All Pain, No Gain
At the two-year mark, the intifada shows Israel can be unexpectedly resilient.
Jewish Telegraphic Agency
sraeli society has been bruised and brutalized
by two years of Palestinian terror and vio-
lence, but as the intifada (uprising) enters its
third year it has brought the
Palestinians no political gain whatsoever.
On the contrary, there is far less on the
table for the Palestinians than when they
launched their campaign of terror in late
Now, with the Palestinians' cities in ruin, their
leader isolated and Palestinian public figures increas-
ingly admitting that the intifada has been disastrous
for their cause, Israeli politicians are beginning to
believe that the end of the onslaught is in sight.
Before the intifada began during Rosh Hashanah
two years ago, Israel had made an unprecedentedly
generous offer at the Camp David summit, offering
to withdraw from virtually all the territories con-
quered in the 1967 Six-Day War, share Jerusalem
with a Palestinian state and seek creative solutions
for control of the Temple Mount.
Though the Camp David offer granted the
Palestinians almost all their ostensible demands,
Palestinian leaders believed that violence would quickly
pry from Israel a few last crumbs — without the
Palestinians being forced to make any concessions of
their own or declare an end to their conflict with Israel.
According to Israeli military officials, the
Palestinians' model was Lebanon. The ragged Israeli
withdrawal in May 2000 led many Arabs to con-
clude that sustained violence and even moderate
casualties would lead Israel to beat a similarly chaot-
ic retreat from the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
Hezbollah leader Sheik Hassan Nasrallah had
compared Israeli society to a
spider web, brittle and easily
destroyed. True, he argued,
Israel had a strong army and a
sophisticated industrial base,
but Israelis over the years had
become weak and pampered.
In Lebanon, the killing of
some two dozen
Israeli soldiers each
year, far from the
home front, had
provoked a popular move-
ment that forced Israel to
withdraw unilaterally from its
security zone. That experi-
ence, according to Nasrallah's
theory, proved that Israeli
society could no longer stom-
ach civilian or battlefield loss- A Palestinian demonstrator painted a Palestinian flag on a wall near an Israeli
es and that Israelis had lost
roadblock north of the West Bank town of Ramallah last November.
their will to fight.
Palestinian leaders, from
Yasser Arafat down to militia commanders in the field,
— the Israel Defense Force's first major counterof-
eagerly adopted the spider web theory and tried to
fensive into Palestinian territory after 18 months of
apply it to the intifada — except that events on the
fighting — than had been summoned.
ground disproved it.
The army's new chief of staff, Lt. Gen Moshe
Ya'alon, says the staying power of Israeli society will
determine the outcome of the conflict.
Unlike - the Palestinians, who Ya'alon believes wish
What they hadn't counted on is that Israelis would
to annihilate Israel, Israel does not seek to destroy
react differently when the battle was not on some
the Palestinians. Victory for Israel means forcing the
distant border, but in the heart of their capital or in
Palestinians to realize that terror will get them
the cities of their densely populated coastal plain.
nowhere, Ya'alon said in.a recent interview with the
Israelis grieved over their losses and changed their
lifestyles, but even after two years of unremitting
Israeli society must show no signs of cracking and
violence, they show no signs of folding.
Israeli politicians must offer no concessions under
On the contrary, Israel has proven it can not just
threat of violence, he Says, or there will be no end to
take a hit, but can hit back hard.
P a lestinian terror designed to force Israeli concessions.
As for their will to fight, more Israeli reservists
turned up for this spring's Operation Protective Wall ALL PAIN, No GAIN on page 18
Leslie Susser is the diplomatic correspondent for the
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