ישראל נאמן | Lectures, Articles, Tours: Israel | Mideast onTarget | Elliot Chodoff & Yisrael Ne'eman | A Major Round Against Terrorism Sooner Than Expected

A Major Round Against Terrorism Sooner Than Expected

06 September 2003

By Yisrael Ne’eman

It was not particularly a good weekend in Israel.  Not only did the national basketball team lose to Germany and get wiped out by Lithuania (a difference of close to 30 points) but the soccer team lost to Slovenia 3 –1.   By late afternoon the air force rocketed the Hamas leadership in an attempt to kill master terrorist and “spiritual leader” Sheikh Ahmed Yassin.  The wheelchair bound Yassin is at the top of the terror pyramid, planning and directing bombing activities against Israel’s civilian population.  Unfortunately a quarter ton explosive was dropped on a three story building, allowing the ten conspirators on the first floor to get away with minor injuries.  It was a weekend most would prefer to forget.

The decision to kill every Hamas activist with no exceptions was taken the day of the Jerusalem #2 bus bombing over two weeks ago.  Why a one-ton bomb was not used to ensure the death of the Hamas leadership is now the big question.  The official answer given is to cut back on possible civilian casualties.  Possibly.

In response the Hamas put out the word for all its operatives to kill as many Israelis as possible, immediately.  Even before the rocket attack there were 36 immediate terror warnings.  One can expect the number to go up, the question being “By how much and in what level of preparedness?”

Israel’s attack on Yassin & Co. may be a final warning to all the terror organizations and Yasir Arafat’s Palestinian Authority that Israel will now take out anyone engaged in terror.  Arafat himself had an eventful weekend as he accepted his prime minister’s resignation.  PM Mahmoud Abbas is involved in a bitter struggle with Chairman Arafat (as mentioned in this column over the past two weeks).  Despite US threats against Arafat should Abbas be forced to resign, he did and the resignation was not turned down.  Discussion of Arafat’s expulsion is once again burning up time at Israeli cabinet meetings.

And let’s not forget the landmark decision taken by the European Union just hours before the attack to declare all Hamas a terror organization, from its operatives to its supposed political representatives to its bank accounts (which are now frozen).  Arafat should take note.

A technical, yet major coalition issue is also brewing.  MK Uri Ariel (of the far right wing National Union party and coalition partner), chairman of a security sub-committee is refusing to allow payment to contractors building the security fence between Israel and the Palestinians.  Ideologically opposed to the establishment of the fence and in favor of the full annexation of all Palestinian territories, Ariel publicly calls the fence “the Bar Lev Line” a reference to Israel’s poorly maintained defensive wall on the Suez Canal which was breached by the Egyptians at the outset of the Yom Kippur War in 1973.  Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin, to circumvent the impending political clash in the government has demanded Ariel appoint a replacement when he goes abroad shortly.  The replacement will issue the payments, the fence will continue being built and Ariel will come back to a fait accompli.

Rocketing Yassin and the Hamas is also a warning to the far right coalition factions, the National Union and the National Religious Party.  The population expects the security fence to go up without delay as the next round against terrorism is expected to be decisive.  Israel’s defenses must be in place as much as possible or those who voted Sharon and the Likud may look elsewhere.  Peres and the Labor party wait in the wings for Sharon’s call should the right-wingers pull out and if not, then certainly to make a comeback should the citizenry feel exposed to terrorism.

It is all about to erupt again, but no one knows with how much intensity or what the outcome will be.  Israel is aiming to smash the terrorist organizations and dump Arafat.  The Hamas and Arafat are intensifying efforts to organize a major terror campaign (although the terror never stopped).

And Israelis thought the major headlines in today’s papers would lament just how lousy we play basketball and soccer.  Such are the illusions of normalcy being just around the corner.