Boosting Terror in the West Bank
By: P. David Hornik
Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Israel’s suicidal new plan: free Fatah terrorists, then fight them.

Predictions that the scenes of intra-Palestinian savagery from Gaza would cause a decline of Palestinianism were of course premature. The Israeli security services are now trying to come up with a list of 250 jailed Fatah offenders “without blood on their hands” whom Prime Minister Ehud Olmert can release in a “gesture” that he promised in last week’s meeting at Sharm el-Sheikh in the Sinai with Mahmoud Abbas, Hosni Mubarak, and Jordan’s King Abdullah.

The security services are, as the Jerusalem Post put it, “going through the list of nearly 10,000 Palestinians held in Israeli jails to see who fit the criteria Olmert spelled out.” The problem is that reaching the golden sum of 250 means

either releas[ing] “minor” Fatah prisoners who were convicted for crimes such as car theft, or . . . chang[ing] the criteria Olmert spelled out at Sharm—that no one with “blood on their hands” be released.

Releasing minor prisoners would not strengthen Abbas on the Palestinian street and could be “counterproductive,” while changing the criteria could cause Olmert coalition difficulties. As a result, the security agencies are continuing to comb through the prisoners’ lists, and Olmert is beginning to prepare the ground for possibly relaxing the “blood on their hands” criteria.

Let’s translate this into English. The release of mere car thieves and the like, criminals not involved in murder or attempted murder, does not “strengthen Abbas”; he is strengthened only by the release of actual terrorists whose missions failed and did not kill Israelis. Yet out of close to 10,000 Palestinian prisoners, a large proportion of whom are of course from Fatah, there is trouble finding 250 who either are not “minor” or are not bloodstained terrorists. Solution: release bloodstained terrorists.

Palestinianism par excellence, approved and possibly instigated by the Bush administration which, like Olmert, responded to Hamas’s takeover of Gaza with jubilation. After all, with Abbas no longer an official junior partner in a unity government with Hamas—and no blame ever accrued to him for that indiscretion—the decks were now clear for renewed infusions of arms, military training, funds, and released terrorists to his Fatah movement, which apparently keeps answering to a deep-seated Israeli and American dream of subcontracting the War on Terror to “moderate” or “our” terrorists.

Meanwhile, Haaretz like other Israeli media reported on Monday that “IDF soldiers kill Fatah commander in West Bank”:

Muhammad Abu al-Heija, a leader of the Al Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades in the Jenin refugee camp, and the deputy of Zakariya Zubeidi, one of the top commanders of the Fatah-linked armed group, was killed in a pre-dawn gun battle with Israel Defense Forces troops. . . .

The IDF said soldiers carrying out operations in the camp had come under small-arms fire, and that a bomb was thrown at them. “He had an M-16 [assault rifle] with a telescopic sight,” an IDF spokeswoman said of the dead man. "During the incident, an explosive charge was thrown and the Israeli force came under fire.”

. . . Across the West Bank Sunday night, a total of six wanted Palestinians were arrested, among them members of Hamas, the Islamic Jihad, and Fatah.

The ordinary citizen blinks and wonders how the powers that be come up with these fine distinctions between terrorists. If a Fatah terrorist fires at Israeli forces with an M-16, and if Fatah terrorists are arrested along with Hamas and Islamic Jihad terrorists in an overnight sweep, why precisely does the Bush administration funnel tens of thousand of rifles to Fatah, why does Israel release millions of dollars in tax revenues to Fatah, and why is the Israeli prime minister now straining to find 250 less-successful Fatah terrorists to release from prison?


One also wonders why it is worth being an Israeli soldier and risking one’s life fighting a Fatah terrorist at the same moment that another Fatah terrorist is being released from an Israeli prison and another one is learning the fine points of combat under Lt.-Gen. Keith Dayton, the U.S. “security coordinator” responsible for supplying and training Fatah forces.


The Bush-administration and Olmert-government sophisticates will of course answer that there are important nuances within Fatah, that the explicitly terrorist, heavily Iranian-supported Al-Aksa Martyrs Brigades somehow exist in splendid isolation from the noble democrats of Force 17. These same savants told us that Fatah, in general, and Hamas were so different from each other that it was worth cultivating the former as an army that would vanquish the latter—and are not deterred by the recent Gazan spectacle of Fatah “excelling” Hamas only in cowardice while equaling it in horrific savagery (see “A Visit to Fatah’s Torture Chamber”).


Lebanon is crumbling. Gaza is gone. No one is stopping Iran. Western forces are not winning in Iraq or Afghanistan. Terror is spreading to England and Scotland. In this grim scenario, one place where the jihad is still being contained, and where the Western forces of Israel are perfectly capable of containing it, is the West Bank. Give enough guns to Fatah, remove enough Israeli checkpoints, set loose enough bloody terrorists, and that success will be endangered too.


P. David Hornik is a freelance writer and translator living in Beersheva. He blogs at http://pdavidhornik.typepad.com/. He can be reached at pdavidh2001@yahoo.com.