Last September, when Israel Foreign Minister Sylvan Shalom made a toast to the foreign press and the diplomatic corps in honor of the Jewish News Year, The Israeli government minister spoke with great satisfaction about the separation barrier that had been built around Gaza, and declared to his New Year well wishers that “Since the barrier was built around Gaza, we have not witnessed even one terror attack from Gaza. The people of Israel sleep well, knowing that a separation barrier fence has been constructed”.
I asked the minister an irreverent question – “What about the mortars fired by terrorists from Gaza day at the people of Sderot and the western Negev every day”?
The minister chose just that opportunity to call on his distinguished guests to dip apples in the honey of the new year instead of relating to the question on hand.
Perhaps the minister did not want to deal with the fact that barriers do not deter surface to surface lethal weapons during a time of war.
Yet what Israeli government spokespeople usually counter is that “The fence has still reduced the number of attacks”.
Yet there is another reason for the reduction of Arab terror attacks.
Since April 2002, the Israel Defence Forces (The IDF), made a strategic decision to go on the offensive, and to conduct daily incursions into every Palestinian populated area, in order to eradicate PLO terror squads before they could attack Israeli population centers.
A case in point: During 21 consecutive days in the month of June, 2004, the IDF thwarted 21 armed PLO squads that were already en route to conduct terror attacks inside Israel’s major population centers.
On the other hand, the Israeli government has ordered The IDF not to attack the leaders of the PLO who dispatch these same terror squads, because of a political decision to preserve the PLO as a political entity.
So the PLO war against Israel continues unabated, to liberate all of Palestine, albeit in stages.
People have forgotten that the PLO was founded by the Arab League in 1964 to continue the war that was launched in 1948 the Arab League for the express purpose of Israel’s annihilation. Egypt was then the dominant power in the Arab League which fostered the PLO. Today, Saudi Arabia, in an active state of war with Israel since 1948, is the dominant power of the Arab League which stirs the cauldrons of the PLO.
People have forgotten that the PLO amended its charter in 1974 to adopt a “strategy of phases”, so that the PLO could liberate Palestine “in stages”, an approach which keeps Israel and the western world off guard.
On June 20th, at a press conference held at the office of the Prime Minister of Israel, Israel’s National Security Council, Giora Eiland was asked if Israel had formulated a plan to defeat the PLO, which remains in a state of war with Israel.
Eiland’s answer was straight forward: “We have decided not to engage in a war to defeat the PLO”. And that is the problem.
Instead, the Israeli government prefers to deal with cosmetics: A barrier, which in some places is a fence and in other places is a wall, which is something that a democratically elected government can show to its people that it is doing something.
Yet Israel’s construction of a barrier transforms a war with the PLO into a war with the entire Palestinian population, which is precisely what the PLO wants.
Perhaps it is for that reason that Abu Allah, Arafat’s prime minister, is personally invested in the cement company used to construct that barrier.
The time has come for the government and people of Israle to focus their energies on a war against the PLO, not on the Palestinian people.
Amazingly, the PLO has not yet succeeded in conveying its message of war against Israel to the Palestinian people.
Having covered the Palestinian Authority areas since the PLO was imported from Tunis in 1994, I can report that you can discern a difference between the daily PLO incitement against Israel and the desire of the Palestinian Arab people to live at peace with Israel. The PLO has not yet succeeded in galvanizing the Palestinian population behind its cause.
Every PLO terrorist may be a Palestinian.
Yet not every Palestinian is a PLO terrorist.
However, Israel’s construction of a barrier, instead of Israel’s destruction of the Mukatta, the PLO headquarters in Ramallah, does little to defeat the PLO and nothing to stop PLO terror attacks inside Israel.
After all, this past Sunday morning, on July 11tg, 2004, it was the mainstream of the Fateh organization of the PLO which took credit for blowing up a bus in the heart of Tel Aviv, killing nineteen year old female soldier, Maayan Haim and maiming more than thirty other bus passengers. So long as the PLO continues to function, it will find ways to dispatch armed killers, even from amongst Israel’s one million Arab citizens.
All a barrier does is to help the PLO solidify its base of support in the Palestinian population.
PLO terror will stop only when Israel decides to defeat the PLO, and when the Israeli government declares its determination to win the last battle of the 1948 War for Independence.