A dangerous liquidation
By Alex Fishman, Yediot Aharonot, Nov.
After raising our hats to the Shabak and the IDF for
the liquidation of Mahmud Abu Hunud, the so-called "No. 1 wanted Hamas
terrorist" - interesting, those who are liquidated are always "No. 1",
does Hamas have no No. 2 or No.3? - we again find ourselves preparing
with dread for a new mass terrorist attack within the Green Line
[Israel's pre-'67 border].
Whoever gave a green light to this act of liquidation
knew full well that he is thereby shattering in one blow the gentleman's
agreement between Hamas and the Palestinian Authority; under that
agreement, Hamas was to avoid in the near future suicide bombings inside
the Green Line, of the kind perpetrated at the Dolphinarium [discotheque
in Tel-Aviv A.K]. Such an agreement did exist, even if neither the
PA nor Hamas would admit it in public. It is a fact that, while the
security services did accumulate repeated warnings of planned Hamas
terrorist attacks within the Green Line, these did not materialize. That
cannot be attributed solely to the Shabak's impressive success in
intercepting the suicide bombers and their controllers.
Rather, the respective leaderships of the PA and Hamas
came to the understanding that it would be better not to play into
Israel's hands by mass attacks on its population centres. This
understanding was, however, shattered by the assassination the day
before yesterday - and whoever decided upon the liquidation of Abu Hunud
knew in advance that that would be the price. The subject was
extensively discussed both by Israel's military echelon and its
political one, before it was decided to carry out the liquidation.
Now, the security bodies assume that Hamas will embark on
a concerted effort to carry out suicide bombings, and preparations are
made accordingly. Even before the expected major terrorist attack takes
place inside the Green Line, we could already see the breaching of the
"fire barriers" which were established after the army's withdrawal from
the West Bank cities, as Hamas responded [to the killing of Abu Hunud]
with a widespread series of attacks.
There is little doubt that Abu-Hunud was an arch-murderer
whose liquidation would damage, at least temporarily, Hamas' operational
capabilities in the Samaria Sector [northern part of the West Bank]. Nor
is it to be doubted that any such liquidation constitutes an impressive
Israeli operational achievement. But does this string of operational
successes serve any political aim, any strategy leading anywhere? Do 20
liquidations or 50 ones make any substantial difference, either in the
campaign against terrorism or on the political arena? Do these
liquidations - successful as they may be - detract even a little from
the motivation of the terrorist organizations? In the fast-widening
"pockets of despair", to be found all over the [occupied] territories,
there is an inexhaustible supply of potential suicide bombers. While in
the past Israel's Military Intelligence tried to keep up a current
numerical estimate of the arsenal of potential suiciders, nowadays the
terrorist organizations have no problem to get as many as they want, and
can even afford to pick and choose among the potential recruits.
The coming act of retribution which is now "in the air"
has gotten complete legitimacy - both in the Palestinian society at
large and in the Palestinian Authority - because of the death of the
five children killed by an IDF explosive charge at Khan Yunes. It was a
tragic accident, and it is inconceivable that anybody in the IDF would
have dared to lay an explosive charge with the conscious knowledge that
it may hurt children. Still, the case of this explosive charge is a
horrifying side-effect of the method of targeted killings, a method
which had become Israel's central instrument of fighting terrorism.
The string of successes has made this method into a daily
routine. The political echelon is constantly pushing the military one to
produce more and more activities of this kind. For example, the number
of "special operations" in the Gaza Strip - i.e., secret penetrations
into the [Palestinian-controlled] "A" area for the purpose of
prevention, arrests, ambushes and liquidations - has arisen by 400% in
the past three months. When this kind of activity becomes a routine, one
might lose sensitivity and caution. That is how an explosive charge can
find its way to a place where children are also to be found.