Israel: Terror Campaign Continues to Collapse

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January8, 2007: When it comes to Palestinians, Israel prefers the corrupt to the fanatic. Thus Israel is backing Fatah in the civil war with Hamas. Both of these organizations support terrorism against Israel, and the destruction of Israel. But Hamas is more open about it and, worse yet, a closer ally of Iran and al Qaeda. As bad as Fatah is for Israel, Hamas makes Fatah look good by comparison. Until a year ago, Hamas appeared to be a growing menace in Gaza, where 1.4 Palestinians live in an area of 363 square kilometers, but not much of a threat in the West Bank, where 2.4 million Palestinians live in 5,500 square kilometers, and Fatah still was in firm control. Then came the elections a year ago, and Fatah found out that many West Bankers were fed up, and voted for Hamas, and gave Hamas a majority in parliament, and the right to form a new government. Fatah still controlled the presidency, and most of the civil servants (most of whom where in a dozen different security forces). Because Hamas openly supported the destruction of Israel (something Fatah only said in Arabic, while Hamas would say it in Hebrew and English), financial support from Western countries was cut off. The civil servants could not be paid, and that insured that most of them remained loyal to Fatah, or at least not favorably disposed towards Hamas.

Hamas not only had financial problems, but military ones as well. Gaza and the West Bank were physically separated by Israeli territory. Gaza is surrounded by a very effective security fence (no terrorists have ever gotten out of Gaza and into Israel, which is why a similar fence is being built between the West Bank and Israel.) Since Israel withdrew from Gaza sixteen months ago, Palestinians have been able to carry weapons freely, and they do. Most of the 4,000 Palestinian casualties during that period have been in Gaza. In the West Bank, the Israelis still control security, and Hamas supporters rarely carry weapons. When they do, they risk prompt and effective attack by Israeli troops. But the Fatah controlled West Bank security forces can carry weapons, and they use them against Hamas. Fatah plans to try and wipe out Hamas in the West Bank, and weaken it in Gaza.

The Fatah edge in the West Bank has forced Hamas to restrain itself in Gaza. When Hamas gunmen hurt a Fatah supporter in Gaza, Fatah responds by doing the same to a Hamas supporter in the West Bank. All this violence has not been popular, and Fatah believes that if new elections were held now, Fatah would win back control of parliament. Hamas seems to recognize this too, and refuses to go along with new elections. Much violence may ensure before this matter is settled.

While most Palestinians still support the less corrupt Hamas, they also recognize that, while Hamas may be more honest, they are less effective in dealing with the Israelis, and the Western aid donors. Both Israel and the Western charity are the cornerstones of the Palestinian economy, which has collapsed since Fatah and Hamas launched the terror campaign in 2000, and made worse since Hamas came to power. In the meantime, Israel prospers, and their economy grows.

Meanwhile, overnight operations in the West Bank led to the arrest of 21 terrorist suspects. These included members of Fatah and Hamas.

January 7, 2007: In 2006, Israeli victims of Palestinian terror attacks were the lowest since 2000. In 2006, there were two Palestinian attacks in Israel, killing eleven Israelis. There were also 559 firefights with Palestinians, leading to the deaths of 130 armed Palestinians, and eight civilian bystanders. The Palestinians claim more civilians were killed, but the Palestinians have been caught staging such "deaths," or simply lying about civilian casualties, so their claims are highly suspect. Israeli counter-terror tactics have crippled Palestinian terrorist groups.

January 5, 2007: The Palestinian president, a Fatah member, outlawed the Hamas militia. This "Executive Force" of some 6,000 men, was formed after Hamas won control of the government last year. Hamas responded to the presidential order with a promise to double the size of the force. That was interpreted as a "no."

January 4, 2007: Palestinian terrorists have tried to employ roadside bombs in the West Bank, but without much success. Either the Palestinians are caught while setting up the bomb, or the bomb is later discovered and disabled or destroyed. Some of these bombs have over a hundred pounds of explosives. In the past year, Israeli engineers have disarmed or destroyed over 300 Palestinian bombs and booby traps. An Israeli raid in the West Bank led to a firefight, and the death of six Palestinians.

January 3, 2007: The Palestinian rockets continue to be fired from Gaza, but an Israeli early warning system detects the launches and gives enough warning for people to take cover. This has kept casualties down, on those few occasions where the Kassam rockets landed near an inhabited areas. Meanwhile, Iranian trainers are appearing in a Palestinian video, in a terrorist training camp built in the ruins of one of the abandoned Israeli settlements in northern Gaza.

 

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