Information Warfare: June 17, 2002

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Compared to Americas losses in the War in Terror, the Israelis and Palestinians have suffered far more. Suicide bombings have so far killed more than 220 Israelis, and injured more than 1,800. This is 43 percent of the total Israeli deaths (512) in the current 20 months of violence. The victims are a cross section of the Israeli population, from infants to elderly. Adjusted for the differences in population, this is equivalent to 11,000 American deaths and 90,000 injured. The Palestinian deaths so far are this equivalent to 150,000 American deaths. Most of the Israeli deaths are the result of Palestinian attacks on Israeli civilians. Most of the Palestinian deaths are the result of attacks on Israeli police and soldiers by Palestinian rioters (using rocks, slingshots and the like), Palestinian police or militants with guns, or civilians caught in the crossfire. A few percent of the Palestinian deaths are the result of attacks by Israeli terrorists. The Palestinians accuse the Israelis of deliberate attacks on civilians, but in reality the Israelis have, by any standard, strict rules of engagement that keep the Palestinian deaths a lot lower than they would be otherwise. Most of the Palestinian rioters attack Israeli police and troops at roadblocks. If the Israelis withdrew, they would surrender control of large areas to the Palestinians. While the Israelis have been criticized for not using more non-lethal weapons (aside from rubber bullets and tear gas) to stop the Palestinian rioters, the Israelis feel that available non-lethal weapons would not work and would put their troops in more danger. But the Palestinians generally believe (according to frequent opinion surveys) that the current combination of unarmed rioters, and armed militants are demoralizing Israelis and mobilizing world opinion against Israel. For the attacks by rioters against Israeli troops, this is probably true. But the armed attacks against Israeli civilians has had the opposite effect. The Palestinian leadership has realized this, but not most of the Palestinian population. Emotions are running very hot, and the Israelis see their very existence at stake. More Palestinians are leaning towards an "Israel must be destroyed" attitude. At the same time, Palestinians are suffering more, physically and economically, than the Israelis and in situations like this, the side that is hurting the most will usually back down first. This is particularly true with Arab support of the Palestinians, which has been cynical and exploitative from the beginning (in 1948). While Arab states have fought four wars with Israel, they have lost all of them and are not eager to try again. Arab countries have not allowed Palestinian refugees to settle as citizens, but have insisted they stay in refugee camps. More Palestinian refugees have been settled in Europe and North America than in Arab countries. This treatment by fellow Arabs adds to the Palestinian despair, and willingness to back suicidal violence against Israelis. In the past, Palestinians have used the same violence against Arab states they lived in (Jordan, Lebanon, Kuwait), but were defeated, and often expelled by force, when they did so. The only weapon the Palestinians have left is Information Warfare via suicide attacks against Israelis, and this one seems destined to fail as well.

 


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