Decline of Palestinian suicide terror shows there is military solution to terrorism
By Yoaz Hendel
On September 28, 2000, then-Opposition Leader Ariel Sharon visited Temple Mount. This seemingly insignificant event was enough for our partner Arafat to officially bid the Oslo peace dove farewell.
Exactly 10 years ago, the al-Aqsa Intifada erupted in full force. The IDF responded in line with orders, the area was on fire, and at Ehud Barak’s prime minister’s office officials attempted to cling to diplomacy in every possible way.
IDF officials referred to the violence as a “limited conflict” (a controversial name for an asymmetric war pitting a large, powerful army against a weaker actor, such as a terror or guerilla organization.) Indeed, the term proved to be accurate: The political leadership limited the army’s response.
It took some time to understand that this was war; Barak failed to understand it even at the end of his term in office. His replacement, Sharon – who usually acts quickly – regained his focused in an incredibly slow manner. The IDF, which was supposed to provide security, operated in line with the old insights and voluntarily limitations, as not to undermine the chances of renewing the peace, heaven forbid.
Yet the people on the street, who had no access to the “big picture” and the “overall considerations,” understood reality without getting lost in terminology; the kind of wisdom of people who find themselves fearing every trip out of the house, riding on buses, or going out to a restaurant or to the mall.
Meanwhile, “intellectual circles” in Israel engaged in an incisive debate on whether putting an end to the IDF’s restraint would solve the problem. Can the IDF cope with the suicide terror? Is a military capable of coping with a terror group that has no frontlines or home front and that does not adhere to ethics and the rules of war?
Results speak for themselves
On one end of the debate we had people who demanded that we fight with full force – the most prominent among them were members of the Yesha Council, who coined the slogan “Let the IDF win.” On the other end we had the Oslo fans, who had trouble reconciling themselves to the fact that their great spiritual leader, the peace process, passed away.
As love of peace wasn’t a logical enough argument for limiting the IDF, negotiation-at-any-price fans resorted to military arguments. We are facing a war that cannot be won, one commentator explained. The IDF knows there is no military solution to terror, wrote another. There is no military solution, said Amram Mitzna in response to the Yesha Council’s slogan. Many others argued that the only way to resolve the problem is an all-out negotiation session.
Yet Arafat, who was not overly impressed by the pursuit of peace, escalated the acts of terror. At the end of the “terrible March” of 2002, after the outcome of the terror attack at the Park Hotel became known, the politicians decided to let the IDF win.
The limits on invasion into Palestinian Authority territory were lifted. IDF units entered Area A and the PA’s terror strongholds. The army was allowed to carry out arrests deep in enemy territory and resort to assassinations of terror leaders. Thousands of operational spoons emptied the terror barrel.
We can see the results in the numbers: In 2002, at the height of the terror wave, when it was declared that terror cannot be defeated, 232 civilians died here, most of them in the 53 suicide bombings carried out across the nation. In 2007 and 2008 we only saw two suicide bombings, one in each year. In the past two years, no suicide bombers exploded here.
Victory is an elusive term in the world of small wars. Victory is always temporary and not guaranteed to last. Yet if you ask me, the fact that I walk around with my children in Jerusalem’s Mahne Yehuda Market without fear, 10 years later, means that we won.
More Quotes About "Palestine"
"There is no such country as Palestine. 'Palestine' is a term the Zionists invented. There is no Palestine in the Bible. Our country was for centuries part of Syria. 'Palestine' is alien to us. It is the Zionists who introduced it".
- Auni Bey Abdul-Hadi, Syrian Arab leader to British Peel Commission, 1937 -
"There is no such thing as Palestine in history, absolutely not".
- Professor Philip Hitti, Arab historian, 1946 -
"It is common knowledge that Palestine is nothing but Southern Syria".
- Representant of Saudi Arabia at the United Nations, 1956 -
Concerning the Holy Land, the chairman of the Syrian Delegation at the Paris Peace Conference in February 1919 stated:
"The only Arab domination since the Conquest in 635 c.e. hardly lasted, as such, 22 years".
"There is not a solitary village throughout its whole extent (valley of Jezreel, Galilea); not for thirty miles in either direction... One may ride ten miles hereabouts and not see ten human beings. For the sort of solitude to make one dreary, come to Galilee... Nazareth is forlorn... Jericho lies a mouldering ruin... Bethlehem and Bethany, in their poverty and humiliation... untenanted by any living creature... A desolate country whose soil is rich enough, but is given over wholly to weeds... a silent, mournful expanse... a desolation... We never saw a human being on the whole route... Hardly a tree or shrub anywhere. Even the olive tree and the cactus, those fast friends of a worthless soil had almost deserted the country... Palestine sits in sackcloth and ashes... desolate and unlovely...".
- Mark Twain, "The Innocents Abroad", 1867 -
"In 1590 a 'simple English visitor' to Jerusalem wrote: 'Nothing there is to bescene but a little of the old walls, which is yet remayning and all the rest is grasse, mosse and weedes much like to a piece of rank or moist grounde'.".
- Gunner Edward Webbe, Palestine Exploration Fund,
Quarterly Statement, p. 86; de Haas, History, p. 338 -
"The land in Palestine is lacking in people to till its fertile soil".
- British archaeologist Thomas Shaw, mid-1700s -
"Palestine is a ruined and desolate land".
- Count Constantine François Volney, XVIII century French author and historian -
"The Arabs themselves cannot be considered but temporary residents. They pitched their tents in its grazing fields or built their places of refuge in its ruined cities. They created nothing in it. Since they were strangers to the land, they never became its masters. The desert wind that brought them hither could one day carry them away without their leaving behind them any sign of their passage through it".
- Comments by Christians concerning the Arabs in Palestine in the 1800s -
"Then we entered the hill district, and our path lay through the clattering bed of an ancient stream, whose brawling waters have rolled away into the past, along with the fierce and turbulent race who once inhabited these savage hills. There may have been cultivation here two thousand years ago. The mountains, or huge stony mounds environing this rough path, have level ridges all the way up to their summits; on these parallel ledges there is still some verdure and soil: when water flowed here, and the country was thronged with that extraordinary population, which, according to the Sacred Histories, was crowded into the region, these mountain steps may have been gardens and vineyards, such as we see now thriving along the hills of the Rhine. Now the district is quite deserted, and you ride among what seem to be so many petrified waterfalls. We saw no animals moving among the stony brakes; scarcely even a dozen little birds in the whole course of the ride".
- William Thackeray in "From Jaffa To Jerusalem", 1844 -
"The country is in a considerable degree empty of inhabitants and therefore its greatest need is of a body of population".
- James Finn, British Consul in 1857 -
"The area was underpopulated and remained economically stagnant until the arrival of the first Zionist pioneers in the 1880's, who came to rebuild the Jewish land. The country had remained "The Holy Land" in the religious and historic consciousness of mankind, which associated it with the Bible and the history of the Jewish people. Jewish development of the country also attracted large numbers of other immigrants - both Jewish and Arab. The road leading from Gaza to the north was only a summer track suitable for transport by camels and carts... Houses were all of mud. No windows were anywhere to be seen... The plows used were of wood... The yields were very poor... The sanitary conditions in the village [Yabna] were horrible... Schools did not exist... The rate of infant mortality was very high... The western part, toward the sea, was almost a desert... The villages in this area were few and thinly populated. Many ruins of villages were scattered over the area, as owing to the prevalence of malaria, many villages were deserted by their inhabitants".
- The report of the British Royal Commission, 1913 -