in the slums of the city with guards, assistants and office workers. Dr. Zahar, a surgeon, has a table tennis set in his vast living room, for his seven children. All of them offer their opinions in calm, cheerful tones suggesting that they view their positions as unremarkable.
The leaders insist that they are not involved in directing specific attacks. But they say they do decide when their followers should attack and when they should back off. Last fall, just after Sept. 11, the steering committee decided that "our resistance in Israel might be confused with what was happened in the U.S.," said Mr. Abu Shanab, the engineer. So the suicide bombing and other attacks were stopped.
"It lasted three weeks," said Abdel Aziz Rantisi, the fourth leader. But then after a particularly bloody day in Gaza during which Israelis killed several Palestinians, Dr. Rantisi added, the attacks resumed. On Oct. 3, gunmen burst into an Israeli settlement in Gaza, Alei Sinai, where they shot and killed a young couple and wounded 15 others. Hamas took responsibility.
Dr. Rantisi, who appears in public more often than any of the others, said that, to generate attacks, he makes public statements that are heard by his followers, as he did recently when he said in a television interview: "The gates of resistance are open totally." Those statements are heard by Hamas's military wing, he says, "and they listen because we are the political leaders."
Some analysts here suggest that the leaders' roles are actually more direct. During the 45-minute interview in Sheik Yassin's compound, for example, aides twice brought him urgent news about developments in Ramallah, and he issued clear, direct orders.
The goals of Hamas are straightforward. As Sheik Yassin put it, "our equation does not focus on a cease-fire; our equation focuses on an end to the occupation." By that he means an end to the Jewish occupation of historical Palestine.
Hamas wants Israeli withdrawal from all of the West Bank and Gaza, the dismantling of all Israeli settlements and full right of return for the four million Palestinians who live in other states. After that, the Jews could remain, living "in an Islamic state with Islamic law," Dr. Zahar said. "From our ideological point of view, it is not allowed to recognize that Israel controls one square meter of historic Palestine."
Mr. Shenab insisted that he was not joking when he said, "There are a lot of open areas in the United States that could absorb the Jews."
The Hamas leaders are clearly enamored of the suicide attacks carried out by their followers. "It is the most effective strategy for us," said Dr. Rantisi. "For us it is the same as their F-16," the attack fighters used by the Israeli military.
For them, the crowning achievement so far was the attack on Passover eve.
"That was a great success," said Mr. Shenab. "We don't have an army, but we showed that one person can do more than an army and in the middle of a big alert by the Israelis." That night, the Israeli police and the military were on full alert to stop suicide bombers. "That showed that if we suffer, our enemy suffers more," he added.
Sheik Yassin said: "The Palestinian people are not the same as they were in 1967," when Israel captured the West Bank and Gaza, "or during the first intifada," from 1987 to 1991. "At that time nobody knew how to make explosives.
"But now," he added, "everybody knows, and Israel will never be stable again."
On the night of the Passover attack, Dr. Zahar released a statement saying it was intended in part to shut down the cease-fire negotiations then under way, directed by Gen. Anthony C. Zinni, the American special envoy.
In the interview today, Dr. Zahar explained, "the Zinni mission was bad for us" because, under the proposed terms of the cease-fire, groups like Hamas would be disarmed and their leaders arrested.
"Besides," Dr. Rantisi said, "we in Hamas believe peace talks will do no good. We do not believe we can live with the enemy."
The budding alliance with Mr. Arafat's Fatah faction does not mean that Hamas and Fatah will carry out attacks together, just that they will not interfere with each other. In the past, Fatah security officials have occasionally arrested Hamas members at the behest of the Israeli government; Dr. Zahar points to bullet holes in his living room ceiling that were left following one assault by Fatah forces.
"But now," said Mr. Abu Samhadanah, the Fatah commander, "we are not going to arrest them."
Mr. Shanab said: "We disagree with Fatah on the legitimate right of return of our refugees and many other things.
"But for now, we are going to postpone those problems."
Let's face facts: Hamas has more influence on Palestinian actions and policies than Arafat. Arafat is at best an ineffective dolt who can't control the violence, or he's a stooge of groups like Hamas, and he's fully culpable for the violence. Either way, Arafat is a waste of skin. Considering the mindset of these animals, I think Israel has been too patient in dealing with them.