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December 15, 1989 - Image 40

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1989-12-15

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Israeli police in Abu Tor search a Palestinian passerby's plastic bag.

Journalists Gone, But Numbing
Drumbeat Of Intifada Continues

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40. FRIDAY, DECEMBER 15, 1989


Foreign Correspondent


he hundreds of jour-
nalists who once
fought over rooms at
the American Colony Hotel
in east Jerusalem have
decamped and are now
covering the bigger revolu-
tions that are shaking
Eastern Europe.

The caravan has moved on
and the major datelines now
read Warsaw, Prague and
Berlin; but the intifada, a
numbing drumbeat of hatred
and death, continues.
As the Palestinians mark-
ed the second anniversary of
the start of their uprising
last weekend, Israelis were
left to face the chilling pro-
spect of a protracted period
of violence.
The mass demonstrations
that characterized the first
year of the intifada have
been supplanted by small
gangs of masked youths
—well-organized, hard-core
activists — who pick off their
targets with surgical preci-
Some of the wind might
have gone out of the sails,
but no one is pretending that
the intifada is over. Accor-
ding to current projections,
the uprising will continue,
on a smaller but more in-
tense scale, into the
foreseeable future.
The anniversary also pro-
vided a moment for both
sides to take stock and count

the cost of the uprising that
shattered 20 years of Israeli
complacency and Palesti-
nian submissiveness.
So far, 44 Israelis and
almost 600 Palestinians
have been killed, while at
least 150 more Palestinians,
accused of "collaborating"
with the Israeli authorities,
have been tortured and
murdered by fellow Palesti-
Sixty Palestinians have
been deported, an estimated
40,000 have been through
the Israeli prison system
(some 10,000 are still de-
tained without trial), while
countless thousands of limbs
have been broken in the
rough justice of the
At the same time, it is
estimated that the cost of
deploying additional troops
in the territories to contain
the uprising is now running
at $2 million a day.
In addition to this quan-
tifiable cost of the intifada,
however, there is a hidden
price tag: reduced training
programs for combat troops,
who are tied down in the ter-
ritories performing police
functions and away from the
front-lines, where they
should be defending Israel's
According to Western in-
telligence assessments, this
form of deployment is hav-
ing a serious negative effect
on Israel's ability to defend
itself from external aggres-
Israel's combat effec-

tiveness in the event of a
major conflict with its tradi-
tional battlefield enemies,
according to the intelligence
sources, has dropped from 85
percent before the intifada to
just 65 percent today (see
Ze'ev Schiff, Israel's
foremost military analyst,
highlights this point: "The
Israel forces have improved
their response to the in-
tifada," he says, "but it's
depressing to see the best
forces erasing slogans from
walls and chasing children.
"Where are the prepara-
tions for future wars? The
general commanding the
southern area is forced to
put in no less than three-
and-a-half full work days
each week to deal with Gaza.
The chief of staff spends two
full days each week dealing
with the intifada .. . Results
will not be found by staying
in Gaza."
All this is not unqualified
good news for PLO leader
Yassir Arafat, whose signifi-
cant compromises — in
Palestinian terms, at least —
have failed to translate the
psychological and diplomatic
"victories" of the intifada
into concrete political gains.
"After the first few mon-
ths, the Palestinians became
convinced that the Israelis
would leave [the ter-
ritories]," said Mehdi Abdel
Hadi, a leading Palestinian
intellectual. "Now they real-
ize the light is not at the end
of the tunnel."
Israeli analysts believe

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