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Waiting It Out After the Bus Bombing

22 October 2002

By Yisrael Ne’eman

Yesterday in another bus bombing 14 were killed and 52 injured.  The bomber never got on the bus since security is fairly tight to ensure passenger safety.  So Palestinian terrorists crashed a car bomb into the bus, almost a foolproof way of insuring a successful terror attack.  Israel’s battle against Palestinian homicide/suicide bombers has entered a stage of despair as the army has clamped down on all Palestinian cities, security forces constantly make arrests and Israel is prevented from taking the final decisive actions against supposed Palestinian political leaders who are themselves terrorists.  Terror attacks will continue, even if at its current reduced pace.  The reasons are as follows:

-          Israel is in a holding pattern until the end of the American activities against Iraq and is not allowed to take any major military action against Palestinian terror until US approval is guaranteed beforehand.

-          Israel has not finished the security fence between the center of the country and the northern West Bank (Samaria).  Government delays are at fault and it will take at least another few months to see results.

-          Islamic terror leaders such as Abdul Aziz Rantisi and Shiekh Ahmed Yasin of the Hamas still associate freely with adherents, encourage terror and praise massacres such as the one yesterday.  Israel is not allowed to touch them for fear of upsetting American plans.

-          Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasir Arafat has made a subtle shift on the internal Palestinian front.  He has begun to shift away from his own PLO and Fatah organizations and moved closer to the Islamicists.  Many in the PA are now demanding a pragmatism in dealing with Israel on the peace front, realizing they have something to gain in the post Iraq period, provided Arafat is forced off center stage.

-          Arafat realizes his survival depends on massive Palestinian violence (which he refused to condemn after yesterday’s attack) and therefore is throwing in his fortunes with the Islamic terrorists.  They are certainly preferable over the growing ‘moderate’ opposition inside the PA.

But Arafat has always been much more of a tactician than a strategist, putting down and outmaneuvering the opposition and playing different sides off against each other.  He may meet his fate along with his newly found Islamic allies once the Americans finish off with Saddam Hussein.  If he is lucky he will be jailed or exiled.

Only then Israel and Palestinian ‘moderates’ will be able to reach and implement agreements.  Unfortunately in the elapsed time it will take, many more innocent lives will be lost.