We hear of the great suffering of the Palestinian population under constant curfew. Residents of entire cities are stuck inside their houses most of the day, most of which are crowded, badly ventilated and not air-conditioned in this blazing heat. The adults don’t work, the children don’t go to school and cannot play outside, the pantry is getting even more bare and there is very little money to stock it during the few hours when the curfew is lifted. Tanks move about the streets with ear-splitting noise and strike fear into the hearts of many, and sometimes shots are heard and adults or children lie lifeless because of a mistake, or because of thoughtlessness or because of a soldier’s overly light finger on the trigger.

Their suffering is indeed terrible and continuous and it must not be ignored, it must be noticed and we must empathize with the distress of masses of innocents. But it must also be remembered and we must remind others that this curfew has a reason and it was imposed from a real lack of choice. The fact is that 24 days went by without there being a suicide attack inside the Green Line, until last night’s terror attack in Tel Aviv.

This attack, like the attack on Tuesday near Emmanuel, is very painful, but there is great value in reducing the frequency of terror attacks, which had become intolerable. The curfew works, not perfectly, but quite efficiently. The responsibility for the great suffering that he causes lies solely with Yasser Arafat, who thanks to the policy he has been conducting for two years, has almost brought another catastrophe onto his people. Arafat sowed the wind and his people reap the storm. Wretched are the Palestinian people who have him as their leader and they must ask themselves why they insist on sticking to him. In their eyes he is the symbol of the struggle and of resistance, but are they really in need today of a struggle and resistance conducted in a blood soaked terrorist fashion that only toughens the Israeli positions, or perhaps they need to finally replace this broken record, to accept a cease-fire and to begin a process of healing the wounds.

There is a general consensus in the world, some of its explicitly expressed, like by the US president and some secretly in private conversations, such as among Arab leaders, that Arafat has ended his role and is an obstacle on the path to reaching an agreement. All speak of his natural death as the best thing that could happen in the Middle East and only he himself and his people insist on dancing together the death dance that leads nowhere. It is true that many among the Israeli Left accuse the government and the IDF of having too heavy a hand, but they must turn their accusatory finger at the Palestinians and their leader, who last night continued to signal us that they have chosen to continue with the abhorrent path of terror and prefer this over opening horizons of hope.

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