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March 25, 1988 - Image 22

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1988-03-25

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erusalem — The death
of a 28-year-old Israeli
reserve soldier in the
West Bank town of Bethle-
hem last Sunday was received
with a thud of sickening
Sergeant Moshe Katz was
not the first soldier to be
killed on active service in the
Israeli Army. He was, how-
ever, the first Israeli to be
killed since the start of the
Palestinian uprising on De-
cember 9.
It was, to be sure, some-
thing of a miracle that no
Israeli soldiers — or civilians,
for that matter — had been
killed in the violence that has
spasmodically convulsed the
West Bank (or Judea and
Samaria), the Gaza Strip and
the rest of Israel for the past
15 weeks.
Up to now, officials in
Jerusalem insisted that the
lack of Israeli fatalities was
no mere miracle; nor was it a
consequence of Palestinian
sensitivity to Jewish blood.
Rather, according to conven-
tional wisdom, it was an in-
tegral part of the Palestinian
strategic concept.
Firstly, said the Israeli com-
mentators, the Palestinians
deliberately chose to cultivate
the image of David — com-
plete with slingshot —
against Goliath. By taking up
arms and killing Israelis, it
was reasoned, they would
forfeit their most valued
prize: the sympathy and sup-
port of millions of television
viewers aound the world who
had been captivated by their
piteous plight.
Secondly, the commentators
said, the Palestinians knew
that once they resorted to
arms, they would be playing
the Israeli Army at its own
game, and in•a straight fight
against well-equipped, highly
trained troops, they would
sustain a massive defeat.
According to one Israeli
military source, it is known
that there are "substantial
quantities of weapons" in
Palestinian hands. What is
not known is whether the
group leading the uprising —
an amalgam of the various
Palestinian factions plus the
Islamic fundamentalists — is
about to call on the people to
unsheath their weapons.
Such a move could produce
cataclysmic consequences.
This week, the Palestinian
death toll topped the 100-
mark, and if they now opt to


An Israeli soldier after being hit
by a rock.


bring their guns and
grenades out of storage, their
casualty figures can be ex-
pected to climb dramatically.
But the Palestinians have
also shown that they are
marching to a drumbeat of
their own; one that cannot
necessarily be heard clearly
by the Israeli experts and
academics who so often and so
confidently predict their
moves and motives.
The killing of Sergeant
Katz was neither incidental
nor accidental. It was not the
result of one of the thousands
of rocks or petrol bombs that
have been hurled at Israeli
soldiers and civilians.
The gunman approached
Katz, drew his pistol and,
with deliberate care, fired two
bullets at close range into the
back of his victim's head. The
medium was the message: the
act bore the classical hall-
marks of a well-planned
political execution.
The nature of the killing
gave many Israelis the oppor-
tunity to peer over the abyss
and confront their darkest
fears about where all the
violence was leading; about
an escalation of hostilities to
dangerous, perhaps unman-
ageable, new levels.
Most particularly, some
Israelis dread that they might
have experienced their first
taste of the kind of savage,
draining conflict they
thought they had left behind
in Lebanon.
Israel's military leaders do
not believe that the Palestin-
ians have yet moved to the
stage of an all-out armed
struggle. They may be right,
but their judgment has been
seriously flawed since the
start of the uprising.
Whether or not this is the
armed struggle which some
Palestinian leaders abroad
have been warning of and
others openly encouraging,

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