Israel: December 3, 2001

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The weekend carnage, which left 25 Israelis dead and 210 wounded, has left the Palestinian Authority with few allies and many critics. Even Arab nations that usually tolerate the attacks of Palestinian extremists have become hostile to Hamas and other radical Palestinian groups. But as much as Israelis are outraged, the attacks are still popular with the majority of Palestinians. Pressure on Yasser Arafat to crack down on the radicals is unlikely to work, as Arafat would have to fight a civil war to bring it off. And right now, Arafat would probably lose that war. The Israelis have several options, including removing Arafat from power (or simply expelling him from the country). But Arafat would likely be replaced with someone more radical. Israel could intensify the shadow war against the leaders of the terrorist organizations. This has been slowly escalating anyway, but will now probably intensify. This will include occupying more Palestinian towns known to be headquarters for terrorist cells and, in effect, and imposing a more harsh form of military rule in Palestinian areas. The Israelis have aborted many terrorist attacks, but have not been able to stop them all. Another option is to shut down the Israeli settlements in Palestinian territory, which is a major sore point for the Palestinians. But this would encourage the Palestinian radicals, who credit the Lebanese Hizbollah terrorism campaign for getting Israel to withdraw from southern Lebanon. The Palestinian radicals want Israel destroyed, so nothing short of that will appease them. Israel will need some new ideas in the face of Israeli and Palestinian radicals who both call for clearing the region of Arabs or Jews (depending which side you're on.)

 

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