Last weekend, 28 innocent Israelis were killed and nearly 200 were wounded in terrorist attacks perpetrated by the terrorist organization Hamas. The attack in Haifa on Sunday that blew up a bus, scattering blood, body parts and belongings of the 15 civilians killed in the explosion was a follow up to a coordinated assault on a crowded pedestrian mall in Jerusalem less than 12 hours before there, two suicide bombers and a car bomb killed 12 Israelis. Many have justified these attacks by pointing to the difficult conditions faced by the Palestinian people every day. However, one can not use suffering as an excuse to attack innocent civilians and cause more suffering. While many claim that Israel is equally guilty of such crimes, in reality Israel attacks military targets, while Palestinians purposely choose to target civilians.
Moreover, the Palestinian Authority is complicit in these terror attacks.
Attacks such as those that happened this weekend are a direct consequence of the unwillingness of the PA to act decisively against the terrorist groups within Palestinian Authority territories. Last week both CIA and the Israeli intelligence repeatedly warned Yasser Arafat of impending attacks.
Despite these repeated warnings, Arafat refused to take any actions to prevent these attacks from happening. As a result Hamas was able to carry out its murderous missions. This behavior is typical of Arafat”s “response” to terrorism.
When Chairman Arafat signed the Oslo Accords in 1993 he pledged to end all terrorist acts against Israel. Since then, Palestinian terrorists have killed more than 400 Israelis. This past summer, a bomber killed 21 teenagers at a Tel Aviv disco and then in August, another bomber killed 15 and injured more then a hundred in Sbarro”s Pizzeria, a family restaurant, in downtown Jerusalem. Since then the violence and murders have continued unabated, despite Arafat”s repeated promises to put a stop to it.
In retaliation for the latest round of terrorist attacks the government of Israel initiated a military campaign to root out these terrorists. While many argue that violence only leads to more violence and that Israel should take the moral high ground by not retaliating as this is the only way to end the cycle of violence. These arguments, however, are disingenuous. This summer the government of Israel showed restraint after a suicide bomber killed 21 of its citizens. Then, as now, Israel was asked to trust Chairman Arafat”s word that he would put an end to this violence. However, the events of August 16 (Sbarro”s Bombing) and this weekend prove that Arafat has no intention of stopping these assaults.
Israel can no longer rely on Arafat”s empty promises.
Many might point out that this time Arafat is being serious by arresting nearly 100 militants. In reality these arrests are to be expected. After each terrorist bombing Arafat bows to international pressure by arresting known militants. However in May of 2001 Arafat released numerous known terrorists responsible for the murderous of over 60 Israelis in eight bloody days in 1996. Herein lies the problem. How can Israel trust Arafat not to free the militants he arrested since Sunday so that they cannot go on yet another killing spree tomorrow?
Others will claim that it is Israel”s blockade of the occupied territories that causes these tragedies. The unfortunate reality is that it is when Israel withdraws from the territories that these events occur. For instance the terror on Sunday would have been impossible as recently as a week ago because the Israeli Defense Forces were keeping Jenin a city known for its production of suicide bombers under a strict watch.
However, late last week Israel bowed to U.S. pressure and withdrew its forces from Jenin less then 72 hours later a suicide bomber originating from Jenin killed 16 innocent people.
It is obvious that the Arab-Israeli conflict will not be resolved through violence. However, it is unreasonable to expect Israel to silently stand by as its citizens die on a daily basis in places like shopping malls, discos and family restaurants. While negotiations are obviously the best way to solve this problem, until Chairman Arafat proves that he is willing, and able, to stop terrorism Israel has no one with whom to negotiate.
Dernovskaya, an LSA sophomore, and Livshiz, an LSA senior are members of the Daily”s editorial board. Livshiz is co-chairman of the American Movement for Israel.