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News and views on Israel, Zionism and the war on terrorism.

February 13, 2003

Cycle of violence.

For a while Daniel Pipes has been predicting that if Israel held firm it would eventually win the war against the PA. Maybe this is overly optimistic but according to "Analysis / IDF reverses suicide bombers' success-failure ratio" by Amos Harel in Ha'aretz, there is evidence that that Israel's refusal to give in is starting to make a difference. In addition the PA is starting to realize that it has something to lose:
Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz made one recent comment which attracted little attention in Israel but the Palestinians noted it very carefully. He said in interview with Israel Radio that if the Kassam rocket fire from Gaza continued, Israel would consider reoccupying the Gaza Strip. Although an invasion is far from happening - and the wisdom of it is hotly disputed within the IDF - yet this was no slip of the tongue.

"The Palestinians are developing a real fear of losing the Strip," a senior General Staff officer told Haaretz. "Mofaz made them made them worry that what has already happened in the West Bank will happen in Gaza as well. So far the PA has succeeded in retaining relative control in Gaza. Its senior officials have much to lose if their reign there collapses."

The Palestinians are very aware of something that most Israelis have barely noticed - before the outbreak of the Intifada in September 2000, Gaza was a Palestinian "sea" with a few "islands" of settlements, but is now a collection of isolated Palestinian enclaves surrounded by wide "corridors" controlled by the IDF. They also understand that IDF operations to stop the rocket fire, such as those now being conducted around Beit Hanun, could easily be transformed into a permanent IDF presence in these areas.
Is this a decisive reversal? Maybe, maybe not. But it has brought about some change in the rhetoric of the leaders of the PA. According to MEMRI "Palestinian Leaders: Our Strategy Brought Sharon Victory." Granted many of the comments are self serving and they show little remorse except to the degree that the violence against Israel hurt the Palestinian cause. But a lot of the bluster is gone. (Though perhaps it persists in other comments.) Here too we have a leader of the PA saying that he rejects suicide bombings. Of course the interview is self serving and not a single tough question is asked. I particularly liked this:
Doesn’t it make you laugh when the side that loses 4,000 is [said to be] the aggressor and the one that did the killing is not responsible? The Palestinians didn’t choose armed struggle. During the first month after Sharon went to al-Aqsa [a visit to a holy Muslim site in Jerusalem that is widely blamed for restarting the intifada] Israel killed 107 and two Israelis died. Yet there were no suicide attacks....I believe the Israeli army killed [Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak] Rabin because they were against a peace treaty; they want a security treaty, not a peace treaty. Mofaz wants to stay in the West Bank while the Palestinian security should work under Israeli domination. That’s why [the Israelis] escalated [the conflict.]
Of course no one (in the West) argues that NATO was the aggressor against Serbia just because Serbia suffered more losses than NATO. Also, the notes here show a bias. Why doesn't the editor acknowledge that there was evidence that the PA was planning the renewed violence for months? Finally, the conspiracy theory here is incredible and the interviewer doesn't follow it up with, "What's your evidence?" Still, at least the PA is acknowledging that they have to take action to prevent violence against Israel. Even if they're insincere about it. If they take action and fewer innocents are killed that is a start.
Cross Posted to David's Israel Blog.