Israel Resource Review 17th October, 2003


The Lessons of the PLO Attack on US Security Personnel in Gaza
David Bedein

Three American security personnel were killed in Gaza this week as they traveled through a war zone between PLO guerrillas and Israeli troops. Their deaths were bound to befall any foreign security personnel stationed between two warring entities. Their peace-keeping role is not noticed or appreciated.

Yet the latest panacea for Middle East peace, now gaining momentum, is to dispatch American or European troops whose dual task would be to create a Palestinian Arab state and mitigate Arab terror at the same time.

Foreign troops would seemingly solve the Middle East crisis by driving an armed wedge between the warring Israeli and Palestinian Arab entities in order to create a semblance of peace.

Throughout the past year, former U.S. ambassador to Israel Martin Indyk, now a senior official of the liberal Brookings Institution in Washington, has actually been campaigning to introduce U.S. troops to the area who would act as a peacekeeping force -- even where no peace agreement exists.

It would seem the advocates of an armed international presence have not considered the consequences of their suggestion.

Those who advocate an armed intervention say that foreign troops have succeeded in preserving peace accords in the Middle East. After all, they point out, foreign troops now patrol the borders of Israel and Egypt. They even patrol the armistice lines with Syria and with Lebanon. How would this be different?

Foreign troops stationed in the Sinai desert patrol an international border following a peace agreement accepted by both Israel and Egypt. Foreign troops patrol the Syrian and Lebanese cease-fire lines following armistice agreements accepted by Israel, Syria and Lebanon.

Yet foreign troops dispatched to patrol Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria and Gaza,would be stationed where Israel, the PLO and the entire Arab world have reached no agreement, in an area that has been perpetually at war since 1948. That is a difference that cannot be ignored.

All this spells out a formula for continued conflict in the unresolved 1948 war. International troops would fight for the policies of their respective governments, which would bode ill for Israel.

A likely scenario: Foreign troops are dispatched to the hilly village of Beit Jala overlooking Bethlehem and towering over Gilo, the southernmost part of Jerusalem. The stated purpose of the armed international peacekeepers is to facilitate the transformation of Beit Jala into a thriving suburb of Bethlehem. This, it is hoped, will create a future vibrant, independent Palestinian Arab entity, and will stop shooting attacks against Israel from the village.

A few days after foreign troops take up their positions, armed Beit Jala residents positioned on the roof of the strategically placed Hope Flowers School fire rockets and mortars into Gilo, blowing up Jewish homes and killing tens of Jewish residents.

The response is not long in coming; Israeli troops fire at the source of the mortar shells, blowing up the school and killing hundreds of Arab schoolchildren and dozens of foreign peacekeepers stationed nearby.

Headlines around the world: "Israelis kill schoolchildren and foreign peacekeepers."

Conclusion: Any armed international presence would immediately become a target in the line of fire, and Israel would be blamed for the casualties among them.

Ask the families of three Americans killed in Gaza the other day. They will understand.

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Fatah and Jihad Cooperate in Gaza Tunnels
Middle East News Line

[Middle East Newsline provides this newsworthy piece concerning the operational cooperation between the Fatah and Islamic Jihad. For information as to how to subscribe the the Middle East Newsline, check out - DB

TEL AVIV [MENL] -- The Palestinian Authority and a range of insurgency groups are said to cooperate in the smuggling of weapons and explosives from Egypt.

Israeli military sources said the weekend operation to search and destroy at least 13 tunnels that connect the southern town of Rafah with the neighboring Egyptian-controlled Sinai Peninsula has pointed to cooperation by a range of Palestinian elements. The sources said the elements range from the ruling Fatah Party to Hamas and Islamic Jihad.

The insurgency groups, in cooperation with PA officials, were said to share the expense of constructing and maintaining the tunnels as well as the smuggling of weapons and explosives from Egypt. The military sources said the PA and insurgency groups maintain an arrangement for the division of material that comes from the Egyptian-side of Rafah.

On Tuesday, an Israeli military force returned to Rafah in a search-and-destroy operation for the tunnels. The combined force, which included 40 tanks and armored personnel carrier, was also composed of infantry and engineering units and was expected to operate for several days.

Palestinian groups began smuggling weapons from Egypt before the advent of the PA in 1994. But over the last three years the tunnels have represented a major source of supplies for the production of missiles, mortars, rocket-propelled grenades and high-grade explosives. The tunnels were dug from the homes of residents of the Palestinian refugee camp in Rafah to conceal their presence from the Israelis, the sources said. They said PA security officials have been paid a percentage of the profits and don't interfere in the smuggling.

Israel's military has found three of 13 tunnels believed to be in operation amid heavy battles with Palestinian insurgents. Ten Palestinians were killed in two days of fighting and they included operatives from Fatah, Hamas and Islamic Jihad.

One of the casualties was identified as the commander of the Fatah-dominated Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigade, Naadar Abu Taha, age 23. Other Palestinians were injured when they tried to prepare bombs meant to be hurled against Israeli forces.

This piece an on the Middle East News Line on October 14th, 2003

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