Israel: May 13, 2004


After a year of successfully dismantling Palestinian terrorist cells, some new ones have apparently been organized that have demonstrated quite a bit of skill in the use of roadside bombs. In the last 36 hours, two of these bombs have destroyed two Israeli armored personnel carriers, killing eleven Israeli soldiers. At least 23 Palestinians were killed in the same period. This brings the death toll for Israel, since the current "war" with the Palestinians (who call it the Intifada) began in September, 2000, to 1004. Nearly 3,000 Palestinians have died. In the past year, Israel has lost 195 soldiers and 137 civilians to the violence. 

In the last two years, Israel has deliberately sought out and killed the leadership, and technical experts, in the Palestinian terrorist organizations. The strategy has worked. Without their experienced tactical and  technical leadership, the Palestinians were much less effective in attacking Israeli civilians, or in fighting Israeli troops staging raids into Palestinian neighborhoods. The key to this decapitation (taking out the leadership) strategy was a system of informers. Few Palestinians would willingly provide information to the Israelis, so the Israelis developed the BBE (Bribes, Blackmail, Extortion) System. This approach sought out Palestinians who could be bribed, blackmailed or extorted to provide information. This provided enough information to identify the key people in the Palestinian  terrorist organizations. The Israelis then staged raids or attacks to arrest or kill these key people. It wasn't just the organizers and leaders they were after, but the "technicians" who could build bombs. The Palestinians called these guys "engineers," and they were a talented bunch. But over the last two years, they began to disappear into Israeli prisons or Palestinian graveyards. You could note their absence by the increasing number of accidental explosion in Palestinian areas, as less expert bomb builders made fatal mistakes. The lack of leadership meant that more and more suicide (and other type) attacks failed. It's not easy staging a suicide attack. The actual suicide bomber is only one person in a team of up to a dozen people who make the bomb, scout the target area and figure out how to get the bomber past Israeli security. 

Two successful roadside bombings in two days might be just coincidence, but it might also indicate some new Palestinian talent has arrived on the scene. But war is a two way street, and the new Palestinian tactician will have to pay a lot of attention to his own personal security. The Israelis will want to know who he is, and then capture or kill him. This is how the war in Israel is fought. It's very personal, and very deadly.





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