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The Lessons of the Gaza Strike By: David Bedein
FrontPageMagazine.com | Friday, October 17, 2003

Three American security personnel were killed in Gaza recently 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.

David Bedein, author of the forthcoming book, "Swimming Against the Mainstream", has run the Israel Resource News Agency. www.IsraelBehindTheNews.com, since 1987, at the Beit Agron Press Center in Jerusalem, where he also heads the Center for Near East Policy Research and serves as the Middle East correspondent for the Philadelphia Bulletin, www.thebulletin.us.

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