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Gaza Boils

08 October 2002

By Yisrael Ne’eman

Not all attempts at catching terrorists succeed.   More fail than are reported or than meet the eye.  Early Monday morning Israeli troops entered Khan Yunis in the Gaza Strip and did not succeed in capturing terrorists hiding out in a heavily populated neighborhood.  When withdrawing armed Palestinians fired on the troops and in return fire and a helicopter launched rocket, 14 Palestinians were killed, most armed, but some civilians as well.

Former Chief of Staff Dan Shomron was interviewed on Israel’s Channel One to explain the ‘failure’ but although he did not consider this particular action as successful in attaining its immediate goals he did not believe the action failed.  Every week there are dozens of operations to capture or ‘remove’ terrorists, not all succeed.  But as he explained, the constant pressure and unexpectedness of Israeli operations at any time and any place is having a depressing effect not only on the Palestinian terror successes but also on Palestinian morale.  Today one hears more voices than ever in criticism of Yasir Arafat’s decision to initiate his massive wave of violence against Israel over two years ago.  The more offensive action Israel takes against terror, the more one can expect Arafat’s decision to be questioned.

The Hamas and Islamic Jihad suicide bomber tactics are coming in for criticism as well.  A West Bank Palestinian father whose son died as a suicide bomber four months ago had the gall to ask why the Islamic leadership who works so diligently using religious interpretation and commentary in their explanations for the demand for shaheeds (martyrs) was not sending their own sons to die, but only those of the simple folk. 

Palestinian Authority National Security Advisor and local Gaza strongman Mohammed Dahlan is trying to bring order to the Nusseirat refugee camp after a former top Palestinian police official Colonel Rajah Abu Alichiah was kidnapped and murdered by the Hamas.  Battles have ensued between Palestinian police and Hamas supporters leaving at least four killed and 30 wounded as the PA is attempting to apprehend the murderers.  Abu Alichiah was assassinated over accusations of corruption and repression of Hamas activities which endangered PA control in Gaza.

Terrorism emanating from the Gaza Strip is endemic as is factionalism.  Even if they were the majority, Palestinian moderates are outgunned and terrorized.  Dahlan is putting down the Hamas challenge in Gaza for his own interests of power, not in the name of peace, although he could make peace as a matter of ‘realpolitic’. 

Unfortunately, for terrorism to be wiped out in the Gaza Strip, Israel will have to enter in force block by block, building by building, as was done in the West Bank (Judea and Samaria) in the Defensive Shield operation.  Such an operation almost took place several months ago but was cancelled at the last moment.  Israel will do its best to keep casualties down especially among its own soldiers and Palestinian civilians but no matter what will be done, a fair portion of the world will condemn Israel in its efforts against terrorism.

As for the impending operation, it is just a matter of choosing the correct time.