Thursday, June 06, 2002

What is it going to take to get the Israelis to finally snap? The car bombing in Megiddo on Wednesday killed 17 people, mostly heartbreakingly young soldiers. Israel cannot afford to lose people like this. It goes without saying that the families of the victims cannot afford to lose them. Each dead Israeli, pro rata, is like 57 dead Americans. It's a horrible calculus, but imagine if Hamas or Hezbollah had set off a bomb in Pittsburgh that killed 970 people, mainly soldiers on their way home.

These attacks emanate from territory under the control of the Palestinian Authority. The problem of the PA is the problem of Arafat, writ large. Either Arafat can control the terrorists in his midst, in which case he is complicit in mass murder, or he cannot, in which case he is a useless irrelevance. The same goes, in spades, for the PA. The question therefore arises: why is the continued existence of the PA tolerated by Israel?

When the PA was founded after the Oslo accords, Arafat brought with him from exile an estimated 40,000 PLO and allied guerrillas. Read that number again: forty thousand. These form the core of his terrorist regime. They are enemy troops. Their lives are forfeit under any rule of war you care to name. Instead of restraining Israel, the US should be urging it to kill these men, en masse.

Israel can no longer afford the polite fiction that the PA is a legitimate staging point on the road to full and lasting peace. It is a venomous tumour leaching away the lives of those whom Israel can least afford to lose - its young people. The terrorist who broke into a community last week (and was thankfully shot dead before he could hurt anyone) was aiming for a kindergarten. When your enemy deploys tactics like this, he has forfeited any and all rights under the rules of war (deliberate targeting of non-combatants is a war crime). In such circumstances, the Israeli Army is quite within its rights to summarily execute any Palestinian guerrilla it comes across. By all means it should arrest them. But after interrogation has yielded the desired results, a quick trip to the firing squad should result (or maybe just a plastic bag over the head and save the ammunition). They should not, under any circumstances, be kept alive. The only safe terrorist is a dead one. That is why the SAS did not bother with arrests when they stormed the Iranian embassy in 1980. They identified the enemy, and shot them out of hand. Keeping a live enemy behind you is a fatal error. That is exactly what imprisoning these vermin amounts to.

There's always this puerile argument that killing terrorists makes them into recruiting sergeants for the next generation. This is rubbish. A sufficiently robust response against terror does exactly the opposite. By demonstrating the futility of resistance, it robs any insurgency movement of its morale. The most successful counter-terrorist operations in history have been won by the ruthless extirpation of the terrorists. The past-master at this sort of thing is the British Army, viz. Borneo, Malaya and more recently Sierra Leone.

It is important for the world to realise that Israel is in a war of attrition, and it is losing. The tempo of terrorist operations cannot continue without something snapping. Had the attempted bombing of the petroleum storage depot succeeded, it would have resulted in hundreds, maybe thousands of dead. I have no doubt that had that happened, Yasser Arafat would no longer be alive, nor would several thousand Arabs. But if the drip, drip, drip of smaller attacks is not stopped, the end result will be the same: hundreds of dead Israelis with no prospect of peace.

Peace is not won, it is imposed. Israel has been attacked in four major wars since its inception. In each case it has defeated a numerically superior enemy by skill, élan and will-power. The enemy this time is different. It is more evil, more insidious, more pernicious. It must be exterminated, root and branch, so that the survivors will have no option but to sue for peace. A good start would be the elimination of the cockroach army that calls itself the Palestinian Authority. As usual, Steven den Beste at U.S.S. Clueless hits it on the head. Arafat must die. And hopefully a very large number of his thugs will accompany him.


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