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March 08, 1996 - Image 6

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1996-03-08

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.





I sorn B ri nk

A special report
as Israel
and prepares to



ach move that Israel has
opted for in this new war
against Hamas — which
has taken the lives of 61
Israelis, tourists and ter-
rorists and wounded 234
others in nine days —
comes with serious ques-
The introduction of $93
million worth of defensive mea-
sures decided upon last Sunday
admits that charging Palestinian
Authority President Yassir Arafat
alone with halting Islamic ter-
rorism has become untenable.
Yet, these new measures —
ranging from the erection of elec-
tronic fences in selected areas to
checking everyone boarding a
bus in Jerusalem — may be no
more than a psychological balm
for the skittish and increasing-
ly angry Israeli public.
This week's bombings, for ex-
ample, occurred during a full clo-
sure of the territories. That belied
the effectiveness of that tradi-
tional device as a protective
Even if the new measures suc-
ceed in "hermetically" sealing Is-
rael from the West Bank, they
will take time to put into place.
Neither do they guarantee a
reliable solution in Jerusalem —
unless the government intends
to "functionally divide" the city
with fences and checkpoints be-
tween its two populations. In-
deed, the perpetrator of Sunday's
bus bombing reportedly set out
from the Old City, in the very
heart of Jerusalem.
Compounding matters, even if
detected while preparing to board
a bus, there's nothing to stop a
suicide bomber from activating
his explosives on the spot — tak-
ing soldiers, policemen, passen-
gers and passersby along with
Defensive measures aside, un-
less the government decides to
scuttle the Oslo agreements and
retake the Gaza Strip and cities
of the West Bank turned over to
Palestinian rule, it is Yassir
Arafat who holds the key to dis-
abling, if not dismantling, Islamic
Mr. Peres knows this and has

increased pressure on Mr. Arafat,
announcing or intimating possi-
ble economic, political and even
military measures. But such op-
tions dig the two sides deeper into
the paradox that has plagued the
peace process from the start.
The "separation" measures, for
example (which re-
portedly include
sealing off the au-
tonomous West
Bank cities from the
surrounding coun-
tryside), will height-
en the economic
pressure on the
And this raises
the old question:
Does this help or
hinder Hamas and the Islamic
Jihad? Popular support for
Hamas is strongest in refugee
camps and poor urban neighbor-
hoods, places where the popula-
tion is in dire economic straits
and thus most dependent on
Hamas' social services.
For Israel, one political equa-
tion has not changed: the
stronger the trend toward "sep-
aration," and the less Palestini-
ans can enjoy the benefits of the
peace process, the more they're
likely to aid and abet its oppo-
Mr. Peres has also demand-
ed that Mr. Arafat take decisive
measures directly against the ter-
rorist "infrastructure" by banning
the terrorist organizations, dis-
arming their members and ar-
resting their leaders. While not
new calls, until this week Mr.
Arafat resisted taking them se-
After the bombing in Jer-
usalem and Ashkelon two weeks
ago, Mr. Peres sent Chief of Staff
Amnon Shahak to Mr. Arafat
with a list of (and hard intelli-
gence about) 30 terrorist lead-
During the intervening week,
only two were detained. On Sun-
day, Mr. Peres upped the politi-
cal ante considerably. "Arafat will
have to act according to the (Oslo)
agreement," he declared angrily.
"If he does not fulfill the agree-
ment, we will have to reconsider

it," meaning that the peace
process could end.
That threat already appears
to have had an effect. On Sun-
day, Mr. Arafat officially out-
lawed the Islamic Jihad and
the military wings of Hamas, the
leftist fronts and even the
Fatah. On Monday
night — after the Tel
Aviv suicide bomb-
ing — Mr. Peres told
the Cabinet that "as
a result of the deci-
sions we took earli-
er, the Palestinian
Police has arrested
the organizers of the
last three actions in
Jerusalem in
The question remains how
long this activity will last. Also,
Israel is watching if Mr. Arafat
will meet its demands before the
end of this month, when the Is-
rael Defense Forces redeploy-
ment from Hebron is scheduled.

For years, the Labor govern-
ment has argued that officially
suspending the peace process in
response to Islamic terrorism
(which the opposition has
screamed for from the start)
means knuckling under to the op-
ponents of peace.
Now, Mr. Peres has been
forced to implicitly reverse him-
self, even though it is a com-
monplace that halting the peace
process will not make the Pales-
tinians less disposed to engage in
Finally, there has been endless
speculation about the military
measures that Israel can take if
Mr. Arafat doesn't solve the prob-
lem quickly.
Likud Chairman Binyamin
Netanyahu has prudently limit-
ed his suggestions to urging that
Israel "take the initiative." His
less-circumspect electoral part-
ner, ex-Chief of Staff Rafael Ei-
tan of Tsomet, has another
answer: "Kill them any time, any-

he main measures an-
nounced by the Israeli
government on Sunday
* Esta.blishing a special head-
quarters for waging the war
against terrorism, headed by
General Security Services Chief
Anil Ayalon.
,' Reinforcing the securing
forces m Jerusalem by station-
Mg 4,000 soldiers and policemen
at bus stops and other public
Taking legally permissible
measures against the families
of suicide bombers --- e.g., seal-
ing and then demolishing their
houses — as a deterrent to oth-
ers planning suicide attacks.
* Investigating the feasibili-
ty of taking similar measures
against members of the Hamas
and Islamic Jihad "infrastruc-
ture" {broadly defined as "those
who dispatch" the suicide
* Dismantling the centers of

}lamas activity, especially in
Jerusalem proper.
Enlarging the unit for pro-
tecting buses to 800 men, all
graduates of combat units.
* Moving toward the "sepa-
ration" of Israeli and Palestin-
ian populations, inter alia, by
building electronic fences near
Qalqilya and Tulkarem, two
sensitive stretches of the "seam"
with the West Bank; creating a
2-kilometer buffer zone along
the seam to be closed to Pales-
tinians; limiting the passage of
vehicular traffic, pedestrians,
and goods from the West Bank
to Israel to 18 special crossing
points (6 into Jerusalem), re-
quiring special entry permits,
and meting out severe punish-
ments for illegal entry.
* The government approved
a special supplementary budget
of $93 million for these mea
sures (including $13 for the pro-

once shunned
by some, is
now embraced
by all.

tection of public transport) to be
spread over two years. 0


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