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Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Relying on 'luck'

In an editorial entitled "Before our 'luck' runs out," this morning's Jerusalem Post asks the right question but comes up with the wrong answer about what really needs to be done about the Kassams falling on the Negev every day.

The editorial asks the right question:

Since the withdrawal from Gaza last summer, whether as a result of extreme luck or divine providence, none of these attacks has directly killed Israelis. Everyone knows, however, that if one of the rockets happens to hit a home, school or car and to kill some of our citizens, Israel will have to respond in a way that it is not doing now.

This situation raises a burning question: Is it moral or wise to wait until civilians are killed before taking further action to stop these terrorist attacks?

But the answer - which should be a simple "no" - leaves much to be desired:
Whether this or that part of the PA is incapable or unwilling to stop attacks from the territory it controls should not be relevant to Israel or the international community: the PA as a whole must be held responsible. Ehud Olmert, set soon to meet with Abbas himself, will surely want to convey that message.

Under Ehud Barak, Israel destroyed generating stations outside Beirut in response to Hizbullah attacks. Ariel Sharon laid siege to Yasser Arafat's headquarters in Ramallah. Similarly, now, additional methods must be examined to make the PA accountable and to counter the Kassam attacks - methods that, unlike the Palestinian rocket fire, minimize the risk to civilian lives.

In parallel, Israel should seek UN Security Council condemnation of all the attacks on our territory, whether from Iran's and Syria's puppet in Lebanon or from Palestinian areas, and affirmation of our own right to self-defense. The chances of success in that forum are slim. But Israel should not let the international community off the hook - and display a lack of minimal self-respect - by not even bothering to ask.

An evaluation of the 'Palestinian Authority' and its leadership shows that there is no one willing to take action against terrorism. Holding the PA itself "accountable" is a joke: attempts to hold the PA accountable for electing a terrorist organization by cutting off funding have resulted in the 'quartet' - particularly the Europeans - tripping over themselves to find ways to fund the 'Palestinian Authority' while maintaining the sham that they are not dealing with Hamas.

To see why it's useless to try to hold the PA 'accountable,' let's look at the reactions to the most recent suicide bombing, the April 17 Tel Aviv suicide bombing that murdered eleven people, including American teenager Daniel Wultz. The Hamas-led 'Palestinian Authority' lauded the attack, while Mahmoud Abbas Abu Mazen, the 'moderate' 'Palestinian President' had no moral problems with the attack, but felt that it was against the 'Palestinians' interest. Additionally, Hamas condones terrorism (and as of Tuesday it is once again participating in terror attacks), while Abu Mazen has told us on many occasions that he cannot and will not fight terrorism because he will not 'divide the Palestinian people.' So just how is Israel to hold the 'Palestinian Authority' accountable?

As to turning to the United Nations for assistance, that would be a farce nearly as big as expecting the 'Palestinian Authority' to take action. The UN is one of the most anti-Israel organizations in the world - US Ambassador John Bolton's efforts to change it notwithstanding. How is Israel to seek help from an organization that displays maps that don't show the State of Israel as part of its annual day of solidarity with the 'Palestinian people'?

So what do I suggest doing? First, in the final analysis I believe that Yuval Diskin is correct that the only way to stop the Kassam fire is to turn Beit Hanoun (and probably Beit Lahiya as well) into a ghost town. While I would not target civilians - Jews don't do things like that - I believe that the 'Palestinians' have to be held to the provisions of the Geneva Convention that govern warfare in the rest of the world.

The Geneva Convention seeks "to deter un-uniformed soldiers from hiding among the civilian population — a practice that obviously makes it impossible for an attacking army to distinguish between legitimate targets and noncombatants. In other words, the Geneva Convention seeks to protect innocent civilians by keeping soldiers in uniform, and by defining those combatants who don't wear uniforms as being outside the rules of warfare and undeserving of the privileges afforded to legitimate prisoners of war." The "Fourth Geneva Convention Relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War" states that "The presence of a protected person may not be used to render certain points or areas immune from military operations." That's directed exactly at the Palestinian terrorists: they are hiding among the (often compliant) civilian population so as to make themselves immune from Israeli retaliation. Israel has to start worrying less about the presence of Palestinian civilians and worry more about protecting its own civilians.

Israel must continue to aggressively pursue terrorists even if they are hiding among the civilian population. If that means that there is collateral damage and that civilians are killed, that is not Israel's responsibility - it's the terrorists' responsibility. Better their civilians be killed in collateral actions than our civilians be targeted.

Sounds too tough? Well, we don't have to go to that policy right away, although we need to make it very clear to the 'Palestinian Authority' that they had better get their act together, because that's where things are heading. In the interim, and as long as the Kassams do no serious damage, I would take advantage of something Israel does control in Gaza: the electric and water supplies. Every time a Kassam is shot, I would shut off the electricity and the water to Gaza for an hour immediately. Six Kassams were shot yesterday - let them feel the discomfort of six hours with no electricity or water on one of the hottest days of the year. It's absurd that during the electricity shortages earlier this week, power to Gaza was uninterrupted, while Sderot's electric-powered Kassam early warning system was shut down until the Mayor called the Electric Company to complain.

The 'Palestinian Authority' will do nothing to protect Israeli citizens whether it is represented by Hamas or by Abu Mazen. The United Nations will do nothing to protect Israeli citizens. Therefore, Israel must do all it can to protect Israeli citizens, and trust in God to do the rest. We need to start moving before our 'luck' runs out.


At 9:12 AM, Blogger Red Tulips said...

I completely agree with everything you wrote in this post. You really make a ton of sense. Speaking to my anti-Israeli friends, I find they are filled with media-infused ignorance about the situation. The lies perpetuated by the media really shock the conscience, so thank you for your blog and getting out the truth.

At 4:12 PM, Blogger yehu ben zohar said...

It would appear that Hamas, Islamic Jihad actually have uniforms, the hoods, bandanas and other identifying clothing. It should be regular practice to target these uniformed masked gunmen whenever they appear in groups of two or more. They are easy to spot and should be killed whenever they show their hooded and masked faces. After a few of these hits, they may decide to be less conspicuous.


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