On Sunday morning, during the morning rush, outside the Central Bus Station of the sleepy, desert, southern Israeli city of Beersheba a suicide bomber detonated.
The attack marked the first suicide terrorist bombing since Israel redeployed from Gaza.
Islamic Jihad immediately claimed responsibility for the terror attack. They said that a twenty-five year old male named Ayman Zaqiq, from the village of Bet Umar, just south of Bethlehem, was the suicide bomber. The problem with this claim is that Ayman Zaqiq was picked up by Israeli security several days before the attack.
Does that mean that Islamic Jihad is not responsible, does it mean that they just messed up on the name? It probably means that several suicide terrorists were dispatched to Beersheba and only one made it while the others were intercepted. It means that Israel has intelligence information, once again, that terrorist organizations hedge their bets by sending out more than one operative per attack. It means, as far as Israelis are concerned, that while some terrorists do slip by, Israeli security forces are doing their job.
But one terrorist did slip by, and he did detonate. And now lots of people are nodding their heads, wringing their hands and saying, "I told you so." But in reality there is no connection between this bombing and Israel getting out of Gaza.
Those same people are saying that terrorists feel bolstered and terrorist morale is boosted by Israel's public withdrawal from Gaza. Well, of course it is. But those people just do not understand terrorist mentality and actions. If they did, they would know that the kind of terror that struck Beersheba will be with Israel for many years to come, and it has nothing to do with Gaza.
Everyone involved in security knows that terror is not going to end, even if Palestinians and Israelis settle their differences. Terror attacks will continue long into the future. Hamas and Islamic Jihad are not about to relinquish their raison d'etre. They are committed to the total annihilation of Israel without compromise and with-or-without a peace treaty. The hope is that the Palestinians will try to prevent terrorists from attacking Israel, that using their own intelligence and police, Palestinians will be able to persuade terrorists from attacking Israel.
The significant impact that the Israeli withdrawal from Gaza had on terrorists is only psychological, not practical. That should be obvious. And terrorists will parlay the psychological factor and use it as a marketing tool. They will convince themselves and their followers and their new recruits that their methods are effective. They will use the Gaza withdrawal as "proof" that if Israel is hit often enough and hard enough they will succumb, they will change policy and evacuate from all "occupied territories."
But they are wrong.
Past history proves exactly the opposite. The reality of Israeli policy and decision making and even the attitude of the average Israeli is that when Israel is hit by terror Israelis become more and more intransigent and hardline. Under direct pressure from terrorists, Israeli moderates and the Left swerve towards the Right and become steadfastly anti-negotiation and anti-Palestinian.
Look no further than the recent Intifada. The vast majority of those labeled as peace camp rejected any compromise, first with Arafat and now with Palestinian President Abbas, during the height of the Intifada. The tide has not turned for the Israeli masses, Gaza withdrawal notwithstanding. Israel will continue to reject any agreement until Palestinian leadership begins to act against the terrorists and shows some signs of success.
Israel withdrew from Gaza because it was an untenable military position, because there was no way to shield soldiers and settlers, because they were the proverbial sitting ducks. Israel did not withdraw from Gaza because terrorists successfully infiltrated and perpetrated their deadly, dastardly acts.
Beersheba is not Gaza.
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